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Review Easy Microsoft Windows Vista

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Easy Microsoft Windows Vista

    Author: Shelley O'Hara
    Format: Paperback: 352 pages
    Publisher: Que (December 12, 2006)
    ISBN-10: 0789735776
    ISBN-13: 978-0789735775

    Review by James Pyles
    December 29, 2006

    Easy Microsoft Windows Vista is a book even the most computer-phobic user will easily understand. The "Easy" series from QUE is extremely graphics driven and presents common tasks in a step-by-step matter. This book includes all of the activities most home users of Microsoft Vista would want to know about, such as printing, listening to an audio CD, or sending emails. Each chapter has a different color theme to make it easier to zero in on the desired subject. There's also a handy glossary that defines any of the technical terms used in the text. If my mother were going to buy a new PC with Windows Vista installed, I'd recommend this book to her.

    Writing a "technical" book for beginners can be a challenging task. It's difficult to "keep it simple" without dummying down the information too much or leaving out some details readers might want to know. The challenge for me as a technical reviewer was trying to keep the "power user" in me at bay and reading the book from a home user's point of view. Even with that in mind though, I still found a few things that could have been done better.

    Several times the book mentions that "the mail program in Windows Vista is no longer named Outlook Express but is now called Windows Mail". Since most of this book's readers are likely using Windows XP Home at present, their default mail client should be Microsoft Outlook. Home users on Windows 98 would be more accustomed to using Outlook Express so I wasn't sure where O'Hara was coming from. The fact that Outlook Express is mentioned more than once (and no mention is made of Outlook at all) told me that it wasn't a typo that just slipped by the editors. It also wasn't clear in the book whether Windows Mail was still part of the Microsoft Office suite, if it's an independent program or if it's fully integrated with the Vista operating system. (see below for correction)

    I ran across a couple of sentences in the security chapter that didn't quite make sense: "Windows Vista includes Windows Defender, which helps protect against malware and spyware..." and "You can also start Windows Defender to run a virus scan of your computer". Malware (malicious software) is a generic term for all software that could be harmful to computer while spyware is a specific type of malware. The term "malware" could be used to describe adware, spyware, viruses in general or specific types of viruses such as trojans or worms. The first sentence could be interpreted as indicating Windows Defender is a defense for spyware but the second sentence makes it seem as if it is also a defense against viruses. I don't think the home user is beyond understanding some additional details such as the different types of malicious software and what Windows Defender does and doesn't defend against. On the other hand, I can understand why the sentence "You'll find different types of modems from dial-up, to cable, to DSL..." is worded as it is since most home users don't realize that cable and DSL "modems" aren't really modems at all (despite the fact that they are commonly called such).

    Many of the activities described in the book are pretty much the same on XP as on Vista but I understand that they were included to make the book complete. I would have appreciated some sort of notice though when reading a task that is done differently on Vista than XP (such as the fact that "Printers" is located under Hardware and Sound on Vista and not Printers and Faxes as on XP). Of course the "Easy" series of books may not include that option so even if O'Hara thought of it, the editors may have nixed the idea. However, if ease of use is the focus of this series, highlighting new features in Vista would have been the way to go.

    One point that should have been mentioned more and wasn't has to do with the different versions of Vista. While the home user might be unlikely to purchase the Business and Ultimate Editions, there are enough differences between the Home Basic and Home Premium versions to make detailing the distinctions necessary. Microsoft's Windows Vista site provides this information in a pretty "easy-to-understand" manner. In fact, a "which version to buy" section in the front matter of the book would have proved helpful to the target audience.

    I don't know if people owning Windows XP Home Edition PCs and laptops are going to throw away their computers and buy new hardware with Windows Vista installed (some may have to if their computers don't meet Vista's hardware requirements) but I rather believe that folks will try to upgrade instead. This information is probably out of the scope of the text since the book is entirely focused on how to perform tasks on Vista and not how to go out and get it. Still, before you can do anything at all with Vista, you have to figure out how to get it on your computer or at least how to choose a version of Vista to get on a new PC.

    I'm trying not to be "picky" but I've not always been a "technical" person. I remember the days when I was afraid to even open up the case of a PC for fear of breaking something inside. As an end user knowing little about how computers worked, I still would have wanted a guide through the different versions of Vista and some clearer definitions about some of the features (particularly Windows Defender). If you want a book that just tells you how to perform common tasks on a generic, vanilla-flavored Vista computer, this book will be really helpful. However, this text addresses itself to the lowest common denominator among home users and doesn't seem to give credit to those who might be a little more knowledgeable.

    EDIT: I've been informed that the default mail program for XP is Outlook Express. I've only used XP with MS Office already installed so made a wrong assumption. My apologies.
     
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  2. simongrahamuk
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    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

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    Trip,

    As far as I'm aware the default mail client that comes with XP is MS Outlook Express. Outlook is a program that is part of the Office suite, and as such would only be installed if the user uses MS Office.
     
  3. Boycie
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    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

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    Si,

    Got to disagree with you there mate. I installed a Vanilla XP tonight, and it has Outlook Express as standard.

    Si
     
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  4. simongrahamuk
    Honorary Member

    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

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    Isn't that what I said? :blink

    I blame MS for having two simillarly named products!
     
  5. Boycie
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    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

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    Si,

    Sorry mate, I misread your post. The way I read it, was you only *had* Outlook if you had Office installed. Did you mean Office Outlook?

    Si
     
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  6. simongrahamuk
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    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

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    Yep,

    Easiest way to explain -

    Outlook Express = Comes installed with XP.

    Outlook = Part of the MS office Suite, also comes as part of Exchange (I believe). Is a much more powerful program than Outlook Express.
     
  7. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Oops. My bad. I've always used XP with MS Office installed and so always had access to Outlook. I'd better make a few corrections. :oops:
     
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  8. Boycie
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    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

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    Si, Trip :hug

    :smile
     
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