I selected this title because I'm eager to learn more about Windows 7. This book fulfills that goal. I wish I had it when I was doing some light beta testing of Windows 7. But since, as of this writing, Windows 7 is less than a month away, that's plenty of time for me to peruse the chapters of this book that will help me get the most out of Windows 7.
The book is huge, if you gauge it by the number of pages -- it's got over 1000! But the book is filled with tons of screenshots and charts, so it's actually pretty easy to read through the book. Not that this book is intended to be read cover to cover -- it's not, and the authors say that explicitly. It's meant for you to jump around, and so that's what I did to prepare this review. The book is surprisingly light for being 1000 pages, and yet the paper isn't thin.
First thing, I was surprised that this book is much more than just Windows 7. There's a chapter on Windows Home Server, which is something I've been very interested in since buying an Acer Home Server. There's also a chapter on Zune, Internet Explorer 8, Windows Live, and more. So, while the book centers on Windows 7, it covers with some level of depth companion technologies and tools that complete Windows 7 or are complimentary to it.
Reading the book is surprisingly easy to do. The writing style is very casual and straightforward. I found the language to be easy to understand and follow. The authors lace the writing with humor. For example, on describing the End-User License Agreement, they quip, "We're not lawyers, but we think it says that Microsoft exerts certain rights over your first-born and your soul." But this isn't written like a "Dummies" book, so the humor doesn't get in the way of the information they provide.
Although it says on the back cover that the intended audience is Intermediate to Advanced, I think that even a Beginner could read this book. Sure, it'd have to be a beginner who was really enthusiastic about computers and learning Windows 7, but I thought the authors didn't presume very much when they explained things.
The book has lots of "secrets" interspersed throughout. Sometimes they're things you probably know, but many other times they share information tidbits which are really helpful. When I read over the chapter on Parental Controls, I learned quite a bit of what's new in Windows 7, and how to deal with the changes to the way it works in Windows 7. When I read the chapter on upgrading to Windows 7, there was a lot of good information, including how to install a fresh, full copy of Windows 7 from an Upgrade DVD (not a Full Version), which without the "secret" it can't be done. They're not sharing hacks, rather, they're sharing how to work in ways that either aren't obvious or functionality that Microsoft has intentionally obscured. So, the "secrets" are condensed explanations of how Windows 7 works -- and having a collection of these bound and printed is a sweet way of learning this operating system.
They've got a VERY helpful chapter on upgrading to Windows 7. Very helpful explanations of the many different flavors of Windows 7, and they give their own recommendation for which version might be right for you.
A book this big needs a good index. I went there a few times and found what I was looking for.
It's not a perfect book. I've always had issues with laptops and power management, and I can't tell by reading this book if any substantive improvements have been made to the the way that Windows 7 implements power management. Their description of the differences between Power Saver, Balance, and High Performance still aren't satisfactory enough to know what, REALLY, these settings are doing. And when they covered Windows Home Server, they neglected to say that you can have only 10 user accounts (they note a 10 computer limit, but the problem I had was when I tried creating an 11th user account). So, this isn't the definitive explanation of every possible Window function and feature -- if it were, it would be a multi-volume set and no one would buy or read it.
Instead, the authors have put together a fine book that highlights all that's new in Windows 7 so you know what to expect, what's there. Skim through it to find the major functions you're interested in, and carefully read to understand those functions. They often compare/contrast Windows 7 to Vista and/or XP, so if you know how to use a PC-based Windows computer, they've reached out to you to help bring you aboard the Windows 7 juggernaut.
In short: Highly recommended!!