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Easy to read coverage of Windows 8 feature use and navigation
on 31 October 2012
The way we interact with the Windows operating system has changed. The concepts of "touch" and gestures have taken over, but not so much that the keyboard and mouse are no longer useful. Windows 8: Out of the Box is a high-level look at how touch has been integrated into Windows 8. It's not a technical book, it's aimed at all audiences from young to old, from tech-savvy to first-time users. Appealing to a wide audience is evident in the author's writing style: it is relaxed and factual - I found it very easy to read.
The Windows 8 "touch" user interface and the focus on "content over chrome" means a lot of the functionality that we're used to seeing in menus or on-screen has been tidied away. Even as an experienced Windows user, I found some great tips in this book and found out how to reach the functionality that eluded me!
Weighing in at 120 pages split over 12 chapters, makes Windows 8: Out of the Box an ideal size to keep it close to your Windows 8 laptop, tablet or PC - it's not one of those heavyweight doorstops! Each chapter is fairly short (typically about 10 pages each) and makes use of colour screenshots to provide a better explanation of the topic in hand. There are many "tips" and "cautions" highlighted in each chapter, these are easy to spot and provide some great takeaways.
The chapters focus on common "tasks", e.g. "Using Email and the Internet" or "Importing, Viewing and Editing Your Digital Photographs and Videos", etc. This is perfect if you are new to Windows 8 as many of the "how do I do..."'s are covered. I was pleased to see that each chapter includes a "Top Tips from This Chapter" summary - you can see at a glance what you'll be learning over the pages that follow. Similarly, there's good use of chapter cross-referencing. Whilst the tasks are fairly high-level, even experienced users may learn where menu options are or how to do something using touch in place of a mouse drag/click. I know I've found myself looking at a new Windows 8 application and thinking "now what?" - the answers, Mike kindly provides in this book!
One thing that I felt was missing from this book was an appendix that put the Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts in one place. There are many keyboard shortcuts explained in each chapter, however they are dispersed throughout the book. It's worth noting that this book is about Windows 8, not specifically Windows RT. Whilst there is a lot of overlap, there are a couple of chapters that are not applicable to Windows RT. You'll still get a lot out of this book if you are using a Windows RT device.
If you are new to Windows 8, you should buy this book in order to gain a good understanding of the touch interface and how to get the best out of Windows 8. If you are coming to Windows 8 from a previous version of Windows, this book is worth buying because it helps build a bridge from the land of the 'desktop' and the mouse/keyboard over to the land where touch and/or mouse gestures are important navigation aids!