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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual Book Review

I have said more than once that one of the biggest misconceptions people have about my skill set is that because I can develop software for the iPhone, iPad, and Windows 8 tablets, I must know everything there is to know about using them. 90% of my time spent on a computer is spent in code, UML tools, and using basic Word functionality.

I do not play games, make photo albums, plan vacations, or read books on them. In other words, I am not as computer savvy as the business user or teenager that use them to connect to the world and conduct their business or coordinate a gaming session.

I am very grateful for the Missing Manual series because they put everything I need to know about my devices in one place, and I don't have to spend the time looking for features.

I have listed the eight parts of this Missing Manual and the chapters they contain below.

Part One. TileWorld
1. The Start Screen
2. Customizing the Lock, Login & Start Screens
3. How TileWorld Works
4. TileWorld’s Starter Apps
5. TileWorld Settings

Part Two. The Windows Desktop
6. File Explorer, Folders & the Taskbar
7. Searching & Organizing Your Files
8. Redesigning Your Desktop World
9. Help at the Desktop
10. Programs & Documents
11. The Desktop’s Starter Programs
12. The Control Panel

Part Three. Windows Online
13. Hooking Up to the Internet
14. Security & Privacy
15. Internet Explorer 11
16. Windows Live Mail

Part Four. Pictures & Music
17. Windows Photo Gallery
18. Windows Media Player

Part Five. Hardware & Peripherals
19. Printing, Fonts & Faxing
20. Hardware & Drivers

Part Six. PC Health
21. Maintenance, Speed Tweaks & Troubleshooting
22. Backups & File History
23. The Disk Chapter

Part Seven. The Windows Network
24. Accounts (and Logging On)
25. Setting Up a Small Network
26. Corporate Networks
27. Sharing Files on the Network
28. The Road Warrior’s Handbook

Part Eight. Appendixes
A. Installing Windows 8.1
B. Fun with the Registry
C. Where’d It Go?
D. Master List of Gestures & Keyboard Shortcuts

As with all the Missing Manuals, the book is on the Missing Manuals web site. It has links to all the sites, software, and white papers mentioned in each chapter. They are organized by chapter so they are easy to find.

One of the things that is nice about this Missing Manual is that it covers Windows 8.1 WinRT (the book calls this the TileWorld) and Windows 8.1 Desktop in detail, and then proceeds to cover the context in which you will be using both. The book getting online, working with media and pictures, keeping your PC healthy, hardware, and networking. That makes the book a great asset for those people who need to get their devices attached to the rest of the world.

I have been using Windows 8 since Microsoft made the first pre-release available to download in 2011. Until a few months ago I went straight to the desktop and used WinRT for nothing. Then I was assigned to do a Proof of Concept in WinRT. It is moving an old Windows Forms application to WinRT to take advantage of newer technology and add long awaited enhancements.

I have been working on it for a while and have referenced this book often. It has helped me get up to speed on the WinRT ins and outs much quicker than I would have just playing around with it.

Personally I do not like WinRT. There are many features that don't work as advertised or as expected. Being able to validate how something should work with this book has helped me differentiate between things I may be doing wrong, and the things Microsoft just haven't implemented correctly.

An example of one of those things is Sharing using the Share Charm to move data back and forth between applications. Many of Microsoft's own products do not work correctly. The one that has given me the most grief is OneNote for WinRT. It cannot even Share correctly with Microsoft's own products correctly, so trying to get it to work with a custom application is out of the question. This book has helped me reach this and many more conclusions much faster than I normally would without it.

The index is very thorough and laid out really nice. This may seem trivial, but I am currently reading two programming books, and one of them has a horrible index, and the other has none. They are both great books, but they won't be very good references at all.

I highly recommend this book to the user that wants to know how to use all the applications and features included with Windows 8.1. The most amazing thing about this book is how many topics the author covers, and they cover them in detail giving lots of screenshots so you can see what they're discussing.

If you are thinking about buying your first PC or Tablet with Windows 8.1, this book is perfect for seeing what you'll be getting.

If you already own a PC or Tablet with Windows 8.1, this book can definitely help improve your experience using it.

Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual



Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual

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More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.