NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2011
Windows 7 Bible
Wayne O . Evans, Member,
Tucson Computer Society, Arizona

woevans (at) live.com (click to email author)

This is a well-written in-depth discussion of Windows 7 features. The information is well presented for both novice and experienced Windows 7 readers. The book is loaded with illustrations and tips that help explain the details of Windows 7. The size of the book (over 1200 pages) makes it awkward to carry around.

There are 11 parts, 10 major topics and the appendix. Every part (section) concludes with a discussion of trouble-shooting. Each of the 54 chapters has a trouble-shooting and wrap-up summary, I recommend reading the wrap-up first for a quick preview of the material in the chapter, and then as intended, for review of the chapter.

Part 1 – Getting Started, Getting Secure
The first chapter covers the new features in Windows 7. Essential start-up information is provided under the setting up of user accounts and use of parental controls.

Part 2 – Batten Down the Security Hatches
Security features of virus checkers, firewalls, and the need to install security updates are explained. The anti-virus discussion could have included some details explaining how virus checkers function and the importance of automatic update of virus signatures. (See suggestion at end of review.)

Part 3 – Personalizing Windows 7
The personalization of the desktop and start-up procedures describe how to customize the appearance and function of Windows 7. The tip in Chapter 13 on customizing the system to bypass the logon page is useful. Chapter 14 focuses on accessories and how to transfer files from one system to another.

Part 4 – Using the Internet
The discussion on Internet Explorer covers its basic functions but explains other features. I found this to be an excellent chapter. There is extensive discussion on Windows Live Mail and blogs. The section concludes with a discussion of trouble-shooting internet problems.

Part 5 – Pictures. Music, and Movies
There is a lengthy discussion of media (pictures, music, movies) file types. Importing media into your computer is described for DVD and VCD. This section should be read multiple times, as there is a wealth of information.

Part 6 – Managing Files and Folders
“Where is my data?” is one of the most frequent questions asked by the novice user. That question and more are answered in this section. The discussion of basics of drives, folders and files is a MUST READ for computer novices. The management and search options explain needed skills to manage data on your computer.

Part 7 – Printing, Faxing, and Scanning
Details on printer installation are followed with information on how to print documents and manage printer jobs. The scanning and faxing of documents is covered.

Part 8 – Installing and Removing Programs
One chapter is devoted to installing and upgrading new programs. The use of the compatibility features to run programs written to run on earlier versions (DOS, Windows 95/98/XP) is explained.

One chapter focuses on repair and removal of programs. The chapter on default programs is valuable for even the experienced user. The section concludes with a chapter on the Part 9 Hardware and Performance Tuning. I did not expect hardware installation and removal in a Windows 7 discussion. The greatest value of this section is that it serves as a primer to hardware features (USB ports, master and slave drives, disk partitioning and Bluetooth devices). Installing and removing hardware is well written. However, I recommend you consider more detailed documentation before attempting major hardware changes (CPU Upgrade and hard drive).

The configuration of file systems for hard drives and disk partitioning is also not for novices. The section concludes with syncing devices and trouble-shooting.

Chapter 49 on performance tuning is a MUST READ for those wishing to get the most out of their system. The author does an excellent job describing the basic features of the Windows 7 Performance Monitor in a limited number of pages, but he admits it is a complex topic and could easily cover several chapters.

Part 10 – Networking and Sharing
Wired and wireless LAN (Local Area Network) connections and routers are explained with recommendations for planning and installing a home network. File and hardware sharing configuration is well documented.

Part 11 – Appendices
Since new computers will likely have Windows 7 installed, Appendices A and B will have little use for the majority of users. Appendix A is a discussion on how to upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7. Appendix B describes the installation of Windows 7 on a new system.

Appendix C on shortcut keys is very useful. I have copied these seven pages for quick reference.

Other Comments

General As an experienced user of Windows 7 I enjoyed reading The Windows 7 Bible. While reviewing it I discovered new and very useful information. The right amount of detail is provided, so it is possible to discover new ways to use specific Windows features. I liked the TIPS and SUMMARY at the end of each chapter. The information was well organized and illustrations helped me understand the concepts.

The Windows 7 Bible is an excellent book but I would not recommend it as the first book a novice picks up. The author has done an excellent job making the information easy to read and understand, but the sheer size of the book could discourage a novice reader. I see three ways to read the book:

1) Read the book from start to finish (not advised). Better to follow the author’s recommendations in Chapter 1 and skip around to chapters of interest.

2) Read the Chapter wrap-up summaries first; then read the Chapters that interest you (I recommend this method).

3) Use it as the excellent reference it is. There are so many options it is difficult to remember all of the details. When I wanted to refresh my memory on how to accomplish some task, I found the Windows 7 Bible was well organized so I could find the answer to my question quickly.

Suggested Improvements
While it is often difficult to challenge the author, in some cases I felt some improvements to the material would be useful. These are specific recommendations:

Chapter 8: The discussion on virus protection could be improved with the following How do Virus Scanners Work: You may have seen the posters in a public building of individuals wanted by law enforcement. The picture shows the image of the suspected criminals. Virus checkers use a similar technique: the picture is similar to the virus signature. The virus signature is a sequence of bits (data) that can be found in the virus and the virus scanner simply looks for that sequence to detect a virus.

Keep your virus signatures up to date: Reverting back to the picture analogy, it is essential to have pictures of current criminals posted. In a similar manner the virus scanner must have virus signatures for the latest virus. The third party vendors provide an update facility to download the current virus signatures. You should allow your virus signatures to be updated on a regular basis. I recommend at least daily.

Free Virus Checkers: While third party vendors offer virus scanners for a fee, some vendors (Avast, AVG FREE) offer a scaled down version of their product, often for no charge.

For those cost-conscious individuals, if you elect not to install a virus checker because of cost, then look for and install the free versions. Most free virus checkers provide a high degree of protection and are recommended if you elect not to buy a more complete version.

About: Windows 7 Bible
Author: Jim Boyce
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN?10: 0470509090
ISBN?13: 978-0470509098
Price: $39,99, $26.39 @ Amazon

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