Microsoft isn't rich because of its software alone, but because of the money it saves on user manuals.
The included manual for Windows XP Home Edition is a 22-page booklet, but only 15 of the pages have printing on them. (Guess they were saving ink, too.)
Of course, there's online help available, and telephone help and help within the system itself. But for many, if they could get the machine on line, they wouldn't be looking for help in the first place, and telephone help costs.
For those folks, there's David Pogue's "Windows XP Home Edition, The Missing Manual, The Book That Should Have Been In The Box." Published by Pogue Press/O'Reilly, the $24.95 paperback covers just about everything there is to cover in XP in 572 pages, with print on every one of them.
Pogue, who has done previous work in the "missing-manual" genre, is a clear and gifted writer who is able to cut through the technobabble and show the reader how to solve problems and get stuff done.
Example: a common problem under Windows XP is that software that worked well on a previous Windows version either doesn't work at all, or works with some newfound kinks and stumbles. Pogue shows how to get Windows to run that program in an earlier Windows version compatability mode.
His advice is pithy. To the question of any differences between Windows XP Home and Professional editions, his view: "The Home and Professional editions look alike, generally work alike, and, are based on the same multigigabyte glob of software code." Windows XP Professional has some extra features, but those are "... interesting primarily to professonal corporate network nerds ..."
While the basics are covered, there's stuff here for the geek wannabes, as well. Under the heading "Turn a Drive Into a Folder," Pogue writes, "Talk about techie: Most people could go their entire lives without needing this feature, or even imagining that it exists. But Microsoft loves power users, and this one's for them."
There's also the interesting note that the author, who suffers from an "annoying and permanent wrist ailment," wrote the book by using Dragon Naturally Speaking voice-to-text software.
The illustrations of the various Windows XP menus were captured by SnagIt screen-capture software (www.techsmith.com).
The Missing Manual is an ideal companion for both first-time XP users and more experienced users who find themselves flummoxed by the software. The book is widely available in stores and the ISBN number is 0-596-00260-2.
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