Book Review - Teach Yourself Visually Windows 8

Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

I’m sure by now I don’t need to say how much I like simple, concise, well-illustrated guides. (But for readers who are new to my book reviews, yep, that’s what I like.) :) Since I am a newcomer to Windows 8, I had high hopes that Teach Yourself Visually Windows 8 would be exactly right for someone like me. It’s part of a well-regarded series that’s known for being consistent in the way it simplifies complex tasks for the beginner. The book states right up front that it’s designed for the reader who has never used this particular technology or software application. So, was this book just what this beginner wanted? Let’s see.

Short and sweet

Teach Yourself Visually Windows 8 takes the simplest, most straightforward approach, and does not go into a lot of detail about how and why things work. The goal is to have the reader up and running, with confidence in the basics, in the shortest possible time. The book also assumes that the reader has little or no experience with previous versions of Windows, and is seeking to learn how to use a computer that comes with Windows 8 already installed.

Each topic is covered in one or two pages, and each page is illustrated in color. Each illustration is accompanied by numbered and lettered buttons that explain what the user is to do, step by step, and explain what should happen next. Nearly every topic is also accompanied by tips that explain some point that might be unclear for someone who’s not yet very familiar with Windows. This really is a book for the absolute beginner, who may not yet know how to do some of the things that more experienced users will take for granted.

If you are looking for in-depth explanations of how things work, this book isn’t for you and I recommend Windows 8 Step By Step instead. Teach Yourself Visually Windows 8 also gives roughly equal space to desktop and tablet PCs, which should make it suitable for nearly every beginner.

The order of things

The chapters are arranged in what I think is an odd order, considering the book’s intended audience:

  • Getting Started with Windows 8
  • Launching and Working with Apps
  • Getting Connected to the Internet
  • Using the Windows 8 Apps
  • Surfing the World Wide Web
  • Working with E-Mail and Calendars
  • Working with Images
  • Playing Music and Other Media
  • Creating and Editing Documents
  • Working with Files
  • Sharing Your Computer
  • Implementing Security
  • Customizing Windows 8
  • Maintaining Windows 8

I don’t think this is a natural progression for someone who’s coming to Windows for the very first time. To me, it makes a lot more sense to do it this way:

  • Getting Started with Windows 8
  • Customizing Windows 8
  • Implementing Security
  • Sharing Your Computer
  • Getting Connected to the Internet
  • Surfing the World Wide Web
  • Using the Windows 8 Apps
  • Launching and Working with Apps
  • Working with E-Mail and Calendars
  • Working with Images
  • Playing Music and Other Media
  • Creating and Editing Documents
  • Working with Files
  • Maintaining Windows 8

That’s speaking as a newcomer to Windows 8. But, since I am not the author or the editor of the book, I can’t mark it down for not being laid out my way. This is just my opinion, and I would love to hear our members’ opinions on this.

Show and Tell

Many of the chapters are structured in much the same way. There’s a simple explanation of basic concepts, and then the book walks the reader through more specific tasks. For example, the chapter that deals with connecting to the internet first explains internet service providers, connection speed, connection usage, broadband internet connections, wireless connections, and dial-up connections before going into more detail about how all that works. The chapter on creating documents first explains what documents are (text, word processing, drawing and email messages) and then walks the user through creating each type of document. By the end of each chapter, the reader should have a good basic understanding of how things work. The large, completely annotated illustrations make each concept easy to understand, and the book as a whole can be kept handy for reference in the future. Each chapter also has a brightly colored header and title pages that are color coded to the Table of Contents, making them easy to locate in the book (not that it’s difficult to locate anything, since the book is relatively short and has a detailed Table of Contents and Index).

So, what did I think?

The authors clearly know their subject and their intended audience. Everything is explained in the simplest, clearest possible terms, and they don’t assume any previous knowledge on the part of the reader. The book’s pages are large and attractively laid out, and the illustrations and annotations are easy to understand. The book’s purpose is to provide a solid beginning for a new user, and to serve as an easily searched, easily read reference book thereafter. It is not intended for more experienced users, or for people who want to go beyond the basics.

Product Rated
5/5

Verdict

People who are new to computers should find this book very appealing. The authors don’t talk down to them and make sure that everything is thoroughly illustrated. Seeing what the screen is supposed to look like will be a definite plus for many people (like me). The book doesn’t load the newcomer down with a lot of material, and it should give nearly everyone confidence to get up and running with Windows 8 quickly. This is the kind of book I would buy for people in my family who just need confidence that yes, they can do it.