Windows 7: The Definitive Guide by William R. Stanek is an excellent guide to the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Windows. It is well written, well organized, and chock full of useful advice, tips, and tricks for getting the most out of Windows 7.
Something for Everyone
Although not a "Windows 7 for Beginners" book, Windows 7: The Definitive Guide does cover a lot of the basics of Windows 7, making this Windows 7 manual appeal to a broad range of users. The general assumption is that the user has a basic familiarity with prior versions of Windows. As a user who did not upgrade to Windows Vista (and from what I hear I am far from alone in this regard) it is especially useful in that it does an excellent job of covering the substantial differences between Windows 7 and Windows XP, as well as Vista. I found the in-depth coverage of graphical user interface versus performance especially interesting, as I did not realize that Windows 7 was perfectly happy running on older hardware (an absolute impossibility with Vista).
Advanced Users (and Systems Administrators) will appreciate the detailed coverage of system management issues in Windows 7, such as user and group account management, disk partitioning, RAID, system backup and recovery, wired and wireless networking, security, and problem resolution.
The book is logically organized, with early chapters focusing on setup, configuration, optimization, and the installation and management of Hardware devices and Software. User Interface topics such as the Aero Glass feature are described in detail as are the new Media Management features. Middle sections of the book describe Networking, including Broadband, Wireless, and VPN connectivity. There is an excellent chapter on firewalls and malware – complex topics that are very well described in layman's terms.
The later chapters deal with more advanced system management issues such as Troubleshooting, Support, and Maintenance. For Power Users, the last section of the book contains in-depth chapters on installation, boot management, etc.
When I acquired the book I thought (as I usually do with books such as these) that I would use it as more as a manual, referring to selected topics on an as-needed basis. Instead I wound up reading the book from cover to cover. I found reading up on some of the new features of Windows 7 to be very interesting, even those I may not use. This is mainly because the book is so well written and makes extensive use of Windows 7 Screen shots, step by step examples, and concise descriptions.
The One Windows 7 Manual You Need
In the preface, the author writes,
"For this book, I had the crazy idea that I could get everything I’ve learned about Windows 7 over the past many years into a single volume that was not only clear and concise but also straightforward and easy to use, giving you, the reader, maximum value and maximum learning potential."
William R. Stanek has accomplished his goal. I highly recommend Windows 7: The Definitive Guide to anyone needing a single source of information for Windows 7, whether at home or at work.