The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'The Mother of All Windows 95 Books':
Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
The "mother of all" conceit in the title is appropriate in this case.
Implying, as it does, that this is either the only book that you will
ever need, or that all other books are pale imitation is a rather
dangerous position to take. After all, as Microsoft itself can
attest, when you are playing King of the Hill and scramble to the top,
everyone else is more than willing to push you off. This Windows 95
guide, though, does have something for just about everyone.
Leonhard and Simon have a track record for producing "hacker" books:
the kind of information needed by people who think "power users" are
ignorant flakes. This text follows in that same line. Chapter
eleven, on the Registry, is not something that many users will ever
try in this lifetime. But novices are in no way left out. The
content is readable and fully explained. Even some fairly technical
activities are listed step by step for anyone to read and perform.
The book starts with a chapter discussing whether or not you *want* to
get Windows 95. As the authors point out, this may be rather odd: if
you didn't have Win95, or weren't pretty committed to getting it, why
buy the book? Still, given the general willingness within the work to
point out the flaws in Windows 95, this chapter does have a definite
booster feel to it, and isn't entirely convincing.
Chapter two, on Windows concepts, presents the now usual guide to the
user interface and culture of the system. It does it in a serviceable
fashion, and with more background and breadth than do most similar
books. The core components, or basic functions, are well covered in
chapter three, with tools and accessories in chapter four. The
section on Internet setup may be particularly helpful for those
wanting to get onto the net but not interested in the Microsoft
Network. Chapters five through seven look at add-ons and upgrades, as
well as further information.
Discussion of installation itself is delayed until chapter 8. This
may be considered odd placement, but, as with thoughts of the need for
the first chapter, it may be quite suitable given the number of
readers who may have already started to use Windows 95. The material
covers both the "one button" setup that Microsoft would have you
believe is the only installation needed, plus some more technical
information that is likely to be more realistic.
Chapter nine, ten, and eleven become increasingly technical, covering
start up options, the control panel, and the Registry, among other
things. Appendices provide information such as the registered Windows
95 file type extensions, and the location of files on the Windows 95
distribution diskettes. There is also a contact list of computer and
software vendors, slightly marred by the lack (surprising in this day
and age) of email addresses. (In fact, the only email address listed
other than that of the authors is for one William H. Gates the third.
I am not sure whether the fact that he is listed under Gateway 2000 is
an error or supposed to be a joke.)
The coverage is commendably thorough. As noted, this book is not the
usual partisan copy of the documentation: the "Mother" series takes
great delight in finding bugs. On the way through, though, there were
some topics that I didn't catch the first time. As usual, my desires
with regard to computer use are fairly specialized, so I doubt that
too many people want to know how to create a shortcut, or put an item
on the desktop, for something that is already installed under the
"Programs" item in the "Start" menu. (However, I was interested
enough in Mao's seemingly promised entry for an "all other files"
viewer, and I didn't even find it the second time.)
Where the "Byte Guide to Optimizing Windows 95" (see reviews
suitable for experienced DOS users moving up, the Leonhard/Simon book
is applicable to a wide range of audiences from novice to advanced.
Mostly, of course, to advanced.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1997
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