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Windows 8 for Tablets Plain & Simple

Publisher: O'Reilly

Windows 8 for Tablets Plain & Simple is your basic, get to know a new operating system book. Full color pictures and screenshots make reading this book quite easy on the eyes. Steps are marked out with orange numbered bubbles, and points of interest are highlighted in colored bubbles as well. Overall, the book has a nice, uncluttered feel, and flows nicely. It reads less like a book and more like an instructional diagram throughout. It covers all the basics of Windows 8, including questions like "What are these tile things and what can I do with them?" to more frustrating questions like "Where the heck are my programs?" and it does a good job of keeping things simple.

Gestures and touch are the "secrets" of any tablet-based OS, and so youíd expect a book on Windows 8 to have a big section on that. It is covered quite well, and thereís a picture reference of the tutorials in the back of the book that shows you just how your finger needs to move to get things done (in case itís not quite clear how to "pinch" a screen). But nearly every section in the book includes instructions on the appropriate gestures to use to be more efficient with your tablet.

The Wi-Fi section, in particular, is very useful to users of tablets and laptops. After all, if you canít get on the internet, youíre stuck without access to most of what you use a wireless device for. And since there used to be a simple wireless icon at the bottom right side of the screen in Windows 7, knowing where to navigate for this item is very important. The section also covers metering, which is new to the OS and a subject that can cause some confusion (especially to people who are coming from a desktop computer background). Unfortunately, I think the book could do a better job of explaining what exactly the feature does before it explains how to turn it on. It does explain what the average user needs to know, and thatís the fact that it will reduce data usage and conserve data if your mobile broadband plan has a cap. And thatís basically how the entire book works: it tells you what you need to know, not necessarily how the OS ticks underneath.

Speaking of the Wi-Fi section, it does cover all the essentials that youíd need to know, as well as the more frustrating "what if" scenarios. If you run into problems because, say, your Wi-Fi network doesnít broadcast its SSID, just keep reading though the chapter and youíll eventually find the section on manually creating a profile. And this book does that very well: covering the essentials. From the unsexy things like creating recovery drives and connecting to printers, to the fun stuff like sharing video and using apps, youíll be able to use your tablet like a pro by the end of this book.

Though you may be able to make it through using this book for your desktop computer, it is very much tailored to the tablet experience of Windows 8. For example, if youíre told to "swipe inward from the right edge of the screen," well, that doesnít work with a mouse and keyboard. You can guess from the instructions that it will have something to do with the right side of the screen, so you might be able to figure out that you need to hover over the right side of the screen to access this menu on a desktop. You will, however, have to guess at how most of these things work. Fortunately, most of the differences really lie in how to access a menu. Once you actually get into the Start menu, for example, thereís not much fancy swiping or touching that youíll have to do, and the two platforms are pretty similar at that point.

Most of the criticisms I had were related to things outside the scope of the book, so to be completely fair, itís not a big failing of the book at all. The book does walk you through the basics of getting to know your Windows 8 tablet, and thatís what it does very well. Thereís a whole lot thatís new to Windows 8, and a whole lot thatís missing. This book shows you what you need to know to utilize Windows 8 effectively (such as where to find the darn shutdown button now), and itís quite an easy read as well. It just wonít necessarily point out everything thatís different, and explain everything thatís new.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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