Windows 8 Secrets by Paul Thurrott is a great look at Windows 8. As Paul says early in the book, he doesn’t try to re-explain Windows and expects a certain level of knowledge on which to build. He goes into just the right amount of detail about what’s new to Windows 8, including the Start Screen, Charms Bar, and using “Metro” style apps. This is a good read for anyone new to Windows 8, especially those who may be frustrated by the changes Microsoft introduced in this version. From Setup through Security and Recovery, Paul explains how to use Windows 8 well and avoid frustration. He’s quick to call out what works well with Windows 8 and what is still somewhat frustrating.
I’ve used Windows 8 since the preview days and thought I had a pretty good idea about the ins and outs of the operating system, but found that there was new information in here for me. He explained how the Web Installer works, which many people will use to upgrade. He even goes into a little detail on installing Windows 8 on a Mac, something more common in today’s Enterprise environment. Using Windows 8 with and without a touchscreen is explained, something much needed for the large shift in the user experience.
Storage spaces, a new way to handle tying drives together, is explained in some detail. This is a great way to link drives together to get more space or to mirror drives for disaster recovery. This is OS-level disk management and will never be as fast as dedicated hardware to handle your disks. File History is another option to help with recovery of changes to documents. This is useful if you have multiple people using your machine and could run the risk of a bad edit.
System Recovery is much improved. Where prior versions of Windows would require a complete re-install to repair, Windows 8 has a recovery option to fully reset your computer without losing all of your files. This is very useful if you run into issues that require repairing or resetting your system. Sadly, this may be necessary at times and I know I’ve read of some Surface users being forced to reset their machines.
There’s a quick mention of Enterprise features, but no major details. Windows to Go, Virtualization, and Bitlocker are mentioned, but just enough to let the reader know they exist and point them in the right direction for more information.
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this as a way to learn more about Windows 8. It’s worth a quick read if you’re trying to get up to speed on this new OS and aren’t sure where to start. I definitely wouldn’t recommend reading it cover to cover. It’s not a dry read, but targeting specific areas where you want to know more is a better strategy.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.