Windows XP for Dummies
Windows XP for Dummies does a good job in its role as the flagship of the Dummies line, providing Windows novices with a guided introduction to Microsoft's latest and most feature-rich operating system for everyday computer users. Its treatment of computer, Windows, and Internet fundamentals is among the best on the market, and author Andy Rathbone has an appealing way of writing that's simultaneously fun and detail-rich. If you're a Windows novice — meaning you don't know how to undelete a file that's been sent to the Recycle Bin, or what a Web browser is, or what it means to "cut and paste" text — you will get a lot out of Rathbone's work.
Some aspects of this book could be better, such as the part of the networking chapter that calls for an Ethernet hub without noting that a switch, though possibly more expensive, would do the job better, without any additional hassle. The networking coverage also does an inadequate job of explaining how to share a cable modem or DSL connection among several computers. This is a serious shortcoming, and we're getting to the point in our evolution as a society of computer users at which we can assume that everyone knows what the "Cancel" button does and would rather read about the newer, more exciting things that Windows XP can do. Even the dummies aren't that dumb anymore.
But that said — and Rathbone does confine a lot of the really elementary stuff to a skinny introductory chapter — this book is a boon to people who aren't familiar with Windows XP or its immediate predecessors (including Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me). It's also great for people who have learned a little about Windows on the job or from their kids, and want to expand on what they know.