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Mastering Windows XP Professional
by Mark Minasi
ISBN 0782141145 / 9780782141146 / 0-7821-4114-5
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The risk Mark Minasi takes in Mastering Windows XP Professional is in attempting to cover a shockingly broad swathe of knowledge. He begins with instructions for manipulating (maximizing, minimizing, and closing) windows and concludes with making static entries in the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) cache for speedier routing. That's like writing a manual for an automobile that begins with opening the passenger-side door, goes all the way through driving and routine maintenance, and concludes with instructions for tweaking the fuel-injection system for a tiny horsepower gain. Does he pull it off? By and large, yes, if you adopt the philosophy that this book isn't sacred writ and is meant only to clarify details as you develop understanding of Windows XP for yourself. Stuck on how to "print to a file," and why you'd want to do that? There's a succinct passage on that subject. Considering broadband Internet options? Minasi summarizes the pros and cons of each nicely. Large subjects that require knowledge of subjects outside of Windows--like scripting for the Windows Script Host (WSH), which is a kind of programming--are a hard fit for encyclopedic books like this one. They deserve (and have) books of their own, and the distilled entry in this omnibus is bound to seem either too elementary to be useful or too obscure to be understood.
The problem with this book is that it's better suited to novice and moderately experienced computer users who should be using Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, not the more feature-rich Professional version. Users of Windows XP Professional probably won't need to be told how to shut their machines off but may well want detailed coverage of how to configure Internet Information Services (IIS), a subject to which Minasi gives only two pages. Though it's not for power users or administrators of Windows XP Professional, this book is a good choice for users of Windows XP Home Edition, as well as novices who have had Professional forced upon them by a corporate computing department. --David Wall
Topics covered: Nearly all everyday aspects of Windows XP Professional (like Internet connectivity, formatting and printing, and local-area network hookups) and many more advanced subjects (like firewalling, Registry editing, scripting, and security configuration). New features like fax services, system rollback, and the handy photo viewer are dealt with nicely. [via]