Windows 10 For Dummies by Andy Rathbone (book review and computer software analysis part 1).

Irrespective of not having Windows 10 to hand, I immediately started reading ‘The Windows 10 For Dummies’ book when it arrived to review, immediately picking out things I need to know and I’ll briefly summarise here. Frankly, there’s so much speculation in the press and media, that it’s hard to say what made the final edition and this appears to be the first book on the final W10 edition given to computer manufacturers.


I should point out from the start and confirmed by author Andy Rathbone himself that this book should be seen as a primer and that there will be other books due out, not necessarily from him, becoming available going into more detail and the depth you might need. However, seeing as W10 is supposed to be the ‘final’ ever version of Windows and with a lot of changes, I felt when selecting this book for review that I’d rather start with understanding the basics, as I’m sure many of you will, too. How intuitive W10 will be is up in the air until it downloads. As Microsoft is spreading that out to prevent Internet congestion, that could be anytime in the next 6 months for W8 users and a little longer for W7 users. Rathbone pointed out to me that if you’re happy with W7, accept the download but don’t install until you’ve seen if others have had seen any bugs or other problems reveal themselves. In both cases, certainly make sure you’ve got your recovery and rescue DVDs/CDs/flash drives where appropriate.

One of the first things that came out of this book is that W10 is only 16gB large. That’s 20gB smaller than earlier Windows so I can understand the shorter download time, which is 4gB, although I would reckon that would be a long night’s download, so it’s no wonder that Microsoft prefers to download it in chunks. There’s an indication that it will run earlier programs that ran on Vista, so some backward compatibility is there and I hope people will share which early programs still run especially, if you’re like me, still find a use for them and many don’t have updates.

Oddly, the book says nothing about installation but, presumably, it follows the pattern of at least W8. That being the case and as I did this recently, leave your Internet connection and any other computer-based hardware on so it can recognise and network with just to be one the safe side and it saves linking them all later. I’m a bit nervous about storing in the MS Cloud or OneDrive as its going to be called but that looks like it can be turned off. If you use a multitude of hardware, sharing your files amongst them via the Net might work in your favour although you will have to pay for higher than 15gB of space, although might be handy as a saver for your Favourites or Reading List.

The great news is that the Start menu is there. Unfortunately, there’s a bundle or app squares next to it. However, a simple thing to do and, only suggested in the book, is to create a directory square and put anything you don’t use in there so you can at least change your mind easily if you want to have them showing. I often do this with early Windows icons so shall continue with that practice. A nice thing to see back is the MS card games, although which isn’t noted. I’ve really been missing them this past month on W8 as they can often can my brain into gear.

Anyone who uses and likes the W8’s Charms bar will now find it in an App menu. Speaking of which, I’ve still to find out just how to use most Apps on W8 in the first place. All most of them do when I press them is appear wide on the screen and do nothing. I have to press the Windows button to get my screen back. Mind you, I am learning a few things that I can try out on W8 while waiting for it to be downloaded so there is an unusual side benefit.

Some things that are noted will have to be tried when I do have access, especially the bit where programs are open in an instant as, in this instance, seeing is believing. Those of you who like their open programs spread across the screen in a sensible fashion are going to be happy and Rathbone even shows how to do it when it isn’t.

I did find the desktop window on page 76 especially useful from the labelling point of view. Most of you will be familiar with ribbons used in MS Office but it looks like this will extend beyond that now so any regularly used commands can be stashed there for easy access. I do wonder if it will ever contain macros to make it easier to use combination commands. W10 will also watch what you do and anything or Internet place you go to regularly will always be at the top. That did make me wonder on how many of you will be hiding where you’ve been. What is important from this is the ‘Favourites’ list now also falls under the title of ‘Quick Access’. Is it just me but I can’t help wonder how many of you out there are going to rename some of these labels to something you’re more familiar with, assuming it will let you do so? I can, to some extent, recognise the maxim it’s new and need new names but if the function is the same and has an accepted name, why change something that works? The Edge sounds precarious compared to Internet Explorer and sounds more like you’re staring into an abyss. It does look like the slider control in the directories to enlarge pictures isn’t likely to be there because of the ribbon commands. Considering how this could be worked with a slider control on tablets, I tend to see this as a stupid omission.

A lot of the information covers old ground but as always with books such as this, allowances have to be made for novices who need information as much as people like me who want to know what’s different with W10. Everyone is covered and if you know the information, move on to the bits you don’t know, although being reminded of function isn’t a bad thing and avoids complacency. I suspect that those who haven’t gotten the hang of copy and paste will benefit here.

Likewise, knowing how to stop the printing queue when you’ve chosen more copies than you thought, although I disagree with Rathbone about not turning off the printer. Once it’s off, at least you’ve stopped printing until you find the printing queue command and remove the list. Printing is so fast these days, you’d wish there was a pause button as not all printers have it and, even when they do, don’t always stop immediately. Turning the printer back on, there might be something finishing off printing and you still need to eject the page so that’s not necessarily a bad thing and certainly a lot less wasteful of paper. The information for printing a page or three off the Net will be of value to many of you, especially in how to remove the ads. Saying that, seeing how they work isn’t always a bad idea and those of you involved in apps might see gaps you might exploit.

There are the odd things like when you dedicate files to a particular software, then when looking at the menu, you won’t see anything but that until you add other file selections to that option. When you consider that the likes of Word can open up multiple formats, this does seem a little short-sighted although presumably you can set them all up individually to the same software and Rathbone does point out there are ways around this.

I’m going to be interested in seeing if W10’s ability to find missing files is better than W8, more so as it starts off with the start than sections of a file name. Think of that when you’re looking for a YouTube file download and you can’t remember if it started with the singer/band or track name. Mind you, stashing them all in the same directory than My Documents is my favourite way to find them although the downloads don’t go there first of all.

The information about scanner software does make me wonder if that’s what’s been giving me only basic commands since I’ve been using W8 or simply because Hewlett Packard (other makes are available) want to sell a later model. Mind you, they might know that W10 might allow retrograde use. It’ll be interesting to see if that is true of that and other companies’ software.

The most important thing is to remember that, like the original Explorers, the MS Edge does not contain the directory explorer, which removes some confusion from the start and that has popped up in the press. Something that might be of importance for you people reading here, if you use it’s reading list to store pages, you can read their content later and presumably off-line. So, if you want to spend more deliberation over some SFC pages, you do have a means to do it here. That would also probably explain and contribute to the size of the C:\ Windows partition, as well as containing multiple accounts if you share your computer with your family. It’s also removed the necessity to put in http:\\www. any more, although it exists in W7, but as that could be automated, I’m surprised that took so long, let alone being declared, as I hadn’t spotted it until now. There is also a lot of detail on how it keeps you safe and warnings about toxic websites. From my pov, the verdict is out until I try it for real but I suspect this section of the book will be a must read for all of you who buy this book. As the likes of Norton and, presumably, other anti-virus software also warn of such toxicity, I do expect to see a double whammy taking place.

There is also a look at Windows Defender and Rathbone seems to stand in the middle as to how effective it is compared to bought anti-virus software you subscribe to. Whatever your choice, I do think it would offer protection when you first go on-line before you relink with any existing purchase.

The examination of Micosoft’s Edge, the replacement for Internet Explorer, although it will be around for some time to come yet, has me wavering over its benefits. More so, when I received a message from Norton saying its toolbar isn’t compatible to the Edge. I suspect that might change at some point but it does gave me a feeling of exclusivity that is going to have to be quickly broken. I should point out that W10 gives access to both Explorer and Edge so it’ll be interesting to see which people will turn to and use the most.

Something that will be important to all of you with children is how you can set up accounts on your computer that limits their access, especially into your computer and on the Net. Rathbone makes a good point for main users to have separate accounts to their administrator control as a means to get any warning about anything dodgy being downloaded off the Net. I’m having a serious ponder on that and I hope you will as well, providing it allows an easy access to switch to the administrator controls if it realises that both are the same.

In my Geek Guide last month, I commented about making a back-up copy of W10, so I’m going to put details here so you can have everything ready before installing. W10 will make a copy of the source version and depending on your computer manufacturer, you can save this to DVD or flash drive (if your computer manufacturer gives the option). If it does the latter, then chances are in your favour that you can boot up from a flash drive although Rathbone does suggest you check. At this time, I’ve yet to even see my BIOS on screen so it’s a good point. As this is such a valuable thing to copy, I’d be inclined to make copies in both formats. You don’t have to update it. I asked Andy Rathbone how big the flash drive should be and he said no lower than 8gb so my choice of 32gB seems a good choice although if you have 16gB, you should be OK. Just make sure each flash drive is exclusive to each computer you own.

The rescue disk is a different kettle of digital fish as its mostly an access key to a hidden partition that W10 keeps for such problem replacements. Although I won’t be able to confirm size for that yet, a CD should be enough and, again, keep it exclusive for each computer you have. Rathbone also told me that 64 and 32 bit Windows stores this hidden partition differently, so don’t mix your computers up and label properly what you have. I would definitely keep a CD for each computer than think one only will fix all and, again, make a second copy. I’m sure, like me, you’ll be relieved to know you are given adequate protection for your software.

He also says that an auxiliary or portable hard drive as large as your main hard drive for an automatic back-up and this will constitute the rescue files and as your main back-up where it stores File History and the System Image. If anything goes wrong, it can be plugged in and re-installed once you’ve used either the rescue or recovery disk. Rathbone also says that if you have a System Image, it has everything on it, including programs, although your auxiliary drive has to be dedicated to keeping it and to use File History for back-ups of regularly used files. Ensure your auxiliary drive is at least as big as your main computer’s hard drive. I can see why bigger sized ones are now available. W10 will also check over anything you reinstall to ensure its safe although you have to wonder why it didn’t catch it in the first place but that will be the test I guess.

Something I did find a little disheartening is that W10 won’t have the option to play DVDs through its software anymore, mostly because Microsoft don’t want to pay the various licensing fees but Rathbone says there are alternatives either from your computer manufacturer (Dell uses CyberLink for instance) or off the Net. Although this has started with W7, I’m sure some of you will see some advantages in this but I can’t help feel MS has essentially thrown away something rather useful and might encourage users to look elsewhere for other software as well if their manufacturer doesn’t supply this option.

If you have any urge to preserve your old Windows, make a copy of the windows.old directory to a CD or DVD because when your hard drive runs short of space, it will be amongst one of the things that will be first deleted. There was no indication as to whether you can have dual Windows systems. If anyone fines they can do this with W7 let me know.

You can tell every whip’s while, that the author doesn’t always like some of Microsoft’s decisions but that’s no more than what we would think ourselves. However something which should make most of us here happy is you can stop advert bombardment if you want.

Moving away from what I’ve learnt here, let’s look at the book itself where I can be more critical of is the screen swipes. Granted in black and white, the tones will turn out a lot paler but there are a variety of ways that could have made them darker or in some cases, lighter, and more visible on the printed page. Some of you with poor contrast eyesight might have some problems.

Rathbone also points out that it’s a lot easier to upgrade from W8/8.1 than from W7, so watch the Net to see what problems come up for about 6 months before doing so in case Microsoft fix any bugs. I think which computer I upgrade to first, I’ll still visit the MS website and get the updates just to be on the safe side. He also says that if you’re happy with your current Windows, then don’t upgrade for the sake of it. Always remember, Microsoft will send you the download but it’s up to you when you install it, even outside of the year free limit. I would also suggest making a back-up copy of this onto DVD, presuming it is visible, just to be on the safe side.

Although I’m writing this review before I get W10, I do feel better equipped to tackle it once its downloaded and will probably use it as a guide during my first weeks of using it. That is always a good sign. A review of which will happen when I do it, although I suspect many of you will be ahead as behind me, depending on whether you reserved a download or not.

The length of this review should be encouraging that you will learn a lot from this book even before installing W10 and I definitely think I’ve found it an asset. I should point out that the details noted are only a small part of the book and mostly hit on things I had most concerns with. There’s no mention of partitioning, so swot up on that from my Geek Guide or do it before installing. There is far more here and depending on your expertise or want of knowledge, then it will either put your mind to rest or wonder what it will do.

I’m in debt to Andy Rathbone for answering my questions where I needed more detail during the course of writing this review. Some of it is in this book but not to the detail I asked about. I’m just hoping I haven’t forgotten anything important. If anything, treat ‘Windows 10 For Dummies’ as getting you ready for life after the download and reduce any surprises to how are you going to deal with it.

GF Willmetts

August 2015

(pub: Wiley. 419 page illustrated indexed medium size softcover. Price: £17.99 (UK), $24.99 (US), $29.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-119-04936-4)

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