By Bjoern-Erik HartsfvangMicrosoft Press, August 2000285 pp. plus appendices and an indexISBN: 0-7356-0987-XPrice: $15.95 at
Bjoern-Erik Hartsfvang’s Do It Yourself Microsoft Windows Me provides readers with a basic understanding of the features of Microsoft’s new operating system as well as how the reader can customize Windows Me to suit his needs. The book, however, assumes that Windows Millennium Edition has already been installed on the reader’s computer and doesn’t discuss Windows Me’s inner workings. Overall, this book is light and consumer-friendly, well suited for beginners, and a good place for first-time computer users to gain an understanding of the new OS, but it offers little value to the experienced techie.

Windows Me features
A few of the Windows Me features that Hartsfvang explores include:

  • Adding new software.
  • Customizing the desktop and windows.
  • Organizing the hard disk.
  • Using CD-ROM, DVD, and Zip drives.
  • Using Windows Movie Maker.
  • Connecting to the Internet and using e-mail.
  • Configuring a home network.
  • Playing games.

Meet the Joneses
In an effort to capture the experience of a first-time computer user, Hartsfvang uses a fictitious family—the Joneses—to illustrate various Windows Me features. Although slightly amusing, I found the Joneses to be more annoying than helpful. Most chapters begin with a Jones family crisis that is resolved by chapter’s end. This gives each chapter the feel of a 30-minute sitcom without the laugh track.

Standalone chapters
While the book could be read straight through, most readers will likely focus on those chapters that discuss the subject matter that interests them the most. It has been my experience that most computer books are never read cover to cover. Hartsfvang does a good job recognizing this and has designed each chapter to stand on its own. After reading the introduction, readers can just as easily skip ahead to Chapter 6 to learn hard disk organization as they can jump over to Chapter 10 for a lesson on Microsoft Outlook Express.

The bottom line
Do It Yourself Microsoft Windows Me is a good read for the novice or home user, which is the new operating system’s target audience. For someone who has never used the Windows operating system or has very limited experience, this book offers the basic knowledge needed to operate a PC running the new OS. Most experienced computer users, however, are likely to be bored to tears by the book and should seek a more sophisticated reference text if they want to learn more about what makes Windows Me tick.
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