Windows 98 Professional References

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Title: Windows 98 Unleashed Professional Reference Edition. Author: Paul McFedries Publisher: SAMS Publishing. Publication Date: 1998. Pages: 1440. Price: $54.99.

Title: Windows 98 Professional Reference. Author: Bruce Hallberg & Joe Casad. Publisher: New Riders. Publication Date: 1998. Pages: 980. Price: $49.99.

Type of Book

Two professional and comprehensive books on Windows 98.

User Level

Intermediate to Advanced users with knowledge of basic computer concepts such as files and folders; familiarity with Windows skills such as dialog box negotiation and pull-down menu jockeying; and comfortable with toolbars, scroll bars, and windows.


In this first publication of PC Cafe and book reviews, I will include a general description of the series, if any, a book is published under. Some users like a hands-on approach to learning a program. They install it, with minimal reading or instruction, and then play, again with minimal reading or instruction. I, being a reader, find a book to use as a guide. Many books belong to a collection, such as the Unleashed series and Classroom in a Book series. With some series, all or most books, whether covering graphics, operating systems, or utilities will have the same look and feel. I, then, become familiar with and develop a preference for one series rather than another. And when buying a book for a new subject, I will look to that series first. Also, some series are targeted to specific level users and it is helpful to know what level they target. Therefore, I feel it is important to indicate what series a book belongs to and the target user for that series. No comment will be made if the book is not part of a series.


It seemed like yesterday that Microsoft launched Windows 95, and users had to buy the assorted tomes on how to maneuver through the highways and byways of the latest operating system. Just when we thought we had a handle on the product, Microsoft introduced a 98 version. Windows 98 has no shortage of new trinkets and baubles for you to discover, such as Web integration, new and improved Internet utilities, support for the latest three-letter hardware gadgets–MMX, AGP, USB, and DVD, and a collection of system tools. Yet it still carries Windows 95 baggage–takes forever to load, hobbled by some 16-bit code, and general protection faults. Also some useful Windows 95 tools–such as Microsoft Fax–have been dropped.

The two new books, Windows 98 Unleashed Professional Reference Edition, by Paul McFedries, and Windows 98 Professional Reference, by Bruce A. Hallberg and Joe Casad, would be valuable to users upgrading from Windows 95 or earlier, or to first timers.

The McFedries book, Windows 98, is part of the SAMS Unleashed Series, which contain in-depth coverage by experts for the intermediate-Advanced user who is already familiar with the basics of a given product. Cross-referenced indexes and reference-oriented chapters help users locate topics and answers. In the words of the author, his goal is to "cover the good, the bad, and the ugly of Windows 98." The book is well-thought out and organized with the following features:

Steps: Step-by-step procedures for various subjects.

  • New Windows 98 features icon: Programs and files that are new in Windows 98 are marked with the New to 98 icon.
  • Note Box: The Note box presents more information about the current topic to provide the reader with extra insights for a better understanding of the task. They can refer you to other sections of the book for more information.
  • Troubleshooting Box: Troubleshooting boxes point out common Windows 98 problems and tell you how to solve them.
  • Chapter Marker: Right-sided pages have a chapter title and number on right edge.

The user friendly features--New to 98 icon, well-marked and displayed boxes, and chapter markers make the book very informative, readable; maneuverable, and enjoyable. A small but important feature is that it has a hard cover, which means in practical terms that it stays open when you want it to without having to use a paper weight to hold down the left sided pages so the book stays open at the page you want.

The Hallberg/Casad book, Windows 98, is part of New Riders Professional Series which is aimed at the computer professional, sort of the chat book for experts to discuss topics pertinent to other experts or want-a-bes. There is no padding or fluff. The target audience is professionals: who act in a hands-on role with a program; who want to implement solutions, fix problems, and maintain a computing infrastructure; who want to solve technical problems quickly and efficiently.

This book would be useful to network and non-network users. The authors state that the book was written for administrators of large and small networks, and they discusses the various scenarios; with material to help you decide to network or not, and if you do, what type of network components you'll want to include. The book basically contains the same information as the other, but with less step-by-step instruction and more data for networking users. It has a no-nonsense, no hand holding approach for the advanced user who just "wants the information Mam."

Both books cover some of the following information:

  • How to automate tasks using Windows Scripting Host and batch file programming.
  • Securing your files and messages using Digital Ids ad encryption.
  • An in-depth look at the inner workings of Windows 98, its architecture and file systems.
  • How to use Batch 98 to create scripts for automated installations.
  • Controlling Windows 98 startup.
  • Mastering Web integration and the Active Desktop.
  • Customizing the Taskbar, Start menu, and display.
  • Optimizing memory and disk access.
  • Using the Device Manager and hardware profiles.
  • Learning the Windows 98 Registry.
  • Controlling the Windows 98 system tools.
  • Sharing data in Windows 98
  • Unleashing the DOS Shell.
  • Mastering DirectX and Windows 98 Audio and Video.

Both books are comprehensive Windows 98 books. The Unleashed has more step-by-step procedures, but the Windows 98 Professional is concise and detailed with no extra fillers. Either one would be a good bet for Windows 98 intermediate or advanced users.