Re: Microsoft Press.

Subject: Re: Microsoft Press.
From: Beryl Doane <BDoane -at- ENGPO -dot- MSMAILGW -dot- INTERMEC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 13:19:00 PDT

Dave Wood wrote:
This begs a question I have frequently asked - Why is it that
Microsoft gives us inadequate manuals (if any) with their
products, but there are plenty of "Getting the Most Out of ..."
titles available from (you guessed it) Microsoft Press.

Simple. The user guides, technical references, and so on are on a different
schedule, with different priorites. The User Education books have to meet
the ship date, have to document every feature (no matter how obscure,
complicated, or powerful), and have to aim at all users (lowest common

The MS Press books focus on just the really exciting, cool, beneficial
features while glossing over the pits and wrinkles. Press and third party
books don't have to meet the scheduled release date, don't have to bow (as
much) to internal politics at MS, don't have to fit the same rigid corporate
style, tone, and organizational guidelines, and don't have to document
everything while everything is changing.

Anyone can prepare a book proposal and submit it to MS Press (or at least, a
few years ago anyone could). Some TECHWR-Lers have written aftermarket books
(not me).

Aftermarket writers have a little more freedom to say "this might be a
strange method, but you really can do such and such." A staff writer has to
pretend that all functions and features are equally beautiful and useful.
Staff writers have to make global decisions and stick with them: teach mouse
or keyboard always, teach the menu way or the shortcut way always. An
aftermarket writer has a little more freedom to present the tasks as best
fits an individual task, without being seen as ruining the corporate image.

Beryl Doane, a recovering microsoftie
bdoane -at- intermec -dot- com

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