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Chapter 4. Getting Help > Choosing the Right Help Resource

Choosing the Right Help Resource

The very idea of online help has changed dramatically in the years since Windows 95 debuted. Back then, online information meant a help file stored on the hard disk as part of the operating system. External sources of information were few and far between, especially in the first few months after a new Windows version hit the streets. Most mere mortals had no clue that Microsoft ran an FTP site filled with documents and downloads, and even if they knew about it, they had to jump through several significant hoops to use it. A few fledgling Web sites tackled Windows topics, but power users in 1995 were more likely to look for answers in computer magazines and visit CompuServe forums for peer-to-peer support.

At the dawn of the new millennium, all that has changed. Today, online help means exactly that: Anyone with a Web connection and basic search engine skills can find an abundance of information about installing, configuring, using, and troubleshooting Windows. The hardest part is shoveling through several terabytes of irrelevant data to find the one paragraph that explains how to solve the problem you're having right now.


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