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Introduction

Introduction

Do you long for the good-old days when you could pop the hood of your car and recognize what was underneath? When you could take a wrench and fix just about anything yourself? Cars aren't like that anymore—they've gotten so complex and intimidating that it's hard to imagine digging into one now.

You might feel the same way about Windows. Windows has grown into a huge operating system with thousands of complex parts masked behind a slick but seemingly impenetrable graphical user interface.

This book is an attempt to reclaim those days when we could dig into our machines with confidence and satisfaction. Windows XP comes with powerful tools and interfaces that let you take control of every detail, if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and dig in.

Whether you're a Windows system administrator or a “power user” who's always on the lookout for more effective ways to use your computer, you're probably familiar with batch files, scripts, and command-line programs. Although they might seem unglamorous, they've been around longer than the PC itself, and sooner or later everyone who uses a computer for serious work runs into them. They may seem like something out of the past, but they've continued to evolve along with Windows. The automation tools provided with Windows XP and 2000 are incredibly powerful and useful.

For most people, though, they remain mysterious and are seldom used. I wrote this book to help dispel the mystery. I had three aims in mind:

  • To teach how to use the batch file and scripting languages provided with Windows XP and Windows 2000

  • To show how to use command-line utilities and scripting objects as everyday tools

  • To provide an introduction to and reference for the hundreds of command-line programs and scripting objects provided with Windows

While several books on the market are devoted to Windows Script Host, Windows automation tools, and Windows utilities, this is the only book I know of to combine all three in one volume.

By the way, if you use Windows 2000, most of the material in this book will work for you as well. I'll point out differences between Windows 2000 and Windows XP when I can.

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