Looking after your personal computer used to be easy. You just loaded the application you wanted to use from a floppy disk. With the advent of hard drives it became a little more cumbersome because you had directory structures to navigate but nothing that was hard to mentally model. From then on it has been all down hill. Managing
autoexec.batfiles was bad enough (many just used the defaults that came with their machines until the demands of some resource hungry application -- game -- forced them to investigate exactly what these files were doing.
Then we had MS Windows and its associated
system.sysand the problems began to accumulate. Disk resources began to evaporate with copies of trial software that the user did not dare remove because they did not know how to undo the installation process. Eventually software providers took sympathy and started providing uninstallers but even these often stop and ask you if you want to remove some arcanely named file that just possibly might be needed by something else.
The advent of 32-bit Windows systems introduced us to the registry that supposedly manages all the material such as drivers, applications etc. that were hitherto managed otherwise. The trouble is that your whole system relies on the registry so you better know what you are doing when you elect to manage it manually. In addition it has a lot of potential for controlling and constraining a system. For example what do you do if you want to limit users to those items to which you have provided shortcuts?
We now have a control centre (the registry) where much of the power is located. It is also the place where you can tackle some of the problems that occur. For example what do you do if your second hard drive falls over taking with it the uninstall routines for a major application? Or perhaps you still have access to the uninstall but that cannot cope with the missing disk where it wants to delete files. You get the picture.
Messing with this aspect of computers has always required more than average competence. Now it needs a wealth of factual knowledge because you better not set about learning by trial and error unless you have very large amount of spare time for repeatedly reinstalling your operating system.
The purpose of books like this one is to help the competent tackle problems that need work in the registry. It does a great job but please never leave a copy near an inquisitive dabbler. It would be like leaving a couple of sticks of dynamite in an inquisitive teenager's bedroom.
It strikes me that there is a new job available for anyone who is willing to study this aspect of computing. The Windows equivalent of a plumber. Of course, like the plumber you would greatly increase your fees for repairing the damage done by the over enthusiastic DIY expert.