Microsoft has issued a free user guide for Windows 8, offering to help users “learn how to get around, navigate, manage apps, and personalize” the controversial new OS. Does the existence of such a document prove that Windows 8 is inscrutable? Or is this just the right thing to do?

You can download the Windows 8 End User Training Brochure from the Microsoft Download Center.

So.

I’ve obviously spent a lot of the past year looking into new ways of publishing books (or at least “book-like content), and I’ve spent the past 20 years writing about Microsoft and its products, in books (over 25 of them), print publications and on the web. So I was curious to see how the mothership would handle such a publication, given that their documentation over the years has been largely non-existent or, when available, lackluster. I reference to the silly and pointless intro video in Windows, which supposedly tells you all you need to know to get started, as the most recent and most terrible example.

This book—sorry, “brochure”—isn’t horrible. And while it takes a decidedly Metro-centric view to your computing experience, let’s be fair. That’s the part that people seem to need the most help with in Windows 8.

I am amused to see that Microsoft has backed off from calling the desktop an app, finally, though I find the new nomenclature—“you can move around your spaces” now—to be as strange.

Overall, it’s pretty clear that this handy little document should come with every copy of Windows 8 and every new PC. I wonder if there’s a way to get this into the product, with a tile you could tap to see it?

UPDATE: With all the comments noting that Microsoft should have released this guide at launch, it should be noted that Microsoft did in fact offer a document like this at launch: Windows 8 and Windows RT Product Guide. Thanks to Daniel R. for the tip.