Microsoft has announced a gift for any Windows types wanting to do a little self-improvement: the release of the company's biggest ever collection of electronic books, all of which are available to download completely free of charge.
Although the individual books in the collection have been available previously for those who knew where to look, Microsoft's Eric Ligman has posted a collection to MSDN
which makes locating and downloading your topics of choice significantly easier. Impressively, the collection includes more than 300 titles - and every single one is available cost-free.
Ligman has chosen titles covering a range of Microsoft product-related topics, including a 139-page technical overview of Windows 8.1, guides to using the Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM) software, details on using PowerShell, and impressively detailed documents on the company's Azure cloud platform. Granted, other 'books' aren't quite so impressive: some are small quick-reference documents offering a list of keyboard shortcuts, while others are little more than sales sheets espousing the benefits of switching to Office 365 or Lync complete with friendly sans-serif fonts and big, simple graphics.
Still, with full copies of titles including Programming Windows 8 Apps, Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users, Developing Modern Mobile Web Apps, and Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals, there are gems to be found among the drek - and it's hard to argue with an asking price of 'free.'
The complete list of publications, with download links, can be found on MSDN