This tutorial uses step-by-step approach to teach you very basics of 3D Studio MAX. There are two scenes that you will complete during tutorial. You will learn fundamentals of modeling, lighting, texturing and rendering. This knowledge can be used later with any 3D modeling and animation package available on the market, because all of them share the same basic features and principles - and as you remember this is tutorial about basics. Objects and settings done in the first scene will be used again in the subsequent scene so you'll get at the end pretty populated scene with lots of objects, tuned lighting, textures and some of more advanced effects.
We used 3D Studio MAX R3.1 in this tutorial. However you can benefit from this tutorial with both older and newer versions of MAX, because interface stays roughly the same from the very first version of MAX to the latest R4.26. Earlier versions of MAX lack some of the advanced features in the rendering department. If you have version that is older than R3.1 then skip these steps. R4.0 and later can be used freely, because new versions of MAX just bring new features.