19 October 2013

Windows 8.1 Installation

Today I installed Windows 8.1. These are my impressions.

Where is it?

I'm an I.T. professional and well used to installing updates. I knew it had been published and that my system qualified for the update but I was expecting it to appear via Windows updates. How naive! Microsoft decided to make it a store app... forcing me once more into my Windows machine's schizophrenic 'tablet' mode as I call it. Don't misunderstand me: I quite like Windows 8, the clean lines and lack of clutter but I do find the different modes and the lack of synchronicity between the two (e.g. control panel items are different/lacking in metro) rather strange. Anyway it's in the store (start menu, type the word "store" in the search box).

Reboot... several times

The joy of Windows updates. I remember the Vista fiasco vividly (several GB of updates over the first few months of release) and it looks like Microsoft is following suit with this baby: a hefty 3.6 GB will have some people's domestic broadband limits straining. Anyway, once it does finish you get this:

Luckily for me I've taken to running Windows as a virtual machine on a Mac. That way when it needs to restart several times when installing updates or crashing I can continue to get on with my work! Not that Macs never need restarting but I just find the latter more reliable.

Wait for it...

Yep, so not only does it want to interrupt me, but also it's going to take an undisclosed amount of time to "Apply PC settings" whatever that banal phrase actually means. I don't understand why it doesn't say "Installing updates" as thats obviously the point of the whole exercise.

We're in!

The wait is over, we finally have it... how exciti... oh now I have to sign into a MS account now to use my local computer... how dull, and possibly inappropriate: do I really want my XBox profile linking to my work machine? Probably not.
I looked for the 'skip this step' button but didn't notice one...

In Conclusion

Having finally installed it I do like it: 
  • Start menu shortcut on the taskbar: I use a lot of machines via VNC, Logmein, Android and the "just swipe from the right" doesn't work on those, neither is there a Windows key to activate the start menu.
  • Improved search on Start menu is noticeable.
  • Seems faster, more snappy.

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