Category Archives: Microsoft

18 Oct

The Windows 8.1 Upgrade Experience

Against my better judgment, I decided to take the plunge yesterday and take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade from Windows 8.0 to 8.1. I had been perfectly satisfied with Windows 8 on my system, but, keenly aware of Microsoft’s intense desire to shove their most recent offering down your throat until you finally cave in, I opted to take my medicine now rather than later.

Upon clicking the icon in the Windows Store, however, the message told me that I had to be logged in as an administrator. I had instead expected to have a box pop up prompting me for an administrative password, just as I normally get when installing an application. This feature was one of the major benefits of post-XP Windows versions, where you did not have to physically log in as an administrator to perform administrative tasks.

Strike one.

After switching to an administrative account, I began the upgrade procedure. Once the download started, I got a cheerful message telling me that I could continue with other work, so I did. Unfortunately, a couple of hours later, as the upgrade process was “gathering info,” the Windows Store app crashed.

Strike two.

To my relief, after restarting the upgrade, it resumed where it left off and continued to “gather info” for another couple of hours. So much for this “minor” upgrade. It took much less time to upgrade from Windows 7 to 8 on this same system.

Following a handful of reboots, the upgrade eventually finished. Then the real adventure began.

Microsoft now wants you to link your local account with a Microsoft account, ie. Hotmail, Outlook. I kept saying no, but the nag screens kept popping up each time I opened an app. Only after clicking the “Sign in to each app individually” link in small print at the bottom of the screen was I finally rid of this nuisance.

Invariably, there’s always a handful of updates after a major release, so I bit the bullet and ran Windows Update. Surprisingly, there were only five, but the second of the two, a Visual Studio update, hung. I eventually stopped the installation, but even after trying to reboot, it kept trying to install the update. I finally had to power off to stop it.

Upon restarting my system, I checked to make sure my USB devices worked, and they did, including my HP scanner. Unfortunately, each time I plugged in a device, there was the annoying wait while the system was “installing files.” I had already used these devices under Windows 8 and given that this was an upgrade, I thought that this was unnecessary. When using the scanner, the “installing files” box actually hung and I had to close it, but the scanner still worked. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that it still does.

Interestingly, despite all the warning messages in Windows 8 that Office 2003 is not supported and won’t work, it continued to work flawlessly in Windows 8.1.

There are some new apps available for Windows 8.1 users in the Windows Store, including one package curiously called “Essential Apps.” Among the apps was CBC News.

I have never felt that left-wing propaganda was “essential.” Judging from the results of the last federal election, most Canadians feel the same way, in spite of the CBC’s attempts to brainwash Canadian voters.

Perhaps, in future, Microsoft could consider something more politically neutral, such as Al-Jazeera or the North Korean news agency.

Thus far, I haven’t seen much of a benefit from Windows 8.1. I hope that there’s some increased stability and security that will make the “upgrade” worthwhile.