|Windows 8.1 Preview Arrives|
|We previously announced that Windows 8.1 will be a free update for Windows 8 consumers later this year through the Windows Store - but today we are providing an opportunity for people to take a first-hand look at many of the new features and improvements with the Windows 8.1 Preview.Windows 8.1 Preview Arrives [blogs.windows.com] |
|Before you install the Windows 8.1 Preview, it is also highly recommended you backup any files you have on your PC or tablet first. Please see the Windows 8.1 Preview FAQ beforeinstalling, which includes information on how to go back to Windows 8 if you need to. There are certain cases in which you will not be able to go back to Windows 8 after installing the Windows 8.1 Preview so please read the FAQ before proceeding. |
Microsoft Explains Windows 8.1 Upgrade Procedure [webmasterworld.com]
Windows 8.1 - Now fudging the Start Button [webmasterworld.com]
Is Microsoft About to Relent and Bring Back The Start Button and Boot To Desktop [webmasterworld.com]
Just when I migrated to Windows 8 last Friday, seamlessly at first, a few hiccups later when trying to integrate Windows Media Centre on Monday.
Not the 90 degree learning curve I had first feared.
Now more to digest?
Remember: This is a Preview
This should only be installed by people who want to test the system. At the end of the Preview you'll have to re-install all of your software.
I would not recommend this for your primary machine(s).
I suspect, however, that for many people it will be relief from indigestion.
Especially if they no longer have to download third-party software to go straight to the Desktop and select the Programs they want from the Start menu.
It may be the only thing they file under "new features and improvements".
There are lots of little issues Win 8 but the bulk of the problems I encounter are because of the duality of the UI with Tiles and Desktop not playing well with each other. MS could easily solve much of this but it's obvious they want to go head first into the mobile interface at the expense of the legacy desktop and as a result, much of this ill conceived bi-polar UI is maddening to use. Being forced to use it is the type of thing that made postal workers 'go postal' in the first place.
APP PORTABILITY AND DATA PROTECTION
The fact that Win 8.1 highly recommends backing up everything before installing it means that the nitwits at MS still haven't addressed the problem we've had since Win 1.x which is reinstalling and upgrading often means clean slate for the whole machine with is ridiculous.
There are things MS installs and things users install and this problem is all rooted primarily in 2 issues:
* The Registry
* Shared DLLs
While they've made great strides in user profiles and user portability and can separate everything by who's using the machine, they've done NOTHING to address software portability.
This is not rocket science and putting the OS on drive C: as "Windows_Partition" and all the user stuff on drive D: as "User_Data_Partition" should be child's play, it should be done by default, yet it isn't. While we're here, since disk space is abundant and cheap as hell, I'd prefer the option for each user to actually get their own physical encrypted and protected partition instead of a folder under (L)"Users" which leaves your data vulnerable to access by others or wiped out entirely doing a windows update while the partition could be completely locked down and off limits as accessing it for a Windows update would not be required.
Think about it, wipe drive C:'s Windows partition at will and all your data would be safe without backup and restore, no worries, no fuss, just install it. FWIW, that's how I used to install my servers when I ran a hosting ship as Linux on HDD 1, customer data on HDD 2 and any time it had a serious crash or got hacked, hardware fault or whatever, the HDD 1 Linux drive was swapped with a new one OR the HDD 2 customer drive was moved to a new machine and back up in 15 minutes either way. That's how it should be done, but I digress.
I've written 'portable' self-contained Windows programs and so have many others so it's quite doable yet it isn't standardized and users are left backing up and restoring every time something happens to the OS like a bunch of trained monkeys.
There are ways to handle shared DLLs without overwriting and overlapping by keeping a local copy of what the individual program needs instead of polluting the common core, often a cause of malfunctioning apps, and a smart DLL loader can sort it out at run-time. Simple solution and now you get a portable app too, win-win.
If I were selling Windows software I'd promote that my software was 'portable' and could survive upgrades as a selling point.
As a new victim, er user, of Win 8 all I can say is the Store is some major league suckage compared to Google Play and from what I can see without actual hands on 8.1 does not appear to address all this suckage. From the get-go you can't search for just anything from the initial window unless I'm missing something and if I am, it's not designed well. Worse yet, there's no simple list of store categories easily accessible without scroll scroll scrolling. Blows. I'm a big mobile and desktop user and I'm telling you it blows from both directions vs. Google Play.
If the things I'm looking for are in pull-outs without any visual clues, then it's setill sucky because I want to use the OS, not play where's Waldo with the damn thing.
TILES ON DESKTOP
Tiles are kind of like Gadgets from Win 7/Vista and the fact that I can't put tiles on the desktop is silly. I'd love to have a sidebar with tiles but it's not allowed for idiotic reasons as it's a WINDOW you morons at MS should be spanked.
MOUSE GESTURES AND KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS
There are some places in the use of tiles and other aspects of Win 8 where it's obviously designed for a touch screen and it really lacking in good mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts unless they exist and I missed the memo as scrollbars and arrow keys aren't cutting through this Tiled mess.
WINDOWS START MENU
I've tried it the new way and I must say when I'm in the desktop the start screen tile thingy doesn't really bother me much as it goes away never to be seen again after boot. However, I still forget and hit the Windows button and get the tiled abomination instead. Ugh.
Would it kill them to just make it an option for desktop users to use it Win 7 mode or Win 8 mode? Or even make it CTRL+WINDOW to get the old Stat menu?
With 2 screens I find it next to impossible to bring up that idiotically named Charms menu on screen 1, not even sure if it's supposed to work that way on dual screens but it does every now and then. Anyway, off to the far side of screen 2, Charms menu shows up and when I click the search and the menu of programs shows up my dockef magnifier vanishes, everything reformats on screen 1, the magnifier LENS now appears over the search stuff, and likewise when I close it everything goes back, DOCKed magnifier on top, screen 1 reformats again, total visual chaos and confusion.
Accessibility? For who, people that want to go insane engulfed in idiotic screen popping chaos because of the stupid rules that make the new UI behave different from the desktop?
Integrate it before someone with bad eyes loses it and hurts someone because this magnified insanity didn't happen in Win 7 and someone should be tossed in jail for this because it really is criminal what it's going to site impaired people trying to use a damn computer.
Got ahead of the topic...
Last but not least, the guy with cataracts needs the Magnifier and it's totally screwy in Win 8. If you're on the desktop you can DOCK it, I like a big magnifier docked on the top of my portrait mode monitor, but the minute an actual Win 8 app shows up on either screen docking is no longer allowed and it switches to LENS or FULL SCREEN mode and the whole thing makes me dizzy. It gets uglier but that's the basics. The programmers writing and testing Win 8, probably no testers based on stuff I'm running into, don't check simple real world situations like monitors in portrait mode don't get the LENS magnifier to alter it's orientation for the user and it's still in landscape mode. Sure you can customize the LENS but when you flip the monitor back to landscape it's messed up again, back and forth. Why this baffles me is tablets flip orientation all the time so this feature must not be used much on tablets or it behaves differently on desktops, dunno but it's damned annoying.
FWIW, I also tried Narrator but thanks to the lazy nincompoops at Firefox they haven't finished implementing UIA or whatever it's called so while it can read the title and tabs, the content might as well be carved into the side of an Egyptian pyramid in undecipherable hieroglyphics because Narrator can't read the page. The whole thing is idiotic if the FF page accepts messages to get selected text then Narrator could read anything selected but they're all a bunch of API snobs so the visually impaired suffer with a second rate browser because their primary choice isn't compliant with some MS nonsense when MS could read it anyway. Jerks. But I digress.
I could go on and on but there isn't enough hours in the day and MS won't do anything about it anyway.
On the whole, and to be fair, my six day old experience of Win 8 on my new all singing, all dancing, custom built PC was an absolute dream.
YES Despite what I had read elsewhere a number of times, you can get a complete clean, new install, with the 64-bit upgrade disk.
I was long overdue for a win [no pun] somewhere.
Oh! And to demolish another urban legend, one which had me worried, EVERYONE of my old pieces of software work seamlessly.
No money spent on upgrades. Cost of Win 8 to me? $A54.00 + $2.00 delivery next day and I still have:
Plus? Online I got Windows Media Center for $A9.99 with about a gazillion dollars of heavy duty Microsoft support to integrate it. Don't ask, but it took them about five hours, four different people and remote. I was really impressed with the support.
I'm over the moon! Even if the two Bill's addicted me to bold.
|The fact that Win 8.1 highly recommends backing up everything before installing it means that the nitwits at MS still haven't addressed the problem we've had since Win 1.x which is reinstalling and upgrading often means clean slate for the whole machine with is ridiculous. |
This is still a Preview version of Windows 8.1, so I'd cut them a little slack there. Once the actual consumer version come out I'd expect them to have that issue addressed.
|As a new victim, er user, of Win 8 all I can say is the Store is some major league suckage compared to Google Play and from what I can see without actual hands on 8.1 does not appear to address all this suckage. |
No arguments from me about this one. The Store does indeed suck. There's no better description. We can only hope that they'll work on this.
But, I think I've mentioned before...there's no real need to use the Store at all. I played with it a bit in the beginning. I realized that the Metro Apps that they're selling in there are useless for the Desktop, and I simply stopped using it. If you're using Windows 8 on a desktop, simply ignore it.
Windows Key + C
This is still a Preview version of Windows 8.1, so I'd cut them a little slack there.
I've been programming Windows since 2.x and when I was in a position at Lotus to actually get their attention in Win 3.x and ME and 95 still couldn't get them to address portability/installation issues wiping data. I think I've cut them more than enough slack as apparently Windows has been in "preview" mode for about 30 years and some of the issues we complained about since the beginning still exist.
DISCLOSURE: I was always a big Windows supporter/developer and some of my work still exists in some things you use today. I've dug through and debugged it's core back in the day to figure out how to do things Office did that other stuff couldn't and how to fix things they wouldn't. Been there. Done that. Done with that.
As to your issue with upgrading, I'll certainly agree with you that past versions of Windows had problems with upgrades between versions. I always recommended that with a new version of Windows it was best to start from scratch and do a clean install. Windows 8 was the first version of Windows that I had to upgrade from a previous version. I was hoping that they were improving on this front.
I don't know why, but there must be a lot of people who run beta code like this that expect everything to work like production code.
I'm thinking 8.1 is like a Service Pack. I never had to do a clean install for a Service Pack. But I never put a beta/preview Service Pack on anything but a virtual machine.
I used to write bleeding edge Windows software and had to install stuff long before it was even worthy of being a 'preview' which is why reinstalling all apps was crazy. Re=installing the OS makes sense, cool, but it's all intertwined because of that stupid registry and the shared DLL nonsense.
Having a split OS and data partition cleanly solves the problem.
FYI, some apps are portable and I already keep them on a removable USB drive. When I just upgraded my new computer I dropped in this drive and just made shortcuts to several of my key apps and they run as-is where they exist on that drive just fine.
However, anything MS sells is a problem as well as many other major vendors that drink the MS registry and shared DLL kool-aide.
Sorry, but not being able to refresh or reinstall the OS without a full backup and restore is just silly and the fact that I have a bunch of stand alone programs on a stand alone drive that can simply be turned on and off separately from the OS pretty much proves my point. No backup. Just flip the OFF switch on the drive before installing the OS and it can't even see them. No see, no problem. :)
Funny, when people complained about not being able to install apps on the SD card in Android Google addressed the problem and now data can be kept separate from the internal phone storage so you don't lose it.
If Google can fix it...