The Realm of the Verbal Processor

Jarvis's Ramblings

Windows 8.1–Initial Impressions

This is a follow on to my “No-Windows 8 Does Not Suck” post that I finally got around to posting.

Last week I loaded the RTM of Windows 8.1 on my production laptop…and yes I did it legally. Kind of a long story behind why that is the case. The short story is that the company I work for is a Microsoft Partner…they are both a Large Account Reseller (LAR) and a System Integrator (SI). I think there are only eleven companies in the world that are both. Net result of that is that for last year or so, the LAR+SI companies have had to do licensing for Windows a bit differently…essentially we were told to use MSDN keys for our production systems that were moving to Windows 8. Odd…but okay…MS told us to.

Now…on to the impressions of Windows 8.1…

I did the upgrade on my laptop last week without any issues. I didn’t time it (kicked it off and went to put my son to bed), but I think it finished in less than an hour. I did notice a few small things after it was done. Below is my list of observations…would love to hear of any new/cool things that you discover as well.

  1. All of the websites that I had told IE to remember my passwords for…no longer have the passwords saved. But…since the update included IE11 that kinda makes sense.
  2. I had to reinstall the Cisco AnyConnect VPN. I chose the “Repair” option and it seemed to work.
  3. My laptop monitor was seen as a “Generic PnP Monitor”, so the screen didn’t look very good initially. Had to go into advanced settings and update driver for the Monitor. See screenshots…SNAGHTMLa4e598a
  4. One observation that I still haven’t nailed down…everything on my laptop screen seems bigger now. I’ve checked the resolution and it is set correctly…but everything seems just slightly bigger. Outlook in particular seems like it is zoomed in. It actually makes it easier to read, but it is definitely different than before.
  5. Another odd one is on one specific web page…MSN.com. In the past there were navigation arrows that appeared on the picture on the page that rotated every five or so seconds. The nav arrows let you go forward or backwards. Now the arrows appear for a few seconds when the page first loads but then disappear and they don’t come back. It’s actually pretty annoying because if you see something that you are interested in you have to wait until it rotates back around in order to click on it. Update: This has since been fixed.
  6. Java had to be reinstalled.
  7. There are new start screen customization options that are pretty nice. Multiple size tiles (small, med, wide, large). More obvious way of naming application groups.
  8. There is a new “Help+Tips” app…very good for users who are new to Windows 8. Something that honestly should have been there from the beginning.
  9. A new “Reading List” app. Enables you to push a web page that you want to read later to a common area for delayed consumption. Haven’t used it yet, but it looks promising. Only works with the “modern” app version of IE though. Won’t use it on my non-touch laptop…but will on my Surface when the update becomes available.
  10. Photos app has new editing functions that look very promising.
  11. “Modern” apps have new size options. Can run up to four of them on one screen at a time. I haven’t used those apps much on my laptop…but could see doing that now that I can have multiple on a screen.
  12. Right clicking the new Start button gives the option to shut down or sign out.
  13. There is a start button (which takes you to the Start Screen), and the Start Screen can be customized by an enterprise to give a specific configuration for your users before you deploy it to them. I personally don’t care about the start button…but I see it being needed to block enterprise deployments because of training fears.
  14. I saw issues with both yahoo.com and when I tried to start a WebEx meeting. The WebEx meeting webpage gave a message that “Java is not working”. Yahoo.com had an issue where the rotating graphics of the “top” stories…the ones that load five at a time. The first five would load fine. When it went to 6-10, the stories would be simply blank white space instead of the pictures of the stories. The source code on the page indicates that it is all Javascript. The answer to both of these it to put both webex.com and yahoo.com in the “Compatibility View” settings in IE.

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Overall…very nice and stable update to an already very good OS.

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September 26, 2013 Posted by | Windows 8 | 4 Comments

No–Windows 8 Does Not Suck

This is a post that has been in the back of my mind for a while that I’m finally getting around to writing. Portions of this come to mind when I hear people complain about certain aspects of Windows 8…or when I hear users of other platforms making fun of it (likely without actually using it themselves)…or when someone asks me for an honest opinion since they know that I use it…or when I find something in the OS that I think is excellent and wish others knew. So…in no particular order…here are some thoughts on Windows 8…

Yes it is different. So. What. Some people will tell you that MS doesn’t innovate. When they do, other people scream that it’s too much. Figure out what you want people. If it stayed the same we’d all be looking at an ugly Windows 3.1 box. Yuck.

It is easy to use. My four year old son has ZERO issues navigating my Surface. Neither do my daughters. Seriously…give it half a chance…it’s not hard people. Both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law breeze through it. For both of them I spent maybe fifteen minutes showing them the basics. With that said…Microsoft could have done more on initial release for introducing users to the basics. This has been resolved to a great degree with the new “Help+Tips” app in Windows 8.1.

There is no start button or start menu. So. What. In Windows 7 I look for a tiny thing in the bottom left corner to click that brings up a menu, then I look in that menu for another small section to click, then in that menu for another small thing to click, etc. And God forbid that I accidentally move my mouse outside of the menu when I’m looking for that tiny thing to click…then I have to start over again. Now in Windows 8…I look for the big freaking tile on my Start Screen and click it. Oh and I can customize the screen to have what I want on it. Oh and the tiles are more than just an icon…they update with live info. And seriously…how many of you have used the Desktop as a place to shove shortcuts to every app that you want to open so you can double click them? You’ve given yourself a “Start Screen” already…it’s just not very pretty and has very few customization options. Now you can have all of those shortcuts on your Start Screen…and you can actually see the pretty picture of your kids that you use as your desktop background…instead of little Suzie having an icon shoved up her nose!

Now…although my opinion is that the Start button is not truly needed…I do understand the opposition that Enterprises have had up til now with the fear of training thousands of users. I think those issues have been addressed fairly well in 8.1…there is a start button (which takes you to the Start Screen), and the Start Screen can be customized by an enterprise to give a specific configuration for your users before you deploy it to them.

Hyper-V in Windows 8! Prior to Win8 I was dual booting Win7 and Server 2008 R2 in order to run VMs in Hyper-V for my lab environment. After loading Windows 8, I never booted the server partition on my laptop again…and the VMs I had in 2008 R2 pulled right over with no issues.

Speed in general is better. Boot time is awesome. Love UEFI.

Sync between devices rocks! My Windows 8 laptop (non-touchscreen btw) and my Surface RT are both tied to my Live ID. When I initially set up the Surface, it took me a few seconds to realize what happened. My wallpaper was the same automatically. My home network (with security) had synced up already. My home PRINTER was already set up!

Some of the “Modern” apps. I don’t use a ton of them on my non-touchscreen laptop. I use more on my Surface. The Kindle app is excellent…and it syncs the last read place in a book, so if I read on both my laptop and the Surface…it knows where I left off.

Overall…I have been very happy with Windows 8. I know of a few people that I generally have respect for their opinions on IT matters who were vocal about hating it and switched back. Wonder if they are the same ones who cursed Windows XP when it came out? I think a lot of folks have forgotten the complaints when XP was released. :)

September 26, 2013 Posted by | Windows 8 | 3 Comments