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  1. #1
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    What awaits in Windows 8.1 a Preview tour




    TOP STORY

    What awaits in Windows 8.1 — a Preview tour


    By Woody Leonhard

    Last week, Microsoft released the beta bits for the next version of Windows — the first .1 Windows update in decades.

    Win8 fans will surely update to Version 8.1 when it's released in the fall, but even old-school Windows users will find some surprisingly good enhancements.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/what-awaits-in-windows-8-1-a-preview-tour/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Tracey Capen; 2013-07-03 at 19:14.

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  3. #2
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    Windows 8.1Pro Preview is a BETA product with all this problems and risks that entails. A quick review of forums dedicated to this BETA product will show people that only advanced users who not only are thoroughly familiar with their system (and have it backed up - maybe doubly - and I mean image backups, not just full backups) and computers in general and have spent literally hours if not days reading the various forum threads (TechNet, Microsoft Community,...) and then verified their system will be compatible (the number of driver and software incompatibility problems is still gigantic) and removed incompatible software if upgrading (since some prove problematic to remove after the upgrade and can turn the upgrade into the need for a clean install or a restore to the backup).

    This is especially true with AV programs. Then there are issues if using a SSD that need special attention. Some systems use BIOS that cannot support the BETA and the time to know that is BEFORE and not during or after.

    And while it MIGHT work in a VM situation, it will fail there just as much as it would in normal mode if the proper drivers and software aren't compatible or available.

    And while dual booting sounds like a safer method to avoid many problems, it will not solve driver problems - and many software products people use only are allowed one installation license and so one cannot necessarily install their programs on the other OS without being in violation and/or facing Genuine and/or Activation problems.

    And dual booting (or VMs) where one wants to share data add further complications regarding permissions and possibly the need for clever partitioning. I'd also add that dual booting often creates boot problems which can usually be resolved, but much of that hasn't yet been fully tested with 8.1 involved (and typically helpful products for this aren't yet compatible) - so it could send you back to the drawing board.

    If/when you get past all the installation issues, then you'll discover a whole slew of additional bug and issues involving compatibility with many things. Some have been unable to play music or videos since installation. Some have keyboard and/or mouse issues. Some face black screens when they boot and no way to access the system repair features by any means.

    Some have immediate audio problems. If you need Windows Defender Offline for a rootkit infection - sorry, it isn't compatible yet. Some complain of constant beeping. Many are unable to download anything at all and some are operating without any AV protection because they're unable to turn on Windows Defender for some reason and nothing else will install. Some can download nothing from the Windows Store. Some have no internet access for various reasons.

    Some of these have workarounds, some have marginal workarounds, some are still open issues/bugs not yet fixed (with no idea if/when that will occur).

    In short, this is not quite ready for prime time and only the very brave, very foolish, or very skilled should be going near it right now.

    The final release is another matter, but nobody can properly predict to what extent all of this will be resolved by then (and with so much and a lot dependent on other vendors cooperating and not on Microsoft itself, that merely adds more to the puzzle). My clients have been advised to stay with W7 for the time being (not even the officially released W8 or W8Pro). Does anyone remember the first week Vista hit the streets? Well, triple that in spades.

    To be sure, there are fans out there who are happy campers - but the forums aren't seeing many of them. What they are seeing are droves of people with more complaints and problems than I've ever seen in any OS release going back to DOS - and fewer answers to major problems in reasonable timeframes (if at all). Not even the people most skilled at helping users have access to enough information and often must resort to educated guessing where the "best answer" this week is not the best answer next week - but the original threads are not fixed so people searching think that's the way it is since it was true a whole week earlier.

    That said, my own experiences have been ... well ... just fine (but I did the advance work and preparation as best as was known at the time and, probably more due to luck than skill, did not encounter many of the problems I see every day. On the other hand, I find that I'm using it only to help answer questions about it and simply cannot fathom using it as my primary computer OS at this time (it being any version above Windows 7 and most certainly this BETA product).

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  5. #3
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    I love this article! Woody said it better than me. Microsoft still doesn't 'get it' with Windows 8.1. That goofy not really a Start button is pretty much of a joke for Desktop users. Thank goodness for StarDock and a host of other tweaks.
    Martha

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Even Stardock and similar utilities can't fix all that's wrong with Windows 8.0. Windows 8.1 doesn't look like it's going to fix much either. *Sigh* Maybe it's time at long last to start getting serious about Windows alternatives. Especially on tablets.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    The "power user" "pseudo-start" menu shows that the geeks in Redmond still don't get it:
    Separate menu items for Command Prompt and Command Prompt (Admin) -- really? -- while the schlubs (a.k.a. "every last one of our freakin' users") have to mouse over to yet another menu to distinguish "restart" from "shut down". And this might be the most valuable Win8.1 enhancement of all.??? Face-palm, head-desk . . . and resolve to stick with XP for another year.

    It's no wonder that Mac OS-X keeps nibbling away at their market share.

  8. #6
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    Thanx Woody LeonHard,
    You did not mince any words in your findings about the Win8.1 Preview and I must agree with you 100%.
    I also agree with the first time poster W8.1Preview Tester!
    MicroSoft should have never used us as guinea pigs in this "Preview" release, as it was truly buggy to the max!
    This release was not even a "Beta" release and I was dumb enough to fall for it!
    Win8.1Preview gummied up my system so bad that if it was not for a month old Acronis TrueImage that I had on backup, I would still be cursing MicroSoft, up/down/left/right!
    And if this Win8.1Preview is any indication of what uS is going to peddle to me as an upgrade, I might as well retain a perfectly working (but hampered) Win8Pro in my system as is!
    I think I may await Win9 release but I am certain uS will figure out a way to force me to update to Win8.1 when released!
    That Win8.1Proview mucked up many of my hardware as well as much of my applications that are a few years old.
    AND you can't undo the damage and go back to Win8, if you install it!

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  10. #7
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    I blame Google for destroying the meaning of Beta. When did Gmail come out of beta, last week sometime?
    Microsoft is putting the Alpha back into Beta; I sit quietly in the corner like Buddha, 8.0 cured me from leaping into anything for quite some time.
    When Woody likes Windows (latest version) again (just like, not love) I'll give it a shot because we seem to be more or less simpatico on 8.

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Always in Beta described the original Yahoo, which had been doing Beta for perhaps longer than Google. It's a close contest to see who was really responsible for deprecating the term "beta" in this way.

    Either way, I agree that the practice of using the "dot-O" versions of MS Operating Systems as Public Beta Tests has rubbed off on many other software producers, and much to the detriment of consumer confidence. In Microsoft's case, allowing the public access to actual Beta Versions of Windows 8 may well have contributed to this version's very slow uptake and rejection by many consumers worldwide.

    But Beta Bugs are not what many others are complaining about in Windows 8. It's the jarring duality of the User Interface. That's not a bug, it's a feature set. Microsoft is also notorious for pioneering that concept.

    They will probably never learn, but we who populate this and other forums can always keep trying to talk some sense into Microsoft. It's probably worth the effort in the end.
    -- Bob Primak --

  12. #9
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    Ever since I updated to Windows 8 I missed the 'start button'.
    I have found and been using "POKKI", this gives me all I want, including the turn off facility

  13. #10
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    I have only seen screenshots of Windows 8, but I'm struck by how much it looks like Windows 3 and its panels full of icons, only with blockier, coloured bits.
    I know I'm hopelessly old-fashioned, but I already have a mobile phone that looks like a mobile phone- I would prefer my PC to look and function like a PC. Just not a Windows 3 PC :-)

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    I haven't tried "POKKI," but I have tried the open source Classic Shell. I agree; I could not use Windows 8 without one of these "Start Menu Restore" utilities.

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    I had been running 8.0 on a desktop with the "classic shell" installed.I was chomping at the bit to install8.1. Encountered quite a few of the bugs mentioned by W8.1Preview Tester, including a very buggy IE11 and my MS keyboard(lol) that wouldn't work properly. I did do a disk image just before updating. I restored that image in short order.

  16. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    As for coping with the Windows 8.0 user interface, I have made only minimal changes, mostly with regard to assigning icons to external drives and organizing and labeling the Modern Apps on the Modern Start Screen. I have learned to deal with the rest of the craziness the same way I learned to use the old Avast interface, which looked like a car radio from the 1950's. I am no stranger to weird GUIs!

    But for productivity, especially on tasks for which there are no efficient Modern Apps yet (I do NOT include Office 2013 as a series of efficient Apps when presented in the Modern UI!) I just can't fathom what Microsoft was thinking when they put this stuff together in Windows 8.0. Maybe using it all on a tablet would make things clear, but I am not made of money. It would be a very expensive experiment.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    I don't know if any of you readers have tried iObit's free Advanced System Care 6.3, it has a pretty good way to get the Start Menu button in Window 8.1 to work like it does in Windows 7, just by using the Start Menu 8 program that's located in ASC's Action Center.

  18. #15
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    Thank goodness there is some sanity as far as the reception of the "non-update" of windows 8 called 8.1. Why is adding the standard Win 7 Start button and All programs back the "almost looking" desktop such a big deal AND how can all these writers one reads on the internet think experienced users and people that fix computers won't miss it. I just can't believe it. To me it is the biggest boneheaded thing MS has done since Millenium Edition as is right in there with User Account Control. Thank you Woody for a voice of reason!! keep it up!!! Tom

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