How to spend your first hour with Windows 8.1

Woody Leonhard

Windows 8.1, currently available on MS TechNet and MSDN, should roll out on Oct. 17 for both new PCs and Win8 upgrades.

Here’s what every knowledgeable Windows user should know about setting up Win8.1, whether they’re coming from Windows 8, Win7, Vista, or XP.

For anyone already using Windows 8, upgrading to Version 8.1 is a no-brainer. It’s commonly said that Win8.1 is the Windows Microsoft should’ve released last year. And there’s a lot of truth to that observation.

On the other hand, if you’re still on Windows 7 and need a compelling reason to upgrade, there’s nothing new in Windows 8.1 (in my opinion) that justifies the considerable effort required to switch. That said, you still might find yourself staring at a Windows 8.1 screen, if you or someone you know buys new hardware or upgrades. Fortunately, there’s plenty that’s familiar in Windows 8.1 — trust me.

To make your initial Windows 8 experience as pain-free as possible, here’s how you should spend your first hour with the new OS — how to get comfortable with the beast and change it to be more (for lack of a better term) user-friendly. I mean that in a productive Windows-desktop sense, not a mobile-phone sense.

Make sure you have the right operating system

Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 might look the same from the Start screen, but they’re not the same thing — not by a long shot. The Win8.1 is “real” Windows; Windows RT 8.1 is an OS that has just the Metro half of Windows. You might find either one on a tablet or hybrid laptop/tablet computer, and it’s not always easy to tell them apart.

For example, Microsoft’s Surface RT and Surface 2 both run Windows RT. Neither runs standard Windows applications. On the other hand, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 run full Windows; they’re compatible with almost any app that runs on a traditional Windows desktop PC.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2013-10-03:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.