Windows 8.1 Review: Why, why, buy?!

Well, I did it. I updated my PC to Windows 8.1. A friend of mine upgraded his computer at the same time which was helpful as we could compare experiences. And so, without further ado, this is what we found…

Installation

About the only problem I had with the install was finding the actual install application. Instead of it being in the usual software updates utility, it is now in the store. Getting to the store requires Metro, which I don’t use. In any case, once I found it the installation went along easy enough. It took about 15 minutes on my old PC and no immediate issues showed up while installing. As for my friend’s install, he had no complaints either.

First Impressions

Aside from changing the Startup screen, the look of the Windows start button, and renaming “Computer” to “This Device”, Windows 8 generally looks the same. Operations are the same, you still need to gesture to make things happen and it still looks like it’s made for a tablet, not a desktop PC.

Security

Same. I see no improvements here. If you found Windows 8 secure enough then Windows 8.1 will meet your needs. Note, Microsoft still recommends you turn on SmartScreen. SmartScreen sends details of any application you launch to Microsoft to “ensure it is safe and compatible with Windows”. I still have not made up my mind how safe the process is of sending details to Microsoft.

Learn-ability

If you are already used to Windows 8 you have no difficulties since the upgrade doesn’t change much. Those upgrading from Windows 7 will face the same learning curve anyone who upgraded to Windows 8 last year faced (I gave Learn-ability a 6.5/10 in my first review of Windows 8).

Ease of Use

Windows 8 is built to be a touch operating system. If you don’t have a touch screen or Windows capable phone or tablet, there really is no reason to upgrade.

Networking

Again, networking hasn’t changed from Windows 8 – from an end user perspective anyway. To save myself at least some of the hassles I put a shortcut to the Control Panel on my desktop. I’ve save a few mouse clicks and swipes by doing so.

Compatibility

I haven’t found an app I used on Windows 8 that ran on Windows 8 that won’t run on Windows 8.1. No complaints there.

 

So much for my usual checklist of points. Now I wanted to note three not so great problems I’ve had with Windows 8.1. It should be noted that my friend, who installed Windows 8.1 alongside me, encountered none of these issues so this is purely subjective and it may be that I have had the misfortune of a bad install of Windows so take the information below with a grain of salt.

Windows Update

I installed Windows 8.1 on the first day it came out and to my surprise there were already 3 recommended updates and two optional ones – really!!?? I installed them, rebooted the PC and went in to check to make sure there weren’t any more updates waiting. Well, that’s when Windows Update locked up. Update wouldn’t close, I couldn’t stop it from Task Manager, and rebooting didn’t solve the problem, except, at least, to close the application. I tried again a couple of days later and it worked fine. Definitely something wrong here. Still investigating and looking for helpful information online.

Video Drivers

The video drivers that were installed were flaky. I’ve just installed a new set so I hope they will work better.

Backup Drives/Drivers

I have two external drives I use for backups. Windows 8.1 has been putting these drives to sleep. When I try to access them there is an I/O error and Windows reports the drives corrupted. I reboot the drives and they work fine. No driver problems reported. No information found online as of yet but the search continues.

So those are the three main reasons I am not particularly happy with Windows latest software upgrade. Windows hasn’t changed much from version 8 to 8.1. It’s kind of sad really, I was hoping for more. Further, if I cannot soon find a resolution to the above issues I will simply revert back to Windows 7.

In 1958 Ford gave us the Edsel. By 1960 they dropped the car as a bad idea. In the life of Microsoft they have given us no less than three Edsel equivalents – Windows Millennium Edition (ME), Windows Vista and now Windows 8/8.1. I’m not sure why Microsoft does this to their customers. In the case Windows 8.1, they certainly didn’t address the real issues users had complaints with. One thing is clear though, Windows 8 was Microsoft’s way acknowledging the declining sales of the desktop PC and shifting their direction toward the mobile market. But if they ignore the desktop market, perhaps it will be a chance for an alternate system like Unix or Linux to increase share.

Got a question or an idea for a topic you would like to see covered in one of my upcoming blogs? Write to support@skywaywest.com and let me know. I’ll do what I can to address your questions or concerns either personally in a reply email or on the blog. Until next month, take care.

–Wes


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *