Now that all the hullabaloo has died down over the update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 I thought it time to weigh in on my overall impressions and a couple of specifics.
As you know Windows 8.1 is the first major update of the OS and ground breaking at that for those with Windows 8; you simply open the Windows Store and run the update from there.
The install was seamless and I optimized the download speed by running it hardwired to the router and not over WiFi.
Windows 8.1 gave us The Return of A Start Button, integrated search from the Search charm and a slew of improvements to include several Apps.
Was it Worth It?
In a nutshell… yes. As good as Windows 8 was, the UX is improved and performance seems to be too. Windows 8.1 is even better.
For all of you who enjoy the recurring jokes and memes about Internet Explorer online I have this to say,
Internet Explorer 11 is not your Dad’s IE.
This is a geometric improvement that leaves its competitors in the dust. It provided a robust browsing experience (mostly) coupled with speed that makes browsing the pleasure it should be. IE11 doesn’t seem to have the thirst for CPU / RAM that some if it’s greedy competitors do, nor does there seem to be the necessity for update du jour (you know who I mean).
The only two web applications I have seen issue with are Tweetdeck for the Web which occasionally needs recovery when returning to the App from another tab and the great social music App Serendip where a scripting bug prevents music videos from playing but only in one’s own music library. Obviously, I reported the bug on discovery and got a nice response from the team at Serendip.
IE11 is also available for Windows 7 (different language and 32/64 bit versions can be found here) and I give it a strong recommend.
Bugs Or Features? Workarounds Too.
- After installing Windows 8.1 I was pleased (yes pleased) to discover the onboard WiFi card was not supported. This forced me to choose between waiting for a driver update (who knew when) or upgrading to a faster WiFi USB dongle. Obviously I opted for the latter and received a smoother, faster wireless internet connection in the process. Since then the issue has been resolved but I’m too happy with the Edimax USB dongle to test the fix.
- Those who have used the Metro / New Windows UI Apps in Windows 8 will be familiar with minimize > right-click > close to exit the App. In Windows 8.1 the App does not close until you go to the Task Manager and terminate the App from there. These Apps do not have a noticeable footprint or performance impact but nonetheless this is a bug that needs fixing.
- The User Libraries (Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Downloads etc.) have an interesting bug; any folder containing media generates a Thumbs.db system file and by default these Libraries seem to be set to Read Only. The user cannot delete these folders but can delete their content, leaving a mess of empty folders.
There are several workarounds for this bug: -
- Select the folders from the Library and cut them (CTRL-X) then paste them (CTRL-V) in a non-Library folder e.g. C:/Temp. You can select and delete the folders from there and will receive the same warning about the folder containing Thumbs.db. In a non-Library folder you can select the checkbox in this dialog “Do this for all current items” and it will delete as expected.
- Using a ZIP tool like WinRAR select the empty folders in the Library and select the option to delete all folders after compression. Once they are save to the ZIP file they are successfully deleted and you can easily delete the ZIP file; goodbye empty folders.
- Unlocker is a neat app that allows you to select files or folders that Windows locks, preventing deletion and with a right-click you can unlock and delete them. The only restriction I’ve found is that I could only unlock one folder at a time.
The Warptest POV
To keep things in context these are the only bugs I’ve seen since I upgraded. By and large the Windows 8.1 experience is good and I am simply able to get on with my work without excessive tweaks or clicks.
The OS performs well and everyone I have shown Windows 8.1 gets it and even finds it intuitive. Microsoft made a huge effort to absorb the users’ comments from Windows 8 and continue to deliver a great UX.
For those who do need the extra help the boffins at Redmond provided the Help and Tips app with Windows 8.1, sadly not Ms Dewey or Cortana but let’s see what the near future brings us. This App will certainly get you up and running.
Windows 8.1 is here to stay and it’s impressive and easy to work with as long as you hit the power on button with an open mind. If you have only read negative reviews and are surprised by what you read here then get in touch for more details why the trolls are wrong about Windows 8.1
In the meanwhile I’ll report these bugs and see if they are known issues and or if there is an ETA for anticipated fixes.