Windows 8.1 Update is Welcome Refinement but Microsoft Sucker-Punches Start-Button Whiners
I visited the Windows Store last night and attempted to update our three Windows 8 PCs:
- Lenovo IdeaPad Lynx Tablet
- Lenovo C440 All-in-One
- Gateway GT5082 Desktop
A Few Hiccups
The 8.1 upgrade process took a bit of time, as Microsoft’s download servers were working hard. The two Lenovo PCs upgraded successfully, but the upgrade was denied for the old Gateway warhorse because of the lack of CPU support for PAE, NX, and SSE2. Oh well, it looks like it may be the end of the line for the old girl, or I will simply have to soldier on with plain old Windows 8 until she dies from old age.
I also found that the backlight on the IdeaPad Lynx tablet was not turning off in sleep mode and felt a bit of panic. However, within minutes of logging into Lenovo’s Windows 8.1 support Web site (thank you Lenovo), I found an easy solution–a software update to the integrated Intel graphics system–backlight problem solved PLUS more fluid animation in a matter of minutes and I am a happy camper.
Poking Around the Upgrade
The Windows 8.1 upgrade is sweet with a host of new usability features and Evernote killer called “Reading Lists.” It resulted in a significant all-around improvement that enhances usability and customization on a number of levels that experienced Windows 8 users can easily learn at their leisure. Additionally, many features were added to Metro UI and it inherited a lot of controls that used to be exclusive to the desktop. Not to worry though, since the desktop (“old Windows”) has changed very little and if you are a nervous Nellie you can still click on a single tile (“Desktop”), relive the glory years, and populate your old school desktop with icons to your heart’s content.
The Point of this Story
As covered in detail here, most of the unpopularity of Windows 8 was due to the fact that it was “too hard to use”–which we theorize translates into “I need a start button.” The whining was intense, so Microsoft announced that they were bringing back the start button with the Windows 8.1 update. Well, it turns out that the joke is on you:
Click this in Windows 8 to go to the Start screen below.
Much whining ensued…
Click the new Windows 8.1 “Start Button” and…
You go to the Start screen. Expect the whining to continue.
The bottom line is that it’s still a far cry from this…
Windows 8 is Remarkable
Why? Keep in mind that Windows 8 works equally well on a PC or tablet via touch and/or mouse and keyboard. Plus, the Pro version can do anything that your desktop PC can do, like run Photoshop, MS Office, connect to any network or peripheral, and print to any printer–no apps are required (I like to call them “workarounds”) as required with Android and iOS-equipped devices. In fact, just last night I read an interesting article that questioned if and when Google would merge its mobile-based Android OS with its desktop-based Chrome OS. Microsoft beat them all to the draw, and they deserve far more credit than they are getting from the press and users alike and the Windows 8.1 update improves on the user experience without any radical overhauls.