Against my better judgment, I decided to take the plunge yesterday and take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade from Windows 8.0 to 8.1. I had been perfectly satisfied with Windows 8 on my system, but, keenly aware of Microsoft’s intense desire to shove their most recent offering down your throat until you finally cave in, I opted to take my medicine now rather than later.
Upon clicking the icon in the Windows Store, however, the
message told me that I had to be logged in as an administrator. I had instead
expected to have a box pop up prompting me for an administrative password, just
as I normally get when installing an application. This feature was one of the
major benefits of post-XP Windows versions, where you did not have to
physically log in as an administrator to perform administrative tasks.
After switching to an administrative account, I began the
upgrade procedure. Once the download started, I got a cheerful message telling
me that I could continue with other work, so I did. Unfortunately, a couple of
hours later, as the upgrade process was “gathering info,” the Windows Store app
To my relief, after restarting the upgrade, it resumed where
it left off and continued to “gather info” for another couple of hours. So much for
this “minor” upgrade. It took much less time to upgrade from Windows 7 to 8 on
this same system.
Following a handful of reboots, the upgrade eventually
finished. Then the real adventure began.
Microsoft now wants you to link your local account with a
Microsoft account, ie. Hotmail, Outlook. I kept saying no, but the nag screens
kept popping up each time I opened an app. Only after clicking the “Sign in to
each app individually” link in small print at the bottom of the screen was I
finally rid of this nuisance.
Invariably, there’s always a handful of updates after a
major release, so I bit the bullet and ran Windows Update. Surprisingly, there
were only five, but the second of the two, a Visual Studio update, hung. I
eventually stopped the installation, but even after trying to reboot, it kept
trying to install the update. I finally had to power off to stop it.
Upon restarting my system, I checked to make sure my USB
devices worked, and they did, including my HP scanner. Unfortunately, each time
I plugged in a device, there was the annoying wait while the system was
“installing files.” I had already used these devices under Windows 8 and given
that this was an upgrade, I thought that this was unnecessary. When using the
scanner, the “installing files” box actually hung and I had to close it, but
the scanner still worked. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that it still
Interestingly, despite all the warning messages in Windows 8
that Office 2003 is not supported and won’t work, it continued to work
flawlessly in Windows 8.1.
There are some new apps available for Windows 8.1 users in
the Windows Store, including one package curiously called “Essential Apps.”
Among the apps was CBC News.
I have never felt that left-wing propaganda was “essential.” Judging from the results of the last federal election, most
Canadians feel the same way, in spite of the CBC’s attempts to brainwash
Perhaps, in future, Microsoft could consider something more
politically neutral, such as Al-Jazeera or the North Korean news agency.
Thus far, I haven’t seen much of a benefit from Windows 8.1.
I hope that there's some increased stability and security that will make the “upgrade”