Friday, October 4, 2013

Window 8 - Twentith Pass: Windows 8.1 Upgrade Gotcha's

Since Microsoft relented and finally agreed to give IT Pros access to Windows 8.1 RTM, I was able to install it on my Surface Pro. The install was easy enough. I installed it from a USB stick that contained the ISO files. Why the download is only in an ISO format when the Surface line and most tablets don’t have optical drive is a bit beyond me but it is easy enough to convert to a USB stick.

The install went pretty quick but there are a few gotchas after the upgrade that I don’t fully understand. Here is what to look out for:
  1. The drivers for my Toshiba DynaDock disappeared. They were totally gone. I’m not sure why but I had to reinstall them as there is an August update that includes support for Windows 8.1. I’m not sure if the install removes drivers not compatible with 8.1 or not but I had to reinstall the Toshiba drivers for 8.1 and then the dock started working again.

  2. SkyDrive is majorly updated in 8.1. With Windows 8, I ran the desktop app to keep my SkyDrive folder up-to-date. When I logged in after upgrading, I noticed SkyDrive was no longer an app. Again, the entire app was gone. All that was left in the SkyDrive folder in Programs and Drivers was an install file. The reason for the change is the Start Screen version of SkyDrive included in Windows 8.1 now does all the stuff the desktop app used to have to do. To enable the app to keep your files available offline in the SkyDrive folder on This PC (it is no longer called My Computer) launch SkyDrive from the Start Screen, go to settings from the Charms Menu and then enable Offline Files. Now there is no longer a need for the desktop version, although you can install it and duplicate the effort if you want to.

  3. The Start Button is back but it just opens the Start Screen. What is nice though is the Windows-X command now has a Shutdown and Restart option on it like the old Start menu had. You can also get this by right clicking on the Start Button.

  4. A few other options that are nice:
  • You can now make your Windows Desktop wallpaper your Start Screen image. 
  • You can now boot directly to your desktop and make the desktop your default go-to as opposed to the Start Screen. 
These options are available by right clicking the taskbar and selecting Properties. Then go to the Navigation Tab and look under Start Screen. 
More to come I’m sure as Windows 8.1 gets closer to the public release on October 18. Although most corporate environments are still running Windows XP and 7 it remains to be seen if Microsoft will continue upgrading on an annual basis and if the gap between the real world and the latest releases continues to grow wider.