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Windows 8.1 review: Latest edition should start to win over consumers and the enterprise.
IT PRO ^ | 10/24/2013

Posted on 10/24/2013 9:18:21 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

4 Out of 5 Stars
Pros: 
It's free; Customisation options added; SkyDrive tightly integrated
Cons: 
Start Button not fully functional; Still no unified inbox; Upgrading from Preview can be troublesome
Verdict: 
If you're on Windows 8 we definitely recommend updating to Windows 8.1 as soon as possible. It rectifies a number of issues which plagued the original release and whilst it's not perfect, 8.1 is a step in the right direction.

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 is now available to download from the Windows Store for free and addresses a number of criticisms levelled at the Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft has enhanced basic features such as search, improved built-in apps such as the Mail and increased the customisation options ten-fold.

Installing Windows 8.1 varies depending on the version of the operating system you have. Consumers with regular Windows 8 are able to download the update directly from the Windows Store. However, Windows 8 Enterprise users, volume licensees, and MSDN and TechNet subscribers are required to obtain 8.1 as an ISO image and install this.

So what benefits does the 8.1 update bring?

The Start button

The Start button has returned to the bottom left hand corner of the desktop but don’t get too excited. A traditional left click switches users between the Live Tile interface and desktop, whilst a right click brings up the power user menu (Win + X).

These features were already available on Windows 8 - Microsoft has just added the Start Button icon into the corner. There's only one material difference. When you hit right click on the button – you get access to more programs including Device Manager, Control Panel, Network Connections and even have the option to shutdown the machine.


It’s not possible to access programs from the Start button – so you’ll either have to pin shortcuts to your taskbar/desktop or go to the Metro interface to open them. It would have been nice to see Microsoft allow users the option to reinstate the Start Button's original functionality.

Boot directly to desktop

The desktop is where the majority of enterprise users get their work done, so it was baffling when Microsoft forced users to navigate through the Live Tile interface on Windows 8.

To enable this setting hit right click when on the desktop followed by Properties. Click on the Navigation tab and then check the box next to the “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in” option.

There is another option marked “Show my desktop background on Start”. If you tick the box next to it, the Start Screen will now have the same background as your desktop when you switch to it. It’s also possible to configure your machine to boot directly into an app or the app view if you wish.

Desktop users may also wish to disable hot corner features as it can get distracting when the mouse hovers over these areas. To do this go to PC settings > PC and Devices > Corners and edges.

Improved multitasking & resizing

In Windows 8 it was only possible to use two Live Tile apps on screen at the same time. You were also restricted to an 80:20 split. Windows 8.1 allows users to open up to four apps on screen at the same time – and change the size of each window to suit your needs. This allows you to make better use of your displays.


Microsoft has introduced more Live Tile resizing options too. You can have giant tiles for frequently used apps or tiny squares for not-so-commonly used ones. It's possible to select multiple apps at the same time and resize, uninstall or rearrange them.

Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft has been hemorrhaging web browser market share in the face of strong competition from Chrome, Firefox and Safari for years. Will the introduction of IE 11 do anything to convert users back to the default Windows browser?

The signs are positive. Not only is IE 11 one of the most touch friendly apps on the market - with easy to hit icons and plenty of options accessible from the address bar, but it's also the fastest according to the Sunspider benchmark. IE 11 loads pages in an average time of 155ms, compared to 220ms for Google’s Chrome.

You can open an unlimited number of tabs in IE, and snap browser tabs together side-by-side. Microsoft has finally introduced tab syncing between devices. Just open a new IE tab window, and then look for the names of your other PCs at the bottom of the page.

Another user friendly feature is the Reading List – so you can bookmark articles to read later. To activate this – click on the Star icon in the address bar, then the Share icon.

Mailbox

Microsoft has made numerous enhancements to the default Mail app to make it finger friendly. Tapping on an email brings up a wealth of options including the ability to move, flag, mark as unread, delete or open up the email in another window. It’s also possible to sync and print emails by tapping on 'more' options button.

The sidebar has more options allowing users to quickly switch between flagged emails, folders and favourite contacts. We’re still disappointed at the lack of a unified inbox, which has become a common feature especially in mobile devices.

Smarter search

Searching on Windows 8 was not user friendly. Launching the search menu made a list of apps pop up and searching itself was defaulted to look through apps. Not ideal.

In Windows 8.1 the search menu no longer hijacks the whole screen. Instead it pops out of the right-hand side leaving the majority of the screen unobstructed. Searching in Windows 8.1 is superior too. The OS is now set to search everything so it will search Settings, Files and the web – thanks to Bing.


Enhanced support for BYOD

Microsoft claims Window 8.1 will make it easier for businesses to implement BYOD policies by increasing the device management options.

Windows 8.1 has New Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA-DM) support built in. End users can access network resources from any internet connection securely. Devices can be enrolled in management policies so users will be able to get access to enterprise portals, work files and corporate apps.

IT admins can control the way the Start Screen looks - giving employees a consistent experience across devices. Admins will also be able to enforce dynamic control access policies. This means that when a device is removed from the network, users will no longer be able to access enterprise data.

Despite initially stating that Windows 8 would be made for 10in+ screens, Microsoft has expanded support for smaller devices. There are a number of 8in tablets in coming including the Dell Venue 8 Pro and and Lenovo Miix2.

Automated app updates & SkyDrive syncing

This was another feature which was left out of the original OS. It’s easy to activate. Go to the Store, swipe from the right-hand edge to bring up the Charms menu and select Settings. Then choose App Updates and switch them on.

All documents are now saved to Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud repository by default. Of course it’s still possible to save files locally, but if you’ve got multiple devices the ability to pull them from the cloud is invaluable.

Users are given 7GB of cloud storage for free – and it's possible to get increments of 10GB at £6 per year.


Better connectivity and security

Microsoft has beefed up connectivity in Windows 8.1 – with tablets and PCs now able to connect to VPNs automatically when users click on an internal application or URL.

Windows 8.1 devices with built-in 3G/4G connectivity will also be able to act as a portable hotspot.

NFC support is enhanced too. Users can theoretically pair their device with peripherals without having to go through a complex syncing process. Microsoft claims users will be able to attach an NFC tag to a printer and connect to it by tapping their device, for example.

Overall

Windows 8.1 brings a wealth of upgrades to Microsoft's OS, enhancing the user experience by increasing customisation options and beefing up touch support. There is still work to be done, but if Microsoft continues to listen to customer feedback then the latest edition of Windows should start to win over consumers and the enterprise.

Specifications: 

Min system specs:
1 GHz processor or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
2 GB RAM / 20 GB available hard disk space
1024 × 768 screen resolution
DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM driver



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: microsoft; thistimeforsure; windows81

1 posted on 10/24/2013 9:18:21 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

It won’t support many of my peripherals, so I am considering having several computers (for my office) built by a private contractor who will install Win 7. This is on the advice of my computer consultant.


2 posted on 10/24/2013 9:27:14 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: SeekAndFind

One thing that I didn’t like about the 8.1 upgrade is that you now need to have a Microsoft account in order to use certain apps like Skydrive and a few others. There are work arounds but I just don’t like using a Microsoft account to log into my personal computer.


3 posted on 10/24/2013 9:29:23 AM PDT by Wiggins
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To: SeekAndFind
Or you can just run Classic Shell.
4 posted on 10/24/2013 9:31:11 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: SeekAndFind

Microsoft anything is like telling your kid to learn to play the trombone while all the other kids are learning guitar and picking up chicks with Apple products.


5 posted on 10/24/2013 9:33:03 AM PDT by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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To: SeekAndFind

My wife brought home a new Asus laptop with Window 8 a few weeks ago. I didn’t know about it until yesterday, which means that she isn’t having problems or complaining.


6 posted on 10/24/2013 9:33:08 AM PDT by pallis
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To: SeekAndFind
Verdict: If you're on Windows 8 we definitely recommend updating to Windows 8.1 as soon as possible. It rectifies a number of issues which plagued the original release and whilst it's not perfect, 8.1 is a step in the right direction.

Verdict: If you're on Healthcare.gov we definitely recommend updating to Healthcare.gov 2.o as soon as possible. It rectifies a number of issues which plagued the original release and whilst it's not perfect, Healthcare.gov 2.0 is a step in the right direction.

7 posted on 10/24/2013 9:35:20 AM PDT by Red Badger (The only way to defeat liberalism is to give them everything they want......then pick up the pieces.)
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To: SeekAndFind
I am running the 8.1 preview.

To get the full 8.1 version, one has to navigate through the Store app. The Store app does not open for me(server error), and according to Googly, many others.

Microsoft suggestion - reinstall Windows 8.0, then see if the Store is accessible.

8 posted on 10/24/2013 9:36:00 AM PDT by deadrock (I am someone else.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Ping for later


9 posted on 10/24/2013 9:36:47 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I just bought a new Lenovo G500s a few days ago from Staples. 8G ram, 1 TB hard drive. Intel i5 2.6G processor. $500 bucks.

Was a little apprehensive about win 8, but read 8.1 was the fix. I love it. You have to install current updates to win 8 and then go to the apps store. There you will see the win 8.1 upgrade. It was a quick upgrade. One intermediate reboot required.

Once there (8.1) you can get your desktop back. You can make a few mouse clicks to make it boot to the desktop.

See this like for options and configurations.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfeplat/archive/2013/10/17/exploring-windows-8-1-start-screen-and-start-button-options-and-configurations.aspx

I have no regrets with win 8.1


10 posted on 10/24/2013 9:37:36 AM PDT by CodeJockey (Christian, Freeper, Tea Party Member, Bitter Clinger, Creepy White Cracker)
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To: SeekAndFind

And another thing, why force the Store concept? Why couldn’t 8.1 be done through..da da da daaaaaaa, Windows Update?


11 posted on 10/24/2013 9:39:53 AM PDT by deadrock (I am someone else.)
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To: SeekAndFind
My biggest gripe - It appeared to make me log-in with a Microsoft account. This changed the login/password that the rest of my network used when I accessed it from another machine.

Giant pain in the ass! Every apparent work around had negative consequences (really hating UAC, etc...)

Here's the way to install it initially with a local account to keep your old login/password:

After you install Windows 8.1 and you are asked to sign in to a Microsoft Live account, there's no apparent way to move past that screen if your intention is to only have a local account. Here's the trick: Click the Create New Account link and then at the bottom of that next screen you will see a link that will let you cancel the process. You will then login using your local account.

Here's how to save the upgrade to an ISO.

12 posted on 10/24/2013 9:39:56 AM PDT by Slump Tester (What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh -Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: deadrock

I tried to download Office.

Found out it couldn’t be done.

The entire combined brain power at Microsoft never bother to think that not everyone in the world has the exact same super high speed internet connection as Microsoft.


13 posted on 10/24/2013 9:47:08 AM PDT by IMR 4350
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To: Dick Vomer
Not for long. I think Jonathan Ive is about to screw the pooch over at Apple. IOS 7 looks like a cheap knockoff of the previous versions of IOS. And OS X always had a lot of excitement and buzz before. But now no one is talking about Mavericks. There's been zero excitement, and not a little bit of head scratching over Apple's desktop strategy. I'm still using Snow Leopard at home. Apple just isn't giving people a compelling reason to upgrade (and maybe that's why they're just giving Mavericks away now), and I think they're sowing doubts about the future of the Mac. More and more, the Mac seems like Apple's unwanted child, while the iPhone and iPad are the favored children.

I think Apple is preparing to abandon the Mac as we know it... desktop centric computing... and OS X as well. I think Apple is preparing to abandon Intel, and go to an all-ARM strategy as soon as they think their A series of chips are up to desktop strength. I think they'll eliminate much of their high end Mac line, and that the future "iMac" and "iBook" will basically just be ARM powered iPads with a keyboard and mount, and a built in folding keyboard attached to the unit. It makes a lot of sense to do this if you only see yourself as a consumer gadget company (as many within Apple now do), but it's going to leave a huge void in the ranks of dedicated professionals that rely on high end Apple computing products. Who will step into THAT void? That, is an interesting quesiton.
14 posted on 10/24/2013 9:49:42 AM PDT by DesScorp
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To: SeekAndFind

The more Microsoft tries to become Apple the more their OS becomes intolerable. I’ll be on Windows 7 for many years to come.


15 posted on 10/24/2013 9:49:53 AM PDT by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Yeah and the AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACT WILL REDUCE INSURANCE PREMIUMS AND SOLVE WORLD PEACE!


16 posted on 10/24/2013 9:51:20 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: Slump Tester

I went to (tying to remember, I’m on an xp mch at work) pc settings and then skydrive. You can, as far as I can tell, tell it to not use skydrive for cloud storage and/or syncing data between microsoft devices.

You can boot the pc without having an internet connection, so I am not sure if you even need a microsoft account?

It has been rumored that when Bill Gates started dating he would tell of his aspirations of starting his own software company someday. One night while on a “conquest” he asked his date if she could help him come up with a name for his potential company. She supposedly looked down and said how about micro soft?


17 posted on 10/24/2013 9:54:02 AM PDT by CodeJockey (Christian, Freeper, Tea Party Member, Bitter Clinger, Creepy White Cracker)
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; Salo; JosephW; Only1choice____Freedom; amigatec; Still Thinking; ...

18 posted on 10/24/2013 9:59:44 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: SeekAndFind
That Metro interface is just pure ugly. I think of "Idiocracy" every time I see it

It’s not possible to access programs from the Start button – so you’ll either have to pin shortcuts to your taskbar/desktop or go to the Metro interface to open them.

Wow... that would be like an IPhone update that messed up something as basic as copy and paste.... heh

19 posted on 10/24/2013 10:08:02 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: SeekAndFind

I guess I’m going to find out if it breaks Start8.


20 posted on 10/24/2013 10:09:07 AM PDT by Stentor
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To: SeekAndFind

No. it won’t.

I tried this past weekend to upgrade my Win 8 Pro laptop.

Install failed twice. Got all the way to reboot your PC, and it failed - restored me back to Win 8 PRO.

FAIL again MS. You suck.


21 posted on 10/24/2013 10:09:19 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: non vehere est inermus)
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To: GeronL
That Metro interface is just pure ugly. I think of "Idiocracy" every time I see it


22 posted on 10/24/2013 10:10:42 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Blueflag

ping


23 posted on 10/24/2013 10:10:45 AM PDT by coon2000 (Give me Liberty or give me death!)
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To: dfwgator

Yep. there is definitely a resemblance.


24 posted on 10/24/2013 10:11:49 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: deadrock

“And another thing, why force the Store concept? Why couldn’t 8.1 be done through..da da da daaaaaaa, Windows Update?”

Yea, that store thing and requiring users to set up that Microsoft account has sure confused users at a non-profit I help support on the side. I agree, terrible idea.


25 posted on 10/24/2013 10:16:45 AM PDT by DonaldC (A nation cannot stand in the absence of religious principle.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Guess again. Microsoft and the Feds can all burn in Hell together. I’m not drinking their poison. I have been running Linux for the past four years with some minor inconvenience, but no regrets.

Now, if I could just find an alternative to medicine in the United States once our options here run out. Which foreign countries would offer the best combination of safety and affordability to American tourists?


26 posted on 10/24/2013 10:17:34 AM PDT by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
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To: TexasRepublic

Too bad the people who bought the Forrestal for a penny couldn’t turn it into a floating hospital instead of selling it for scrap


27 posted on 10/24/2013 10:18:57 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: SeekAndFind

I had thrown out my Windows 8 for my Samsung Slate but with 8.1 release I reinstalled. Not much changed unless I am overlooking fixes for the problems I have. Biggest problem with my touchscreen tablet is that once you tap on any window the keyboard does not pop up when tapping on an input window. You have to go to the bottom of the screen and tap on the keyboard icon. Then that keyboard is HUGE and I do not see a way to customize it. The alternate OSK(on screen keyboard) is the opposite, tiny and again need to separately tap up when trying to input data.


28 posted on 10/24/2013 10:21:45 AM PDT by Cyman
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To: afraidfortherepublic

You can still purchase Win 7 computers off the shelf.


29 posted on 10/24/2013 10:36:48 AM PDT by pluvmantelo (The issue isn't the issue-power is the issue.)
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To: Stentor
I guess I’m going to find out if it breaks Start8.

It will not. I'm using Start8 with 8.1 on two computers.

30 posted on 10/24/2013 10:41:08 AM PDT by KevinB (A country that would elect Barack Obama president twice is no longer worth fighting for.)
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To: KevinB

Thanks.


31 posted on 10/24/2013 10:48:33 AM PDT by Stentor
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To: SeekAndFind

Ping


32 posted on 10/24/2013 10:49:00 AM PDT by PoloSec ( Believe the Gospel: how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again)
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To: MarineBrat
"I’ll be on Windows 7 for many years to come."

So will the business world. We're phasing out the last of our XP machines right now, and everything we're doing... from desktops to kiosk machines... is Win 7 based. No one in the Enterprise seems to think 8 is a good idea for the workplace. I think 7 will be the standard for some time to come.
33 posted on 10/24/2013 11:32:50 AM PDT by DesScorp
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To: pluvmantelo
"You can still purchase Win 7 computers off the shelf."

It's getting harder to, though. The Win 7 laptops I just orded from Dell were custom orders. Microsoft is definitely presurring OEM's to take away the Win 7 option. Same thing for servers. Just a few months back, you could choose 2008 R2. Now Dell makes you buy a 2012 license and downgrade. Looks like they're going to do this on the desktop as well, very soon. If you want 7, you're going to have to get 8 and exercise your downgrade rights.
34 posted on 10/24/2013 11:37:08 AM PDT by DesScorp
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To: SeekAndFind
So all this hype about how 8.1's going to fix a mistake they had to be complete and utter morons to have made in the first place, several months waiting, and what you get is a PICTURE OF THE FIX??? Bite me, Microsoft! [eyeroll]


35 posted on 10/24/2013 11:41:55 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Red Badger
Verdict: If you're on Healthcare.gov we definitely recommend updating to Healthcare.gov 2.o as soon as possible. It rectifies a number of issues which plagued the original release and whilst it's not perfect, Healthcare.gov 2.0 is a step in the right direction.

They ought to rectify Healthcare.gov, and in fact Obamacare in general, but there's just so many rectums to chose from.

36 posted on 10/24/2013 11:46:16 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: CodeJockey

>>She supposedly looked down and said how about micro soft?

:)

I recall the one where his wife was filing for divorce because after several years they had still not consummated their marriage. The judge was amazed and asked why. The wife responded “all he does is stand at the foot of the bed and tell me how good it’s going to be.”

It was easier to “get” if you were around in the years leading up to Windows 95. :)


37 posted on 10/24/2013 1:08:25 PM PDT by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: MarineBrat
Q: What's the difference between a used car salesman and a computer sofware salesman?

A: The used car salesman knows when he's lying to you.

38 posted on 10/24/2013 1:11:35 PM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: DesScorp

I agree. I’ve got Snow Leopard and 6 Macs, 6 Iphones, 1 Ipad at home..... and one HP POS that has tons of family photos that my wife refuses to change over to the Mac because she can’t figure out how to get the photos out of the peripheral drive she stored them on and for some reason the Mac doesn’t “see” them.

I’m not messing with Mavericks because everything I have works.


39 posted on 10/24/2013 3:14:41 PM PDT by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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