Sunday, November 11, 2012

Windows 8 Pro, Initial

My initial impressions of Windows 8 Pro leave me mostly bewildered. Installing it on my Lenovo as an upgrade was, I’m certain, not the experience Microsoft wants their users to have. Right away, I would strongly caution anyone upgrading on older equipment, and when I say older, I mean anything eighteen months or older. Even better, get Windows 8 on new hardware already installed.
I’ll dispense with the details but after my recovery partition was deleted, I was locked out of the bios, and Windows 8 Pro wouldn’t activate, I was pretty frustrated.
First, the partitioning tools that came with Windows 8 installation suite are mostly useless, so if you’re working around Linux, a Linux Swap, System, and Recovery partitions, you’ll be flirting with disaster. Make sure you reset your machine to factory and back up your files before even attempting an upgrade. Windows 8 isn’t advanced enough to handle anything more than that.
The packaging on a copy of Windows 8 is pretty deceptive. Near as I can tell there is no such thing as a full version that allows you to do a clean install. You’ll have to re-install your old OS and upgrade regardless of what you purchase. This is counter intuitive to everyone who has been wrestling with Windows for more than a decade. Doing a fresh install is always better than an upgrade, but now you've no choice but to do the latter apparently.
Yeah, it’ll let you do the fresh install, but your copy won’t activate forcing you to go through the whole process over again.  
Near as a colleague and I can tell, the OS boots in such a way and quickly enough that you’ll be prevented from getting to the BIOS to make adjustments. That’s how it is on my Lenovo anyway. The restart features within the OS that claim to allow you to boot from other sources doesn’t work whatsoever, and I still haven’t found a reliable way to boot from a USB. Most of the advanced features I’ve found in control panel and settings don’t do what they claim and are likewise useless.
I found myself wishing I had a copy of Windows Millennium. Seriously, it would have been easier to install.
In the end I did a fresh install to try and find some feature that would let me boot Linux or access some sort of disk utility as I had not yet discovered my recovery partition had already been obliterated. Miraculously, the product activated and began to work normally. I have no idea why (from all indication, it shouldn't), and I was able to go in and check out some of the aforementioned “features”.
I loaded Office Pro 2010, Sketchbook Pro 2011, Minecraft, Java, and a few other odds and ends like Dropbox and began giving the operating system a try. It’s incredibly fast, intuitive, and elegant once you get it running. The store and handling of applications is great, the ability to organize the Start menu quickly is nice, and the performance is nonpareil. For reference, I'm running it on a Lenovo e420 with an i3-2310 @ 2.1 GHz, and 8 GB Ram, 7200 RPM harddrive. Pretty much stock except for the extra stick of RAM.
I couldn’t say enough great things about it until I discovered something ugly. I clicked on the beautiful weather application and scrolled all the way to the right. Big as life, there’s a shampoo ad or something displayed right in the app. I chuckled not because it was funny, but because it was decidedly not funny. Microsoft put ads in the “Pro” version of the operating system? Really?
Yeah, bewildered is the right word here. I'll write more as I get things figured out.


  1. I heard that they lowered the cost of this operating system from hundreds of dollars like its predecessors to ...70 or 80? So when you said you had to have a previous OS "I saw what they did there"

    and again with the ads.

    guess they have to make up the difference somehow. sort of like Apple maybe? since Apple charges a pretty premium on everything else, their software has historically been less expensive. maybe Windows is taking a lesson from Apple's book, but in a different way?

    Im glad it looks and feels nice otherwise tho. That's a good thing :)
    I was hoping to buy windows 8 for cheap and slap it on my bootcamp. aw well. bootcamp would just cause me to install a myriad of games that I really don't or shouldn't have time for.

    good article.

    1. Thanks Kyle.

      I quit PC gaming about a year ago. It really changed how I looked at personal computing choices I made in the past. Every consumer grade device I've purchased in the last ten years, with the exception of my iPad, has an average operating time of about a year, and cost an average of $1100. Every enterprise grade device I've purchased cost an average of $1250 (slightly more) but is still currently operational.

      Even my ancient (2003?) Toshiba business-class laptop is still humming along like new on my Mother's kitchen table. Every consumer grade machine I've purchased had the "good for gaming" perk where my enterprise machines were better for work and not-so-good to average for gaming. In the long run, if a year can be considered as such, an enterprise grade machine will be cheaper than a consumer grade one.

      I think one of the reasons I'm excited about Microsoft's Surface RT and Surface Pro hardware is that they have the look and feel of enterprise or business grade hardware. Even the $500 RT device felt like it could stop a bullet.