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back to article Windows 8.1: Microsoft's reluctant upgrade has a split-screen personality

Microsoft will release Windows 8.1, a free update for Windows 8, on 18 October. The plan had been for no pre-release code until then, but Microsoft has back-tracked. The release to manufacturing (RTM) code is now available early to developers and IT professionals via Microsoft’s MSDN and TechNet subscription sites. There are …

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JDX
Gold badge

Newly installed apps hidden

That sounds terrible for non-savvy users (i.e. the bulk of users). Just how hidden are things - more detail from anyone else who tried it?

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

I downloaded it from TechNet yesterday and installed it onto my Windows 8 laptop. I was a bit alarmed that it didn't offer an upgrade option and instead flattened the thing, only offering to keep my personal files, but that was all. Sure there must be a way to do an upgrade but I'm surprised the wizard didn't offer it.

The installer seems to force you to enter the details of a Microsoft account too - presumably for SkyDrive - and didn't offer a "skip" option that I noticed.

When I installed Office 2013 I was surprised that the Start page didn't put the new apps centre-stage, and they also didn't appear on the desktop. To find them I had to press Start, then zoom out to see all my applications, scroll to the right, and there they were, buried away in the list.

As for booting to the desktop it's hidden as the review says. It's not in the computer settings, or in your user account, but in the taskbar properties! Log in to the Start page, click Desktop, right-click the desktop, and it's a checkbox on one of the tabs. Hardly intuitive. Once set though it behaves as you'd expect.

All in all it seems a little better than Windows 8, but I still prefer Windows 7 because it does what I want it to do in the way I want it to do it.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

I'm using 8.1 Preview so may have changed in RTM but its "hidden" on a second screen. If you look at the first screenshot in the article there is a icon in the bottom left that's an arrow pointing downward in a circle, clicking that takes you to the next screen where all your metro and desktop apps reside. You can also access this screen by right clicking on the start screen and a small banner appears in the bottom with an icon on the right called apps.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

Not sure about that - Windows 8 never put your newly-installed apps "centre-stage" - you click Start and scroll down with the mouse (or swipe across) and they're tagged on to the end of the start screen. All applications that create their own program folders did that. And they never place anything on the Desktop unless you explicitly tell it to (i.e. with a tick box during the installer routine).

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

Okay as a Windows 8.1 user there's a few things that seem weird with your postl

A) The Preview and RTMs aren't upgrades, they specifically state they are fresh installs even going so far as to warn users that they will have to reinstall Windows 8 when Windows 8.1 is officially released. This isn't even in the small print so not sure why that would alarm you and if it was that alarming why continue with the download prior to installing it? Microsoft have stated that Windows 8.1 will be an upgrade made available via the Windows Store app.

B) Windows 8 has always asked you to enter account details during the installation, this isn't new to Windows 8.1.

C) Windows never put apps front and center on the Start Screen, they were always put on the right hand side of the screen and only items installed from the desktop would add a shortcut to the desktop and that's if the software provided you the option during the installation.

Not saying you aren't using Windows 8.1 but most of those issues you've mentioned are what you would have experienced on your original Windows 8 and the other issue carries a warning telling you this would happen before you even download it.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

I can see why this one is a tough choice for Microsoft. 8.0 places tiles on the Start screen by default, but I find this leads to clutter. The Start screen should ideally contani just the buttons I want it to, arranged the way I want them, and having the OS chuck extra tiles in their automatically can be annoying. On the other hand, for something like Office, yeah, almost all users will want those tiles almost all the time. On the other other hand, when I install Office, I really just want the Word and Excel tiles; Powerpoint can fuck right off.

What 8.1 needs here is a tick-box during installation: "Place tile on Start screen?" And, of course, they may have that in the final release version.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

Can't believe I just typed "their" instead of "there". WTF, brain?

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

MattEvansC3

Hello. Well, I *did* install Windows 8.1 on my laptop (want me to take a photo of the screen and send it?) As for the others...

A) I was just saying it surprised me. Windows 7 to 8 has an upgrade. Windows 8 to 8.1 didn't offer one. I just found it unusual. Surely if someone buys a copy of 8.1 - assuming it is made available to buy, rather than buy 8 and click a button once installed to upgrade - they should expect there to be an upgrade. Makes sense to me anyway. As for "why did I continue", well, when I ran the installation it asked if I wanted to keep my personal stuff, which I took as meaning keep my data and settings and install 8.1 around that - aka an upgrade - but once it was installed it had trashed all of my settings, lost my preferences etc. Like I said, it surprised me.

B) Windows 8 asked me to provide that data but provided a "skip" option. I skipped it in 8. 8.1 didn't provide a "skip" option that I noticed - I was forced to enter a MS account, or create one.

C) I was responding to the first post on the comments board. When using Windows 7 (or any other version of Windows from 95 or so if I recall) the Start menu had an option to highlight newly installed programs. When I installed Office 2013 it didn't give an option to add icons to the desktop, or pin them to Start - they were buried away in the Apps list.

Incidentally, I've just looked on my TechNet Subscriber Downloads page and can't see a mention of this being a clean install, not an upgrade, including in the release notes. Just saying.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

I upgraded from MSDN Windows 8.0 Pro to MSDN Windows 8.1 Pro on Monday evening as soon as I saw that it had been made available to MSDN subscribers.

Although I had to enter a new key, the upgrade process was simple and a hour later my system was running 8.1 with all my desktop applications and preferences still in place.

It's early days, but it feels a bit more polished than 8.0 (and slightly faster too, but I've got no benchmarks to prove it).

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

Ed - Strange. The TechNet version gave me the option to remove everything or preserve my files, but there wasn't an option to upgrade. I told it to preserve my files, which it did (in the Users folder in the profile for my account which no longer existed) but everything else was shoved into the windows.old folder. My apps were still there as files, but when I tried to open one it threw an error, so as a result I've had to reinstall the lot. Still, at least my old wallpaper and a few documents were still in the Users folder.

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Facepalm

Re: Newly installed apps hidden

@MattEvansC3

Not saying you aren't used to Windows 8, but it has always allowed you to create a local profile rather than log in with a Live account. Perhaps you never looked closely at the foot of the screen during this step? You seem bent on ticking off someone who ought to be more familiar with the OS, when he was actually correct in pointing out that if 8.1 disallows local account creation then it is quite a lot more restrictive than 8.0.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Newly installed apps hidden

What starting version? I tried to go from W8 Ent to the MSDN upgrade which is W8.1 Pro and had no "preserve" option. Just "keep files" or "keep nothing". A quick Google shows the W8.1 Pro SKU will not be in MSDN for a week to two. Backed off at that stage.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

You're supposed to search for everything.

For some reason it's supposed to be easier to open a search window, type "Firewall", and click "firewall" in the list, than to click the icon directly.

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Coat

Re: Newly installed apps - hidden and hazardous

Things which are hidden can't be seen....... You can be hurt by these.......

MS is beginning to look a bit like the Titanic - the damage is too serious, everyone realises that it is going to sink, and shuffling the deckchairs is doing nothing to address the problem. Fortunately, this time there are plenty of other ships out there to pick up passengers from the wreck and they are doing so very quickly. But MS does not own any of them.

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Re: Newly installed apps hidden

"B) Windows 8 has always asked you to enter account details during the installation, this isn't new to Windows 8.1."

Yes, but there was an option to use local account when installing 8 and I never provided any email during setup. Now, if 8.1 upgrade (or worse complete reinstall over existing system) gives me no choice to avoid these details (there's always mailinator option;) I don't see myself "upgrading". Especially that changes are hardly improvement worth the hassle.

Only 2 millions were curious to try it (I did not even bother to waste my bandwidth cap), gone are the days of mad rush on scraps MS tossed (does any know stats for Vista RTM?).

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Facepalm

Optional

Considering I had to resort to googling to find out how to turn off Windows 8 when tried it, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

"I had to resort to googling to find out how to turn off Windows 8"

So you didn't think of trying Ctrl+Alt+Delete? Sure, some bits of Windows 8 are a break with the past, but this has been the same for two decades now.

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Re: "I had to resort to googling to find out how to turn off Windows 8"

The other thing is that the author refers to Windows as if there's an old way for old people who can't cope with the new touch way.

I don't think this is very helpful. Touch just isn't practical for many actions and using a mouse is faster for many others. If I'm going to have to use the mouse then I'm likely to continue using it. It may be handy to have touch features but the one or the other approach seems to be at the heart of the problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Newly installed apps hidden

"The installer seems to force you to enter the details of a Microsoft account too - presumably for SkyDrive - and didn't offer a "skip" option that I noticed."

That annoyed me when I got a cheap machine to act as a media player for the TV. I don't want it logged in as me all the time as anyone in the house can use it.

But if you want to download anything from the app store, you need to give it an account.

So far, I've not needed anything from the app store so have avoided creating one for it.

(before anyone asks, yes I know I could have bought a cheaper linux based machine like a Raspberry Pi, but so far I have found the only way to watch iPlayer programs offline is via a PC and my internet connection plays up from time to time)

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JDX
Gold badge

For some reason it's supposed to be easier to open a search window

"it's supposed to be easier to open a search window, type "Firewall", and click "firewall" in the list, than to click the icon directly."

I think it is. Even on W7 I am doing this more and more for control panel stuff, and apps, since perusing to see exactly which sub-folder I put the icon in is rather boring.

It's not a "search window (on 8.0 anyway). Even on W7 Hit Windows-Key and type "fire", this is much quicker than start->control panel->wheverever-it-is

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Re: "I had to resort to googling to find out how to turn off Windows 8"

Strangely enough, I prefer using the mouse, so I assumed there would be an obvious way to do it using just the mouse.

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Re: For some reason it's supposed to be easier to open a search window

I think it is. Even on W7 I am doing this more and more for control panel stuff, and apps, since perusing to see exactly which sub-folder I put the icon in is rather boring.... Even on W7 Hit Windows-Key and type "fire", this is much quicker than start->control panel->wheverever-it-is

I do the same, except that I use Ctrl-Esc (I generally ignore the abomination that is the "Windows Key"), when I need to run Windows apps that aren't on my bash path, or control panels / MMC snap-ins that I don't use often enough to remember their names. Faster than navigating through menus and I can touch-type whatever I'm looking for without watching the screen.

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Re: So you didn't think of trying Ctrl+Alt+Delete?

Wow. That's really intuitive for the novice user base MS is aiming at.

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Headmaster

Re: Newly installed apps hidden

"their"

I did that yesterday too! To my horror. I think it is because I read so many poorly written forum posts written by illiterates. When one sees the words used incorrectly day in and day out, after a while the correct spelling becomes a rarity. If I see the broken lose/loose usage again, I may accidentally integrate it into my own writing.

Are our education systems so poor now that we are unable or unwilling to teach our children to spell?

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Re: "I had to resort to googling to find out how to turn off Windows 8"

Just curious; how does one hit "ctrl+alt+del" on a tablet?

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Re: "I had to resort to googling to find out how to turn off Windows 8"

Blitterbug,

> That's really intuitive for the novice user base MS is aiming at.

But I didn't suggest that Ctrl+Alt+Delete was the only way of turning off a Windows 8 device. I was just surprised that someone -- a Register commentard, no less, and therefore presumably fairly knowledgeable -- would resort to Googling before trying Ctrl+Alt+Delete. There are other ways, of course, and I've had no difficulty finding them. I understand that some people can't find them, but I don't understand why, because they're very easy to find.

I might add that it's not the novice user base you allude to who are complaining about Windows 8; it's advanced users. People who don't much care about computers are simply buying new machines and using them, much as they always did. As I and others here have mentioned before, there's this huge disconnect. All the advances users complain about Windows 8 on behalf of novices, but when you talk to actual novices using Windows 8, they make comments about it such as, "It's OK, I suppose," and, "Yeah, it's fine," before moving on to a topic of conversation that normal people actually care about. Sorry, tech people, but novices do not care about operating systems. They just don't.

TimeMaster T,

> how does one hit "ctrl+alt+del" on a tablet?

Fair point. I use Windows 8 on a laptop, so tend to think of it in those terms, sorry. I have not much opinion of it as a tablet OS, as I've never used it as such.

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Facepalm

Re: For some reason it's supposed to be easier to open a search window

"it's supposed to be easier to opena search window, type "Firewall",and click "firewall" in the list,than to click the icon directly."

Funny, that's what I've always said to people when they see me using many xterm's under X. They would invariably say that the windows GUI and mouse was much easier and quicker than having to type commands, and that I should "stop living in the past"!

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Re: For some reason it's supposed to be easier to open a search window

> it's supposed to be easier to opena search window, type "Firewall",and click "firewall" in the list,than to click the icon directly.

This is just nonsense. Windows 8 allows you to pin tiles to the Start screen or shortcuts to the Taskbar or on the Desktop or all three. You can also mount custom menus on the Taskbar, same as ever. So clicking the icon directly is very much supported. Personally, I have some things I run constantly and others I run never, and loads of stuff on the spectrum between them, and I don't want every single bloody shortcut on the machine presented to me every time I want to start an app. So Windows 8 allows me to pick the icons and/or tiles I want and put them where I want, while at the same time making all the other apps and settings very very easy to find via text-based searching. I really don't understand why some people are so angry about this. It's flexible and useful and you're not being forced to do anything: you're just being presented with choice.

Similarly, my browser contains some bookmarks for things I access regularly, and I have access to search engines for whenever I want to find anything else. No, having a bookmark for every single site on the Web and scrolling through them all every time I want to go to my webmail would not be more convenient.

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What about the rest?

Where are the expected announcements for x.1 upgrades for Vista and Windows ME???

I mean - they're a pile of shite as well. Won't anyone think of the children!

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Re: What about the rest?

WinXP was Win ME & Win2K upgrade. (Though Win98SE better than Win ME crapware). Win ME people should have got XP or Win98 free. Maybe Win2K people should have got free XP, though at least Win2K mostly works, as Win XP was the finished version of Win2K

Win 7 was Vista upgrade. It 100% should be a free service pack. Look at version numbers!

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How much different?

Seeing as my lappy came with Pokki and I automatically reassign file associations to everything non-Microsoft plus don't use the MS cloud -- what's different?

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Anonymous Coward

Run As Administrator

A major failing if this option is staring you right in the face. If you are going to hide things then this option should have been at the top or near the list.

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Re: Run As Administrator

"Run as administrator" is what got everyone into trouble with Windows XP in the first place.

It needs to be less-obvious and stay that way.

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Re: Run As Administrator

Have you tried running Win8 as a normal user. Not nice. You need to be admin level (or at least be able to access the admin account) to do anything other than just browse the web or write documents/spreadsheets/adjust photos.

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Re: Run As Administrator

Good.

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Law

Re: Run As Administrator

"Have you tried running Win8 as a normal user."

You should try enabling family settings, just signing in is a nightmare. All the background services, manufacturer plugins/spyware/junk all triggering parent permission screens one after another.

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Re: Run As Administrator

Sorry that's a load of rubbish. I set up a local admin account and changed my daily-use account to a User.

I do anything I like to my computer - all I have to do is enter the local Admin password...

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Re: Run As Administrator

Here, allow me

http://xkcd.org/1200/

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Re: Run As Administrator

Who ever got in to trouble by running anything as administrator?

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Re: Run As Administrator

I have no problems doing just that. I have not used any of my PCs running full time admin. No reason to do this, UAC does work and credential prompt is the least of the issues when using 8.

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Re: Run As Administrator

Unless the only things you do besides browse the web and edit documents/pictures _are_ admin tasks then you're either talking bollocks or doing it wrong.

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Didn't they have a fix for apps appearing on start in previous versions?

I seem to recall, something like "add to start menu/desktop" in the installer....

But all the "old" win8 installers will obviously not have it, assuming this is now something you can (again) do.

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Bronze badge

I suspect...

That no matter what you / M$ do to Windoze 8 will still be a giant turd floating around the drives of the world, torpedoing user data.

Quite sad really when better things exist out there.

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Re: I suspect...

*I* suspect... you'll never like or want Windows 8 - any version of it for that matter.

Perhaps you should focus your energies into something more productive, like fly-fishing?

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Re: I suspect...

Oh my god, you used a $ instead of an S! Because, Microsoft are a profit-driven corporation, right? Wow, that's hilarious. Seriously, my sides are splitting here.

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Re: I suspect...

Yeah, that's near the top of my list of words that stop me reading the rest of a comment.

Micro$oft

Windoze

sheeple

Bliar

U$A

It goes on.

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Facepalm

@ joeW - Re: I suspect...

Hey, not just that! He also spelled it Windoze (geddit, hey, geddit?) and called it a turd!

I bet Microsoft is now totally intimidated by this reasonable and rightful criticism and will immediately stop trading altogether.

We should all thank Longrod_von_Hugendong, the fighter for a better world by arbitray application of playground coprology.

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WTF?

Re: I suspect...

OK, you don't like Windows 8, fine, that's your choice.

But "torpedoing user data"? That's a pretty specific and serious allegation to level against an OS, with absolutely no evidence that I can recall from the normal news sources. Certainly it has been completely bullet-proof on the half dozen or so PCs I am directly responsible for, and if it routinely destroyed data, I think it would have been all over the Internet by now, no?

GJC

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Re: I suspect...

Indeed, as much as I heartily detest Windows 8 to the point where after trying my best with it for about 9 months I've just re-installed 7 on my home machine, I can't say I've seen _any_ microsoft operating system take a cavalier approach to user data.

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