Simplifying Technology

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Thanks Windows - my brain hurts

A couple of weeks back Mr Dell delivered me a neat new XPS laptop,  Great device, beautifully made, expensive but cool.  This one came with Windows 8 installed and I knew this would be a challenge.  I know Windows 7 and earlier, and I had read the (usually bad) press on the Windows 8 experience.  Still, I like a challenge.  Anyway it all worked as expected, I sort of got the hang of Windows 8, although I am still mystified at the confusing mix of touch stuff (which I can't use on this laptop) and older point and click stuff.  I personally think Microsoft would have done better to have two variants of Windows for the two environments.  But, what do I know, Microsoft is smarter than me, well richer anyway.

After playing for a few days I thought to myself well, lets get the free Windows 8.1 update installed.  That is meant to simplify the touch/mouse conundrum.  I read the instructions.  Wow, That's easy.  Go to the Store, click the, apparently obvious, 8.1 tile, and go.

Headache Pills
Headache Pills (Photo credit: sacks08)
This is where it all started to unravel.  I went to the Store, like a veteran as I had already poked around in there.  Now where is that 8.1 upgrade tile?  Nowhere that I could see.  The instructions said it was obvious - wrong.  It wasn't there.  I spent a while looking in various categories, at increasingly smaller tiles, but it wasn't there.  I finally went to Uncle Google and found I wasn't alone.  There were lots of reports of this being unavailable.  The most common cause was apparently not doing the Microsoft updates.  But, I work in IT and know that installing patches is often a good thing and I had done that on day one, and I already had the special one that enables the 8.1 update.  Still I did it again.  A couple more arrived, but the mythical 8.1 upgrade tile still didn't show.  After a couple of days and further research I was close to sacrificing a goat and chanting the appropriate spell when I noticed a couple more updates had arrived.  I did those, rebooted (again), and, to my surprise, the 8.1 Upgrade tile was suddenly front and centre of my choices.

So it was with a sigh of relief that clicked the upgrade button.  Guess what, Windows 8 hadn't finished with me yet.  "You can't do this as you are not an Administrator".  "Oh yes I am" I yelled (actually I yelled a lot more than that).

Back to Uncle Google.  Guess what, many people had this issue as well, and there were the usual 1,000 solutions, 999 of which don't work.  I know I tried a few and I won't bore you with the details here.  Buy me a beer sometime and I'll tell you.  After several more days I finally tried the correct bit of voodoo.  This was to un-install the special patch to allow the 8.1 upgrade and re-install.  I still didn't have a goat to sacrifice, so I tried the voodoo approach.  It worked and down came the download, meek as a lamb (or goat).  Much to my delight and surprise, the upgrade installed and up came 8.1.  Windows had finally relented and let me into the secret 8.1 club.

I have no idea why this didn't work as it should, and why it is so obviously complex and error prone.  I am not impressed.

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