November 27, 2013


Microsoft and honesty?Honestly, Microsoft and Dell misled me.

I keep getting reminders to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. What's more, the upgrade is free and designed to fix annoyances with Windows 8 (e.g., the lack of a Start button).

I've learned over the years that Microsoft loves hype (Apple does too, but they often delivered in the Steve Jobs era). I've suffered by paying for lousy updates like Windows ME.

Defer Upgrades

My new practice is to only upgrade when buying a new computer. When I got my new Dell mere months ago, I wanted Windows 7. That operating system works extremely well and much of what I do is browser-based. Windows 8 didn’t offer anything worthwhile since my computer doesn’t have a touch screen. Dell didn’t allow a “downgrade” to Windows 7. That meant I got stuck with Windows 8. It's not horrible but its not unnoticeable improvement either.

Anyway, I kept getting these reminders to upgrade to Windows 8.1. I didn't earlier because nothing was broken  and I was wary of new problems arising. By now, the bugs had to be fixed, right?

The instructions say the installation only starts when you accept the new license. I figured I could at least download the new version. I decided to proceed yesterday. The process is very slow but I was able to use my computer during the download.


After hours passed. When I returned from a meeting, a message said my computer would reboot in seven minutes and to save my work. With normal updates you can delay the reboot until you're ready. I thought that was the case here. I expected another reminder, which I could also delay. No No No.

My computer rebooted automatically.

I didn’t have a chance to finish saving my work. This was very annoying because I was nearly done. After the reboot, I accepted the lengthy new license and answered several questions. After waiting and waiting, all I got was a black screen. The hard disk light keeps flashing, which suggests that something is installing. When I move the mouse, I see the pointer and the circle which indicates something is in process. That's been going on for hours.

Get Back

Apparently you can revert to Windows 8 if the installation fails. That option did not appear. An online search says that going back requires a reinstallation of the operating system. That means having to reinstall all the applications too. The data might be preserved.

In my case, I have backups made in real time via CrashPlan and Dropbox. I doubt I'll lose anything except time but time is precious. I'll call Dell because I have their highest level of support. From what I can tell from my online search, the difficulties may have arisen from the drivers for the video card. Either Dell didn’t update them or Microsoft didn’t install the the right ones.

The moral: beware of what companies tell you. Technology, updates can be much more of a hassle then warranted. That's a price early adopters seem willing to pay. I wasn’t. No gain. More pain.


PS Your clients may be wary when you offer them something new …

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