I’ve always had a wandering eye for sexy user interfaces (UI). For it was I who worked on an early Apple Lisa computer when the IBM PC ruled. I quickly followed by purchasing an original Macintosh and salivated at the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial reflecting the Orwellian “Big Brother” message of shattering conventional wisdom, and the MS-DOS view of the world. I raised the flag for the Windows NT Advanced Server release in the early 1990s when my fellow NetWare red heads sneered at the “comical” UI. We’re at the point again in our IT history. Windows 8.1 is here complete with the Start button the early “eight haters” missed so much.
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A day ahead of retail availability, you can now download Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store. There are many important reasons to do this. First – you’ve got your START BUTTON back! And there is the Lock App screen, helpful hints including the new Help+Tips app, new Mail app, improved People view, new desktop themes, improved power menu, IE 11 reading view, improved tracking protections, more disclosure in Express settings, and SkyDrive acts as a local file manager. Plus there are a lot of internal programmatic patches/fixes and updates but these aren’t as dramatic as you might think. Why? Because the reality is the periodic updates (yes – where you reboot your machine or it automatically does so in three days) incorporate patch pacing – a different paradigm from Patch Tuesday. Does that make sense?
Sources close to the top have confirmed that Windows 8.1 has released to manufacturing (RTM) and is on the way. The rumor, which is now fact, was leaked last Friday (perhaps to defer attention on the retirement announcement concerning Steve Ballmer). Like many readers, I’ve been running the Windows 8.1 Preview on a few machines for the past few months. I even have my sons and wife playing around with it on the family PC in the TV room. The consensus: We like it!
We heard today that Windows 8.1 will be released on the morning of October 18. We first reported that Microsoft was going to release a Windows 8 update known as “Microsoft Windows Blue.” Then this past May, the company said it would be releasing an update known as Windows 8.1, which will be a free update to Windows 8 for consumers through the Windows Store.
Why? Why didn’t Microsoft do this the first time? It was as simple as a Start button!
This past weekend, I geeked out in my man cave (maybe I should call it a man cove as I live on an island) and installed the new Windows 8.1 Preview. I completely document the Windows 8.1 Preview deployment experience here in a 10-minute video. You will witness the “real world” as I seek to go where no Harrybbb has gone before: using Windows 8.1. I encountered a few challenges along the way, including the inability to redirect the installation to Drive D, and how the installation must be completed on a monitor in landscape, not portrait mode.
Last week we blogged that Microsoft is making changes to its Windows 8 OS, reportedly naming it Microsoft Blue. Today, we heard that the company has now renamed this initiative Windows 8.1.