Upgrade to Windows 8.1 ?

The upgrade of Windows 8 to 8.1 was released by Microsoft last week.

I have a Lenovo laptop Model X230 which I purchased less than a year ago, running Windows 8. While I am happy with the X230 hardware, I was not that happy with Windows 8. It was confusing, difficult to use, and not context-sensitive like the MAC OS – and, not user friendly at all. I liked the Windows XP Professional the best so far (Windows 7 was a waste of time).

While making the decision to upgrade to 8.1, I was in two minds. Is it going to be worse than what it was in 8 ? Is it going to corrupt all the data ? Is it going to affect the running apps ? Is it going to force my hand back towards Apple ? etc., etc.,

I decided I was not going to back up my hard disk. A risky bet, but a bet it was !

I started Saturday evening to figure out a way to upgrade – I thought it would be better to use the Internet Explorer as it is after all, a Microsoft upgrade which would be intimately tied to the IE browser. I went to update.microsoft.com as anyone would do, and saw the free update button. I clicked it and nothing happened. I checked the browser options, and everything appeared to be fine [I have to disclose that I use the Mozilla Firefox almost exclusively, and the Google Chrome occasionally]. I tried couple of times to update but nothing happened via the IE update button.

I thought “Oh, this is going to be hard, man”.

Then I thought, why not try the Firefox browser – just try it and see.

And you know what – it worked the very first time I clicked the update button at the Microsoft site I mentioned above !

Amazing isn’t it ? There may be something wrong in my IE configuration, but I am not going to behave like a technical expert trying to figure out what is the problem with IE and waste my time on a Saturday evening, right ?

So, the update button worked on the Firefox browser, and the download started off via the Microsoft Store.

The good thing in this update process was that I was able to use the system without surrendering the system to the control of the update process. But, that was the only good thing !!

It took more than an hour to complete the update with two reboots, which interrupted the above usage of the system while updation was going on. The funny thing is that the system kept on stating that it is checking the devices, setting up the system, et al……..and took a long time in each one of these steps.

All this can be forgiven if I could get back my system in exactly the same fashion it was before the update, with new functionality and interface.

But it was not to be. The update is not designed that way. Not like MAC OS.

Microsoft forced me to do a number of things when the system was finally ready to be set up with personalized data. My original Windows Sign-on password and fingerprint identification did not work. I was forced to create an Outlook.com sign-on which I did not wish to – but then, there was no choice for gmail or yahoo email ID – only Outlook.com, Live.com and Hotmail.com – all Microsoft products. Any surprise here ?

In any case, I went through all these steps, but my fingerprint ID still has not worked. I have to separately configure that now. Some other program now has a compatibility issue. All such mis-steps puts users off. I am sure more advanced users will end up dealing with more complext challenges during the update process.

The interface looks slightly better after the update, but I am yet to use the system comprehensively. Everything except one app seem to be working find, but I need to check further.

Microsoft needs to do more user testing, and learn from Apple.


Vijay Srinivasan
20th October 2013


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