My own first impressions of the Windows 8 upgrade

windows8

I took the plunge and upgraded by production laptop to Windows 8 last night, and I thought I would share my first hand experiences.

My laptop is an HP Pavilion DV6 Core i5 with 6 GB of RAM and a 512 GB hard drive with a 1366×768 screen. It is less than one year old. It does not have a touch screen.

What I did not expect however was that my HP Photosmart wireless network printer would not work either, or that the laptop would have power management issues and be unable to sleep.

First, the purchase experience was not as smooth as I hoped.  I ran the compatibility app, which took a rather long time to tell my eventually that  Microsoft Security Essentials, HP Digital Persona and the Windows Phone emulator will not work.

The first was no real loss, as Windows Defender took over the role.  This was however not explained at the time, which may make many users feel unprotected.

HP Digital Persona was however a much bigger deal, as I feared my built-in  fingerprint scanner would be disabled. Some searching showed that this was unfortunately the case, and HP did not have any update to address the issue. Despite this I took the plunge, but this is still a feature I miss.

Next I purchased the upgrade for £24.50. I decided to use PayPal, which was a big mistake, as the Upgrade app hung while authorizing the payment.  I currently have a PayPal payment pending with no obvious way of cancelling it. This apparently is a common issue which is affecting many people trying to use PayPal. I suggest you don’t.

I decided to forge ahead and repeated the purchase using my credit card, which went smoothly.

The 2 GB download went rapidly, but I was somewhat surprised to be offered to start the process immediately after it ended.

I decided to retain my apps and settings, having no appetite to reinstall all my apps.  I also heard that the fingerprint scanner functionality can be retained with an inplace upgrade. Unfortunately before I could start the upgrade the Upgrade app demanded I uninstall the 3 offending applications and restart Windows.

After the PC restarted I was suddenly confronted by an error saying the upgrade utility needed administrator access to run, and then promptly exited. No link was left on my desktop to restart it with admin access, and running the app from the website again demanded that I purchase the upgrade again.  I finally found searching for Windows Upgrade in the start menu will find the Upgrade utility and allow me to recommence the process.

From here on the process went smoothly, but took much longer than I expected, finally ending around 4 hours later. At several points the counters seemed to freeze at 2% or 97% for 10 to 30 minutes, but it did eventually complete without intervention.

During the initial install process Windows did however ask me for my WEP WIFI password, which I had hoped it would retain from Windows 7. Given that I stored the details on my PC, getting online had to wait till I had access to the desktop.

As expected my fingerprint scanner did not work.  What I did not expect however was that my HP Photosmart wireless network printer would not work either, or that the laptop would have power management issues and be unable to sleep. I had to change the power button from Sleep to Hibernate.

All that did not sound too good, so now on to the great part of Windows 8.

The OS is in fact great, and works very well with the mouse.

The OS is in fact great, and works very well with the mouse.  While I did not have much use for the Charms bar, multi-tasking is brilliant on the OS, and finally made sense of the Snapped view in Windows 7 which never really worked very well. Docking an app on the side of the screen finally allows one to copy and paste easily from emails or keep an eye on Twitter.

The Start screen also worked smoothly, and when you pin your desktop apps to the screen means one can live there quite comfortably. I never missed the Start Menu.

All my Windows 7 apps also worked smoothly, meaning I could be productive straight away.

The Windows 8 apps also worked well, and did not appear to waste screen real estate, a concern some had about having Metro apps on a big screen. My only real concern however was the long load times of the Windows 8 apps – something I really did not expect on a PC and a real annoyance.

The Windows 8 Mail and Calendar apps seemed to have all the functionality I normally use when using Outlook, meaning that is one constantly running app I could finally close. Metrotwit docks nicely to the side of the screen meaning I am always up to date.

…this is the first Windows OS in a long time where I felt Windows was involved in my work flow

Overall my first impressions is that this is the first Windows OS in a long time where I felt Windows was involved in my work flow, and in a good way, and one which finally changes the game, unlike Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7, where all that really improved in my day to day use was searching from the start menu.

I would however warn those who are planning to upgrade that despite Microsoft’s assurances even recent PCs may find they have unsupported hardware, and with PC OEMs being increasingly financially stressed, there can be no automatic assurance that these drivers will be made available. This may be another OS where it would be better to upgrade the hardware and software at the same time.

I would never go back to Windows 7.

Despite these hiccups, due to my love of the Snapped view, which makes me feel a lot more productive, I would never go back to Windows 7.

What have our reader’s experience been of the update? Let us know below.

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  • Mikado_Wu

    Nice Write Up.
    I am interested in what hung up your install. I have uprgade 3 laptops and 2 desktops (All Dells) over the last month, and never took longer then 1 hour.
    Maybe those HP Programs….

    • surur

      I suspect it was copying a huge number of small files on my PC, which includes a number of monthly full backups of my websites. Of the 500 GB on the HDD, only about 20 GB is free.

      • rsgx

        Yeah, I’d look into getting another HDD. I just upgraded my 80gb SSD to a 256gb and did a clean reload with the upgrade.

        It runs incredibly well.

    • GG002

      Same here. Yesterday I upgraded my clean Win 7 install on an HP laptop (256GB SSD main drive). I used Paypal and it worked without a hitch, even when I managed to mess something up. The installation also only took about ½ an hour, which would’ve been faster if I had disconnected my external HDD, since installation got stuck at 90% for like 10 minutes (and was promptly done after disconnecting peripherals). I also have all my data on a secondary HDD in my laptop, so not much data slowed the installation down.

      I do have a few problems for now.. Adjusting screen brightness doesn’t work, and there’s no sound in Xbox Music and Video apps (the Metro ones). Also, I had to reinstall ESET Smart Security or else my internet wouldn’t work.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000089286668 Truitt Dill

        you might be missing drivers..

        • GG002

          Yes, I’m aware of that.. Though not missing, just that the current ones somehow conflict with W8. Need W8 drivers for stuff.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000089286668 Truitt Dill

            im sure large companies (like hp) will start cranking out some drivers in the next week or 2 I would just periodically check online to see if they are there yet. It might also depend on how old your laptop is(im assuming its relatively new because it has a SSD) that they might stop updating drivers for it. Any way best of luck!

    • neilspartacus

      Just got the enterprise key to install Win 8 on my work laptop.. about to start now. I am planning to install it as a dual boot as I am not sure if all my development tools and programs will be happy too much work at risk to upgrade.
      Will post my experience!

  • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

    Had no issues with my upgrade on an HP desktop, but I was using a regular install of Windows 7 and all my apps were moved over fine. Updating the OS is key though, I couldn’t update some of the Metro apps till I did it manually. Now everything is going swimmingly. :)

  • bnlf

    upgrade was very smooth to me from Windows7. Except for Essentials, it kept all my programs and configurations. I did use paypal, no problem either. I guess i was lucky then. My printer, external drive and other devices are working ok. Back in developer preview i remember i had a problem with my Cisco Wifi Adapter but i manage to make it work. Didnt tried yet on Windows8 final cause im on cable right now.

  • http://twitter.com/rfrappier Robert Frappier

    HP is the worst for driver support. And they wonder why they are falling behind. How difficult is it to have drivers ready when you have a year to prepare. I have an HP desktop, if you could call it that, all they did was stick an HP sticky in the front! This thing is crap, the DVD burner that came with it froze my PC whenever I tried to use it to burn DVDs! Nothing on HPs web site on how to fix the issue. I eventually bought an external one and works 100%. When I tried Win 8 for the first time in 32bits my two printers and scanner worked fine, but trying the experience on a 64 bit version of Win8 I came across issues with the “64 bits version” of their driver for my HP LaserJet. It never worked, something to do with the USB connection, Everything else worked fine, the other printer which used a MS driver and the scanner. This convinced me that I needed to update to 32bits only. Which works amazing, the OS is so fast. My next PC will be a 64bit, and I hope HP will get there act together by then. Needless to say that I’m not impress with HP. Windows 8 on the other hand is top notch.

  • http://www.mainstreetchatham.com/ JimmyFal

    Microsoft has been criticized for not sweating the details and they don’t make it obvious at all that you can actually call them on the phone and they will remote control your computer throughout the entire process to make sure it goes smoothly. I don’t think they want to deal with the call volumes if they can avoid it.

    I do a LOT of OS installs, and MS doesn’t inform end users outright that they should do all the updates first thing before doing anything. Many times people go about installing stuff while the OS is actually updating in the background. Details like this are not made obvious enough to the end users.

    On my new Surface computer there were multiple updates for the OS, all the apps, and MS Office 2013. Many of these updates hung up and I was forced to power down and backup in order to help the process along. Poor consumers that have to deal with this stuff because at least I knew what to do. (fyi, turn it off and turn it on, now that is easier than the old days btw.)

    I think once a few bugs are worked out things will tend to go much smoother. I think anyone upgrading any computer would do well to do a clean install that would only take about 10 – 20 minutes really, not 4 hours, then you can spend the rest of the time doing updates, and reinstalling applications etc. I can’t stress enough the performance increase of an SSD drive.

    I’m curious about your statement: “Snapped view in Windows 7 which never really worked very well.” I’ve never seen this not work. That seems very strange indeed. I’m especially encouraged that you found it so easy to stay in the desktop environment. A lot of people just don’t get that it is quite easy to do. Were you able to find the correct drivers for you printer at hp.com?

    • surur

      When talking about the snapped view in W7, I dont mean it does not snap, but most often the app becomes useless, not being designed to be useful when so narrow. In W8, the Metro apps are specifically designed to change their UI when snapped.

      I have not tried the printer yet – I am spending my time trying to get me fingerprint scanner to work, which I understand is possible.

      • misterac

        I guess you could use an external monitor with a proper resolution. ;) In my experience you really need width > 1920 for it to be truly useful.

        • surur

          It is to my profound irritation that in UK we pay more than most for laptops, without any choice of customization, and usually poorer specs.

  • dablackreaper

    I get that there is the snap view. But in Windows 7 ,You could open and compare two programs each taking half the screen space.
    In windows 7 it used to work with the windows key + arrow right/left..
    Can someone tell me if the document compare view is still present or not??

    • alukard

      You can still do everything you could do on Windows 7 in windows 8 desktop. You loose nothing, you just gain a new start area and way improved performance.

      • dablackreaper

        thank you so much!!! that was essential for code reviews!!!

      • Yamishi

        lose*

  • alukard

    I did a clean install since I was way overdue a PC clean up and I’m still shocked how fast it was compared to previous versions of windows. No compatibility issues with hardware and I just reinstalled latest versions of previous software the upgrade assistant advised me of.

    I’m just so pleased to have the final version FINALY!!! The app store is full of apps, I’m swamped with what to install. Its awesome.

    I’m now just itching in anticipation for my Surface on the 2nd November. 1 week has never seemed so long.

  • http://94octane.com Beezer

    I’ve been using the RP version for a while on a tablet (EP121) and there were a few things that I didn’t like at ALL. IE was still buggy and some of the built in apps needed tweaking.
    But I decided to try it out and see if these were all worked out, and for only $40. Why not. So, I installed. But unlike you, I’ve always, always, and always lived by doing a clean install vs. an upgrade. It’s much faster and gets rid of so many problems.
    I downloaded the upgrade program, purchased the $40 version, downloaded the files, put them on USB and burned a DVD copy. Installed with no problem at all.
    Now I have another machine, a laptop, a Toshiba R835. I went online and seen that Toshiba was on the right track. They got things right, pretty much every single thing is working on my laptop EXCEPT. WiDi. Yes, that is an issue. But I know it will be fixed shortly.
    So I don’t blame Microsoft for your upgrade woes. I do blame HP and other manufacturers for not getting in on the game. It’s their fault. Every driver I downloaded for my tablet was published last month. So they’re on their A game.

  • Chuck

    how do you install it on more then 1 computer?

    • rsgx

      Buy another license?

  • Jorgen

    I bought both the upgrade and a 256GB SSD disk today. Win8 went on the new disk which leaves win7 fully functional on the old disk. I have a few problems though and right now I’m back in Win7…
    1. All my data is on a Qnap NAS (running Linux I guess) That’s where my documents, pictures, movies and music is stored. In Win7 I had no problems including those NAS folders in the corresponding windows folders, so that the pictures on the NAS showed up in Windows Pictures folder. After several hours I still haven’t figured out how to do that in Win8. Which means no pictures, no documents and no music.

    2. I have used Outlook until now but hope to be able to skip that. I have a gmail as my main account and hotmail for MS account. As far as I can see the inbuilt mail program doesn’t allow creation of folders and it doesn’t support dragging mails to other (gmail) folders.
    3. Contacts from all over are shown and mixed together. I have been using Windows Phone for 2 years and I like my contacts to only show my MS Account contacts – not all my facebook, linkedin, twitter contacts that I really don’t care about.

    Well, I’ll continue trying…

    • misterac

      1. Can’t you just add the folders from the NAS to the Documents/Pictures/Videos libraries? I know it takes some messing with the console and mklink /D, but it does work. Besides, the same problem exists in Win7.

      2. Why not use Outlook on Win 8 then? It’s the same as on Win 7 anyway.

      3. You can choose to filter contacts by specific services (like on WP7), so you can just get rid of those you don’t want to see.

      • Jorgen

        Thank you…

        1. I’ll look into that. But I’m quite sure that I haven’t done anything on Win7 with mklink, I think I would remember it. But then again – I don’t remember what I actually did back then, so maybe…

        2. I probably will, I was just hoping that I could dismiss it :-)

        3. Wtf? I’m apparently as blind as a [fill in the right word here]

  • misterac

    I had a really positive experience updating my custom-built desktop. I had to get rid of Defender, Avast and Intel USB 3.0 drivers. After that it took probably 30 minutes to install (I did a clean install – I’ve been burnt on upgrades once and will never do it again, although I’ve heard it is actually supposed to work quite well).

    I’ve had zero compatibility issues, all smooth sailing here.

  • augoustous

    well I am also having a pavilion dv6. And my fingerprint scanner works!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/deadonthefloor Mark Firemoon

    My upgrade went smoothly. Once the upgrade completed, I ran the setup again which allowed me to create an ISO. With Windows 8 built-in ISO mounting support I was able to copy the install files to a bootable USB key I have floating around from DP and RP days. I am quite impressed with the web installer.

  • Avatar Roku

    4 hours? My update took 25 minutes.

    • alukard

      lol, yeah. it took 4 hours to backup my stuff (highly recommended btw), but less that an hour to install W8 start to first boot. good stuff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Longshot9 John Hough

    My upgrade went smooth as well. Took me a total of maybe 4 hours including downloading and getting rid of the software it said I couldn’t use. DisplayFusion… which oddly enough, the exact same version was installed after the W8 upgrade and works just fine. MS Security Essentials. Some other minor program. I had to free up some space so I had the 20gb required for the upgrade (only have a 128gb ssd as my OS drive). I was also instructed to deauth iTunes as well.

    So it’s been upgraded since last night and all is working beautifully. The only thing I can’t check on for drivers is my Samsung printer cause it’s out of toner, but the drivers and software are working.

  • lovingWin8

    I installed the release preview over my copy of win 7 that I had running in bootcamp on my 5 year old iMac. Worked like a charm. The only issue was the Catalyst Control Center, but I got that sorted. I’ve had absolutely no issues with it since!
    I think I’d rather upgrade my hardware for the full version of win 8, though.

  • Frostie

    Hmmmm… that’s weird.
    I wasn’t even prompted to retain my apps and settings.
    What’s going on here?

  • Joe

    used PayPal to obtain my copy without any problem

  • Karl Heinz Hom

    looks so ugly without glass, blur, rounded edges …

  • ingrid

    My windows 8 will not upgrade. It configures to 97% then reverts the process. It’s infuriating . it does this 3 times then gives up meanwhile i can do nothing with my computer not even switch it off. I installed it on new laptop. I’m now not inclined to install it on my other laptop. Windows 8 is pretty but not as robust as windows 7 or as intuitive and logical. But IT WILL NOT UPGRADE!!! Does anyone else have this problem?