My own first impressions of the Windows 8 upgrade

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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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