Windows 8 two days in

Getting a better handle on this Win8 beast and I probably owe it an apology – the WiFi problem is adapter specific. I installed the latest Belkin drivers, assuming (as you do) that the later the better. However they are hardware version specific but I had to dig out a magnifying glass to read the 3 point type that tells you what version you have. The adapter is now happily working on the ancient computer & this one is cabled.
On the actual Win8 front I’m beginning to get the hang of tiles and the start panel. Move your mouse to the bottom left of the screen (as you would for the old start button) and you get the start panel which then takes over the screen instead of a start menu flying up. Basically the same behaviour and I can see why it would make sense for a tablet OS, it just takes a bit of getting used to on a desktop – you lose sight of running apps (not programs).
To see your apps you either need to get the start panel out of the way or hit the top left of the screen with your mouse cursor. At this point it gets a bit confusing. Win8 seems to have two kinds of apps: the new all screen type that seem to be available mostly through the app store, and the old type with the borders which sit on a separate desk top. Full screen apps show themselves in a strip along the left of the screen if you send your mouse to the top left then move downwards. The desktop apps lurk in a pack on the single desktop shown in this strip (the empty desktop does not appear if there are no apps on it).
Confusingly, Win8 comes with both types installed out of the box, the native file explorer runs on the desktop rather than as a full screen app. I swear that the first time I ran Internet Explorer 10 it was a full screen app too but currently it is a desktop version, suggesting that apps might be switchable. I can’t confirm this because I can’t switch IE back to full screen mode.
There is only one desktop so apps which run on the desktop are all gathered here meaning you have to go to the desktop and use the taskbar on the bottom edge of the screen to see what is there. You can still cycle through running apps with Alt+Tab which shows full screen apps and desktop apps. Rather oddly it also shows the empty desktop as if it were a running app.
Overall I’m struggling a little to see the method behind the madness of doing things this way on a desktop; although I appreciate some of this makes sense when you start using a touchscreen. However, on the touchscreen, the desktop apps will surely become difficult to use unless the menus adjust somehow to allow for fat fingers and the absence of a hovering mouse cursor.
I did discover a very handy YouTube video Learn Windows 8 in 3 minutes (OK, it’s really 4)
p.s. This was written in the Worpress app which is a bit bare so excuse any formatting glitches.

Installing Windows 8

Having used a Macbook Pro for the past 10 months I’ve been neglecting the Windows desktop; running Windows Update now and then. Tonight I thought I’d take advantage of the £24.99 update offer for Windows 8. 

Maybe it’s because my Dell is 3 years old, maybe it’s because it’s a Dell, or maybe I just forgot how painful it can be working with Windows. This was a far from straightforward process. 

First you go through the Windows 8 upgrade check. At this point you learn that from Vista you can’t keep your apps, everything must be reinstalled. OK I’ll grit my teeth and live with that. Then the upgrade check comes up with a list of problems, mostly associated with hardware drivers.

Cue visits to several sites linked from the problem list. 

One goes to Belkin and appears to upgrade the wireless USB adaptor but afterwards the upgrade check still identifies the newly updated software as a problem.

The references to Intel web sites are rebuffed by Intel as being unrecognised hardware after installing their hardware update checks.

Try visiting Dell and after installing yet another so called update checker I’m presented with a list of urgent, recommended and optional updates. I choose to download everything just to be safe ten run the first download to be told it’s trying to upgrade the BIOS from 1.0.18 to 1.0.1. Update 2 is a BIOS upgrade to 1.0.18; in other words no upgrade. Some of the rest seem to update stuff, others fail with mysterious errors, some seem to repeat the same upgrade just run.

Frustrating, as even after all this the Windows Upgrade check still lists all the same problems. 

At this point I should have given up but…

Biting the bullet I hope that the Windows install will overcome all the problems listed and fish out the debit card to pay the £25 (opting to shell out an extra £12.50 for a DVD + postage). 

Now I have a 2Gb download to wait for – 20 mins on my broadband. This is followed by quite a lengthy “preparing files” phase but roughly an hour later I’m ready to install. 

I choose to install from media so have to burn the iso file to DVD, another 15 minutes. Finish that and follow on with the install which seems to take ages (I’ve stopped timing things & just get on with other things). 

A couple of reboots later and I have a wizzy Windows 8 screen but no internet and no way of easily updating the wireless adaptor. My computer is a paperweight. 

More fiddling with Ethernet cables ensues switching them between wired computers and my desktop (awkward because of the distance being further than the available cable length). Find and run the network troubleshooter to get Ethernet connected to the internet and download the Belkin drivers again – this time the Win7 version the Windows 8 Upgrade checker failed to point out before the upgrade. This is a temperamental upgrade, stubbornly asking for the device to be plugged in then not recognising it. Even the Microsoft site only offers “hope this will help” when recommending the Win7 driver. I’ve got news for them and Belkin, it doesn’t work with Windows 8. 

At this point I give up on wireless and dig out the long Ethernet cable, sacrificing the connection of  a lesser used machine. Eventually I have a working Windows 8 machine with no wireless. A less than optimal solution but it’s half past midnight, I started this a 8 pm and am now mightily pissed off. Sorting out the wireless will have to wait. 

Apple might be annoying me by sueing all and sundry then trying to avoid complying with court orders they don’t like, but at least their software is easier to deal with.