Windows 8.1 Now Available...ish

Today’s the big one: the launch of Windows 8.1

When Windows 8 splash landed a little over a year ago, it was the biggest overhaul to the operating system in years.  Suddenly we had tiles and apps to contend with, rather than just desktop icons.

I disagree with some comments that have been made that suggest Windows 8 was supposed to save the PC industry.  That wasn’t Microsoft’s strategy.  Their aim was to create an operating system that worked seamlessly across every device – PC, tablet and phone. 

And those who see Windows 8 as a massive failure as a result of declining PC sales need to understand the bigger picture – see one of my previous posts.

The thing is, people will always want the best tool for the job.  The PC isn’t always the best tool anymore because lifestyles and technology have changed dramatically in recent years.  People are on the go more, and want 24/7 access to their data.   The working day has become blurred, and we’re checking emails on our phone before catching 40 winks.

So we need something more practical than a heavy duty desktop PC (see Paul Ince struggling with one here as part of an experiment to only use kit from the ‘80s).  We need multiple devices, or something that does the job of all 3…like an ultra mobile which is one of the fastest rising markets. 

And that’s been Microsoft’s strategy – to create an operating system that caters for modern ways of consumption, and to even build their own devices that cater for this – such as the Surface.  Previously the biggest device Microsoft made was a keyboard.

As consumers we have been increasingly using smartphones, tablets, and yes, to a lesser extent, PCs. And we had been using apps for a number of years, so surely Microsoft’s new approach of their ‘live tiles’ seemed logical.  And if we didn’t like using the tiles, we were given the choice of changing it all back to a desktop background if we wanted to.

As we so often learn, what seems like a good idea at the time, doesn’t always pan out that way.  Take Star Wars Episode I.  What a great idea to uncover the backstory to Lucas’ wondrous universe.  The result?  Jar Jar Binks and the biggest mess since Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin.

Windows 8 wasn’t quite at that level of disappointment, but there were a few things that I took issue with. 

The lack of a Start button – I could deal with.  The main thing was the fact that core things weren’t integrated properly into the Windows 8 environment, which so heavily relies on its touchscreen interface.

Neither Word nor Excel are designed as apps (they’re very fiddly and hard to use on a tablet) so I’m hardly ever using the tile screen for work at the moment – which I guess begs the question as to why I didn’t stick with Windows 7.  But I wanted to see how this ‘seamless experience across all devices’ panned out.

With Windows 8.1, I’m very much hoping that there has been more of a focus on integration.

Initial thoughts on Windows 8.1…

Here’s where everything falls down a little – in this part of the blog I wanted to talk about my initial thoughts on Windows 8.1 and give you a real time user’s perspective.  But sadly despite many efforts, I’ve been unable to get it on my machine.

I will persevere though, and provide a full critique once I’ve been able to successfully download it.

In the meantime this video from Microsoft’s Jensen Harris covers some of the new features that have been introduced:

And if you have been able to download it, please let me know what you think!