Upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 Experience

Windows 8.1 has RTM’d! Now that it’s available on TechNet (R.I.P.) and MSDN, I thought I’d try an inplace upgrade from my home Windows 8 Enterprise machine to Windows 8.1 Pro.

The first thing I did after downloading an ISO was to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to make a bootable USB for Windows 8.1 which is incredibly easy. Then after launching the setup.exe from the USB, I was first greeted with a screen asking for a key:

keyA bit strange that an update needs a new key, but once you enter it,  it will run a quick online check before letting you continue.

It’s zero touch from there, it’ll do it’s magic and get to the end, asking you for your Microsoft ID similar to the original Windows 8 way. A very easy upgrade process!

From here on in, it’s going to be a list of issues and comments I had:

  • The first thing I did was run Windows Update – which took about 15 minutes then came back with an error. I tried again and there were updates this time – I’ve done this on a fresh Windows 8.1 build and had similar results, so I’m guessing it’s not something you should do straight away :)
  • Next it didn’t detect my video card properly as I was stuck at a lower resolution and only 1 of my 2 screens, so I had to download the Nvidia graphics driver. There’s already Geforce drivers for Windows 8.1 in beta, so I grabbed them and they seemed to install fine, brining me back to 2 monitor glory.
  • Now that I have a start button, I can right click on it and get a handy menu. Strangely, once this menu is on screen you can’t move your cursor to your other screen… unless you move the cursor really fast! Moving it slow gets you stuck on the edge of the screen, but rapidly move the mouse and your cursor will jump over the other side. Coming back to the first screen is exactly the same, weird!
  • Right clicking on a file in Windows Explorer was fine, but if the contents of the folder you’re in change, the menu disappears. This is rather frustrating if you’ve got a program making changes to files in a folder. I’m hoping this one is a bug.
  • The default bright yellow background I received wasn’t overly pretty, but being able to set the desktop and new Windows 8 interface backgrounds the same makes for a less jarring change between the two modes. You can set this under Taskbar and Navigation properties, Navigation tab, Show my desktop background on start.
  • Also under the Navigation tab is ‘Show Start on the display I’m using when I press the Windows logo key – another good option to enable so the new full screen start menu shows on the screen you’re currently looking at.
  • Having to install all your programs again is a bit annoying (the data of the programs isn’t lost in the upgrade, so you can either install over the top or hopefully just run the exe file depending on the program)
  • Hints pop up randomly telling you how to switch windows or some other tip. A good idea.
  • The latest Java is incompatible with IE11 at the time of writing this (IE11 gives a warning saying “Several add-ons aren’t compatible with Internet Explorer’s enhanced security features and have been disabled”) , but you can still use other browsers.
  • My Computer in Windows Explorer is now called “This PC”. I guess that makes sense, but you can rename it if you don’t like it just as you could before.

That’s all I’ve hit so far, I’ll update this post with any other unexpected or interesting finds.


One thought on “Upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 Experience

  1. Pretty much same for me. That “several add-ons…” msg seems to only happen first time each fresh boot & launch IE 11. Reusing 11 during sessions doesn’t always pop it up though some sites may cause it to occur.
    My main barf now is problem w/ Flash Player. Won’t work on a ThinkorSwim platform playing its CNBC live video. Had to rollback to older 2 flash.ocx (Takeownership prg to rename those) which worked. But then that breaks Youtube videos which not only play audio w/ black screen.
    Working on that. Trying to redo Java x86 & 64 for Windows 8.1 Pro x64.
    Hate tabs but forcing self to try them since haven’t figured how to again disable that function (may need third fix). IE 11 says a ton of add-ons are incompat but still work esp in desktop.

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