Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Windows 8.1 for RT is available

Following the sudden removal of Windows 8.1 from the RT store the other day, Microsoft have quietly slipped it back on.  I might have been looking the other way but I didn't see  any announcement by Microsoft that the software was back available on the store, I just tripped over it when taking a wander through the other night.

To be fair, it is in-your-face if you open up the store.  You're not going to miss it, that's for sure.  I reckon the software was taken off the store for probably no more than 48 hours, but seeing as Microsoft slipped the software off as quietly as it returned it, there has to be a touch of guesswork.  Whatever the timeframe, it seems that the problems that Microsoft were sorting weren't as extensive as they sounded.  I don't know if those who rushed in when the software was first launched have solved their blue screen of death problem, but if that's you and you're reading this on another PC I would suggest contacting Microsoft and downloading the new improved files.

Anyway, in a moment of rashness I pushed the download button and was initially impressed in the visual indications on progress, then a little irritated because they were actually demonstrating lack of progress.  Of course, like most if not all Surface RT owners, I'm a little spoiled because RT comes pre-installed on the Surface.  I have no idea about how long it takes Microsoft to load RT onto each Surface they prepare for sale, and care very little to boot.  Until I'm watching a very slow update progress bar creep along the screen. 

It's not just visual but numerical, too.  The progress screen kept me advised on how much percentage progress had been achieved, to save me measuring the horizontal bar.  Eventually, after about an hour, the download was complete and was advised that it was preparing files for installation.  More percentage advisement followed by one or two more screens mentioning that it was 'just one more thing'.

Somewhere along the way Microsoft text you a code to validate your license, using the mobile number you registered when you first logged onto your Surface, or possibly when you first obtained a Microsoft account.  It may be worth checking that detail before you start your upload if you registered with Microsoft some time ago and you're in the habit of changing your mobile number.  I think you can alter it on the fly, but as I cling to my mobile number for dear life that wasn't a problem.

Eventually - allow at least 90 minutes - the upgrade was complete.  A bit of admin and Windows 8.1 is installed and running.  I'm just getting used to some of the features, such as the search anywhere function that doesn't ask you to select apps or Bing or your computer - it searches the lot.  I'm trying to find Bing at the moment because there are times when you know it's an internet search you need and Bing preserves your most recent search.  The new ways of splitting the screen is proving useful as I like to see  multiple applications running concurrently, although of course on the Surface you're going to struggle for real estate.  I was going to load Outlook on, but the general mail application has been updated and I'm playing with that first before I engage Outlook - it may sit comfortably side by side with the mail app but that's unproven right now.

The only issue I've experienced so far is running Blogger - it keeps telling me I should be using Chrome.  Now I ran Blogger successfully under Windows 8 and I can't find Chrome in the Windows store.  It does hang a bit, but if you're reading this I guess it isn't the end of the world

Ultimately the upgrade went seamlessly, if a little long winded.  Time will tell if it is a real benefit over basic Windows 8, but at least it didn't end up with the blue screen of death!


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