Why I love Windows 8.1

Posted by Rob Enderle

I’m a Windows 8 user, even though I whined like a little baby when first struggling with the new UI like most. Of course I’m long over that - restoring to whining only when I’m given a Windows 7 machine to use. And Windows XP? Honestly, it feels like I’ve stepped back into the dark ages.   

However there are some things that still annoyed me about Windows 8 and Microsoft actually fixed all of them (when has that ever happened?) in Windows 8.1.  

Now some of the things have annoyed me since Windows 1.0 so this is like pulling a long nasty thorn I was almost born with out of my foot. The sigh of relief was, to use a phrase out of a sitcom, LEGENDARY.  

Full Migration

The one thing that has annoyed me to no end is the fact that Windows migrations generally took hours to do and could take days to fully stabilize. You had to move across all of your files manually (initially with floppies), then either reinstall or buy new apps (including Office), and eventually you had an environment that approximated your previous desktop. Although I once tested several systems in a single month, with each one taking an inordinate amount of time to stabilize.  

With Vista, there were some good things, yes, but it did of course get better. You could automate files and settings, while much of the installation occurred automatically. Windows 7 improved this, but one still had the issue with the apps. Setting up a Windows 8 machine after being on Windows 8 is actually far easier - particularly if you have been using SkyDrive but you still had to install the SkyDrive app (which didn’t work on Windows RT) and the damned apps still didn’t move.

Well, with Windows 8.1 you can now argue that the migration process may actually be better on Windows than it is on a Mac. Everything (but Office) migrates and installs. In fact, all you really have to do is log into the new machine the first time and presto the migration starts in an amazingly short period of time. Yes, I do realize you have to be on Windows 8 to get this experience and it really only works with Windows 8 and 8.1 apps - and Office still isn’t one.   However, this last issue should get fixed in a few months, so suddenly I’m one big grinning happy camper. 

Death of 5 Device Limit

I have a lot of Windows 8 devices: tablets, laptops, PCs and I have a Windows Phone. The problem? Some mentally challenged person at Microsoft dictated that no person should have more than 5 current generation Windows devices and you constantly have to switch devices in and out of that group if you want to say listen to the music you are paying or even use the damn store. Well, either that guy got smarter or someone booted him out of Microsoft because Redmond removed the 5 device limit and suddenly all of my stuff works again. Meaning, I can have as many PCs as I want and they all still have my stuff (settings). Plus, the settings even sync across machines - so changes I make to one machine migrate to all of the others.   

I’m sure there was some screwy piracy reason for this stupid limitation but it is gone now and I can almost hear angels sing. You’d think Microsoft would be happy if I wanted 20 Windows machines and now they apparently are. Granted, so is my power utility company so I’ll certainly be keeping that number under 20.  

Native 3D Printing

We’ve had affordable 3D printers in the market for some time now and yet even HP, which dominates the traditional printer market, acts as if they don’t exist. Nevertheless, Microsoft actually built in native support for the things. This is even more amazing from an Apple perspective, as Apple products are typically favored by designers who increasingly need to use 3D printers and even Cupertino didn’t get this done first. Microsoft - which is often seen as a fast follower - is now leading in this powerful area and recognizes that many of us think 3D printing is likely the next truly big thing. Microsoft got here first, so go figure.

Wrapping Up: 

Granted, Windows XP users just wanted a better Windows XP and for them Windows 8.1 isn’t it. But trust me, once you move to Windows 8, much like those that whined and moved to XP after Windows 9x, are generally happy they did (eventually) and then Windows XP starts to feel as old as it really is. So Windows 8 users like me should be excited about this product and Windows 7 uses will likely fall in between. In a few years we’ll look back and wonder how the hell we lived in a world where applications didn’t migrate and 3D printers didn’t exist. Welcome to the beginning of a brave new PC world!