Windows 8.1 is coming out soon and Microsoft is detailing some of the changes that are going to be present. One of the most looked for changes is a return of the start button. This one feature is so missed by users that a booming trade in third party software for add-in start buttons has developed. The problem is that the start button Microsoft is putting back does not mean the start menu is back. Instead clicking this button will only get you back to the Modern UI. This makes the change cosmetic in nature and does not actually address the issue that most people have with Windows 8 and the Modern UI. This is the same as the option to boot to the desktop, if you do not have a real start menu, what is the point. People were not looking just to get the start button back, but the actual start menu with the ease of access that it brought. The rest of the improvements all appear to be related to the Modern UI and show that Microsoft is simply not read to listen to reason or even the consumer.
Day one was a lot of prep work. The first thing I did was to download all of the drivers and utilities from Asus’ web site for my tablet. This was just in case I needed them to get everything working. Next was to back up my favorite tablet by using a system imaging software. I used the Acronis software that comes with the Kingston SSD Now kits. This worked great an in a little over an hour I had a full block level image of my old system.
Next step was the actual installation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the touch screen worked even during beginning phases of the install. Under Windows 7 (when I ran a full installation) I did not get full touch screen access, I had to have a keyboard plugged into one of the USB ports. This small victory had me in good spirits as I watched the installer do its job. The actual install only took about 20 minutes and boot time was amazing right around 8 seconds from power on to login screen. This is to be expected with a Core i5 470UM, 4GB of RAM and an 80GB Intel SSB under the hood. Once the installation was done I started to load up drivers….
Here is where I ran into my first issue (and one that took almost 6 hours to get past). After installing the HotKey Service I would get an error at every boot. “Missing Asus ACPI Driver, Please install Asus ACPI Driver” The only option was OK, but you had to click it about 10 times before it would stop. I tried everything. I uninstalled the driver, reinstalled, ran compatibility mode, everything. In the end I had to disable automatic updates and set it to “download but let me chose when to install them”. Once that was done I had to install Microsoft Update (in place of Windows Update). Suddenly there was an update for the ACPI Utility Driver. I ran this update and the error went away.
Now, as this driver is needed for the hot keys on the device I figured we were all good to go. I was wrong. The button that brings up the on-screen keyboard does not work, The “home/application scroll” button only works like CTRL+ATL+DELETE and will not get you back to the start screen, and as a final item the volume buttons do not work. However, it is the keyboard and home button that is a deal breaker. This single item has stopped everything in its tracks. Without this functionality you get stuck in any of the Apps run on the Metro UI. If you open up the Weather App, there is no way to get back without the start button or a home button. I am hoping to get in touch with Asus and see if there is anything they can offer in the way of help, after all Microsoft is testing this so there has to be a way around it. For right now I cannot find it and cannot move forward much without this option.
So for now we are stuck with the following items working;
The basic tablet features (touch screen etc)
Full Video Support
Here is what is not working
Full Audio (no microphone or line out)
We will continue to plow on and work to get this operational before the time runs out on the developer preview. Check tomorrow night for our experiences with Day 2 – Installing productivity applications and hopefully a resolution to the hardware issues we are having.
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Today marked the day that Microsoft released Windows 8 to the general public. We have tinkered with several builds of Windows 8, but so far we have not been all that impressed with what the guys in Redmond have come up with. Our big issue has been the lack of functionality and usability in the new MetroUI. In our last public coverage we had to switch back to Windows 7 after only three days or testing. So now let’s take another stab at getting Windows 8 running on current hardware, namely our Asus EEE Slate EP121.
Microsoft is no stranger to controversy and throughout its history has made some pretty bad decisions that still come back to haunt them. Now, it seems that Microsoft might be getting ready to make an error that will trump all of the others in its past. We are talking about Windows 8 and the say that Microsoft appears to be closing in its ecosystem and also the platform as a whole. This move to a closed system has not only raised concerns with end users, but also with developers who see the move as a serious issue.
So after our look at the installation of Windows 8 on our Asus EEE Slate EP 121 we have gotten through the mess of installing drivers that are not meant for our device and getting some basic applications installed. We are now ready to take a look at the Metro UI and some of the features built into the Windows 8 platform. Let’s kick off with how fast this new OS starts up from a cold boot.
We have been tinkering around with Windows 8 for a couple of weeks now and while we are still not found of the Metro UI (especially on the desktop) there are things that do make it an appealing operating system. Still there are some things (as there always are) that will cause issues. Back when Microsoft made the move from Windows 98 to Windows 2000 many games did not like the transition to needing a Hardware abstraction layer. Microsoft dropped more than a few patches in the first month to adjust and correct a lot of this. The same thing has pretty much happened since then even with the move from Windows Vista to Windows 7. So, how does the early preview of Windows 8 fare in gaming? We took seven games and tried them out on Windows 8 to see how they would work.
As we have been working with Windows 8 and Windows 2012 server we have become increasingly concerned about security. Although Microsoft has claimed that they have improved security through items like the locked UEFI boot process there are still glaring omissions in security that keep popping up very recently it was noted that despite the claims from Microsoft of a more secure login process the password hint is exposed in the SID database and easily recovered remotely. We also found that users’ contact lists are also left in the open (and in plain text) and available to anyone that can gain remote elevated privileges; which is what almost all Viruses and Malware try to do.
If you have been on the internet then you have heard about the possibility of Microsoft releasing a new “fix” to Windows in the form of Window 8.2 This new release is supposed to be an extension of their work to revamp Windows 8 into something that consumers will actually want. Now, most people will acknowledge that Microsoft needs to make a large number of changes to Windows 8 to make it more palatable (and usable), but are they really working on an 8.2 release when they just pushed out 8.1?
Yesterday the internet had an unexpected (by some) show of nVidia’s Mobile 28nm Kepler GPU. This was done through the review of an Acer Ultrabook. Although the desktop flavor is still some time away (maybe end of April or early May) we now can start to make guesses about how kepler might compare. Of course the real performance of Kepler is anyone’s guess. We decided to continue on with our coverage of Windows 8 x64. This time we dive into the nVidia side of gaming with an nVidia GTX 470 dropped into our testing rig. We used the same games and, of course, we shot some video of how well it worked out.
Microsoft is doing the hard sell on Windows 8 features and in particular they have made a valiant effort to push past some of the bad press (and consumer grumbling) about Metro UI and the way many of the apps are locked down. We have talked a little about this and even touched on it during some of our gaming coverage. Although you can launch “desktop” applications from the Start Screen (The Metro UI interface) you are not actually running them there. The only apps that will run in Metro UI Mode are ones that are downloaded from the Microsoft Store. This limits the functionality of the OS in many ways. Sure you can get some applications to interact with each other, but even then there are limitations.