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Beware the MultiColoured fish of Death - Windows 8.1 Preview will definitely move your cheese!

Posted : Wednesday, 24 July 2013 21:04:00

Having recently gone through the pain that was purchasing an MSDN subscription I have been trying to make the most of the resources available to me whenever possible. A few weeks back I was looking to see if I had access to a couple of products and noticed that Windows 8.1 preview was available for download. I’d heard of some of things mentioned – the one that appealed most of which was booting straight to desktop. The other loudly touted feature that I’m not so bothered about is the return of the start button – my current laptop (a Lenovo Carbon X1) isn’t touch enabled so I don’t see the taskbar button bringing anything to the party as there is a dedicated hardware button on my keyboard to achieve the same thing! Anyway You gotta embrace new stuff right (especially when it’s free) so I downloaded the ISO.

It sat in my downloads folder for a while and I forgot about it until last night when I was sitting in Pizza Express at Fulham Broadway. I finished up the work I was doing so I thought I’d run the upgrade while I had my dinner, I had a slight nagging concern that I should probably clone my machine before doing this but that soon went away. I’m working for a client in Chelsea which requires me to work away a couple of nights a week, on balance upgrading the OS on my work laptop with no reliable internet connection and no access to my home server was possibly not the best idea....

I mounted the ISO and ran the installer, after a few seconds I was faced with a little fellow I haven’t seen before but have since come to know as the multicoloured fish of death. This guy....

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I don’t know if he’ll make the release version of the 8.1 update but at the moment he appears on my bootup screen and as the default wallpaper (haven’t got round to changing it yet). To me he has come to symbolise the inherit perils associated with messing about with your OS with non-production releases. The upgrade itself ran pretty quick (completed in less time than it took to eat a Grand Chicken Caesar salad and a bowl of Odono’s Famous(?) Raspberry sorbet) I rebooted and was immediately faced with the familiar metro tile interface – not a massive surprise but what did immediately raise some concern was the massive reduction in the number of tiles present – none of my customisations…… As has become default behavior I tried typing the names of a few of the different applications I use (out...., visua....,manag....,SQL....) and for all of them got “0 results”. The true horror of the situation immediately struck me as I realised my entire installation had been wiped. Not a good situation given that being a contractor does not afford the same tolerances as a permanent employee might expect - being out of action for half a day rebuilding my laptop would not have gone down well. Fortunately I still had ISOs of SQL Server 2012, Visio 2013, Office 2013 and various others on my D: drive. I got back to my hotel and spent the night reinstalling everything I could excluding Visual Studio 2012 as there was no internet connection in my hotel and I was not prepared to destroy my monthly cell-phone data allowance. The next morning I got up at stupid o’clock and went to the office in order to download a copy of Visual Studio 2012 from MSDN. By half past eight I was successfully running the code again – phew! Currently I do not have any of my customizations (start screen, biometrics, etc) that make the windows 8 experience a bit less generic but at least I can work again!

The moral of the story – be prepared to rebuild your machine if you want to try the Windows 8.1 preview – I hope/expect that by the time it’s released it will be an in place upgrade rather than total destruction! On the plus side I now have quite a lean install and am able to boot straight to desktop – every cloud and all that!

 

UPDATE: 25-Jul-2013 10:47 PM

Have lost ability to boot and log on from fingerprint swipe – used to be so cool so hope it comes back with full release. Experience summary: On balance losing Fingerprint-Swipe to Boot was not worth gain of Logon To Desktop.... (Weirdly enough I can boot with a swipe from power off but have to log on again once booted)FAIL!

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