Crazy Eights? Come on, Microsoft!
Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update. Even I was confused at first about how they differ, and the mess about 'no more updates unless you install the Update update.' Hopefully, this will clear it all up...
What's My Name?
Microsoft has never been good with nomenclature. Outlook Express turned into Windows Mail, which turned into Windows Live Mail. Meanwhile, Hotmail became Outlook.com. But there's still a thing called "Outlook" which is not the same as "Outlook Express" or "Outlook.com".
Windows Live OneCare (which started life as Windows OneCare Live) was a security tool, eventually replaced by Microsoft Security Essentials. MS also has for years had "Windows Defender," an anti-spyware scanner. But Windows 8 introduced another completely different thing called Windows Defender, a real-time anti-malware tool, which is actually just a renamed Microsoft Security Essentials. Oh, and there's also "Windows Defender Offline" (different from both of the other "Defenders"). I could go on and on...
So it's no surprise that Microsoft has made a mess when it comes to naming Windows 8. Gone are the days of "Service Pack 1, 2 or 3" that we had with previous versions of Windows. And to replace that, the folks in Redmond seem to have gone with an "8.x" format, which sounds better at first. Windows 8 was released in October 2012. Windows 8.1 appeared in September 2013. But the next big release wasn't Windows 8.2 -- it was called Windows 8.1 Update 1 -- much to the confusion and consternation of the masses.
Consumers and IT pros are getting weary of Windows 8 updates, which have appeared more frequently than they have in past versions of Windows. The radical paradigm shift of the original Windows 8 was difficult enough for many users; they may just skip these frequent updates, and that would be bad.
Windows 8.1 was an optional update, but the Windows 8.1 Update is mandatory. It was pushed automatically to Windows 8.1 users starting in April, 2014. Those who never bothered to install Windows 8.1 won't get the Windows 8.1 Update, but you can download Windows 8.1 manually from the Windows Store.)
Which Windows 8 Do You Have?
If you're not sure whether you have Windows 8, 8.1, or the Windows 8.1 Update, check this link for help on how to identify which version you're running, and how to apply the Windows 8.1 Update if for some reason it hasn't been automatically applied yet.
Microsoft warns that Windows 8.1 Update is “compulsory;” if you don’t install it, you won’t be able to install any future feature updates, although you will continue to get security-related “critical” updates. Consumers have until June 10 to install Windows 8.1 Update before this policy takes effect.
Some have argued that the term “Update” is just Microsoft’s way avoiding its own policies on deployment of “Service Packs” which also make unavoidable changes to the core operating system. Business users get months of lead time before Service Packs become mandatory, but Redmond wants Windows 8.1 Update enforced now. Whether that’s true or not does not matter.
Don’t be reluctant to install either Windows 8.1 or its Update. Yes, both make minor changes to the radically different Windows 8 user interface you struggled to learn. But their major changes actually make Windows 8 more familiar to Windows 7 users; easier for mouse-and-keyboard users; faster and more productive overall. Microsoft isn’t really in business to make your life miserable, although it seemed that way when Windows 8 first debuted.
What's in the Box?
Windows 8.1 restored the Start button that many users sorely missed, and enabled users to boot to desktop mode instead of the Start page. Windows 8.1 Update goes further, automatically detecting whether a machine is a desktop or laptop, touch-screen or non-touch, and booting to desktop or Start page accordingly. The user can override this automation and set a specific mode for a given device.
I've been running Windows 8 on my laptop, and since these updates were applied, it functions very much like my desktop running Windows 7. If you install the free ClassicShell software, which restores all the familiar features of the Start button, you'll hardly notice the difference.
The Windows Store app is pinned to the desktop’s taskbar under Windows 8.1 Update. Also, any Store app can be pinned to the taskbar. This may offend curmudgeons who wish the new-fangled Windows 8 stuff would go away, but it is a good way to integrate modern apps with the desktop experience.
There are other blendings of new and old in Update. Right-clicking on a Start page tile opens a familiar context menu of options instead of the ribbons at top and bottom of the screen. Title bars and the time-honored minimize/close buttons now appear along the top of the screen when you open a modern/Store app.
In short, there is no reason to avoid these updates and every reason to install them. Bottom line, if you're going to use Windows 8, make sure you've got all the latest updates, and you'll experience a more familiar and usable Windows environment.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 May 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Crazy Eights? Come on, Microsoft! (Posted: 22 May 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved