Comments 30

My First Look at Windows 8.1

This is the last post on my old computer… probably. The average operational lifespan of a laptop is apparently about  5 years.  The useful lifespan can be as little as 2 years, thanks to an industry that is based on the concept of planned obsolescence.

My laptop just passed that magic 5 year mark and it has become quite crotchety. It often gets up in the morning and can’t find it’s mouse. I have to turn the computer off, unplug it, plug it back in and reboot it. Then it finds the mouse, but it might refuse to talk to the memory stick it was good friends with just the day before.

Last week my laptop decided to issue a gag order on the Internet Security software. I eventually had to let a tech support guy named Raj in India sort the whole thing out. That wasn’t exactly a quick fix, either. I watched Raj work for over an hour, and while I understood everything he did, I sure wouldn’t have had the courage to muck around the registry the way he did!

The writing was on the wall, however, so I started to look for my next laptop. What I thought I wanted, and what is available, are two different things. What is in the store to try, and what is for sale online are two different things too.

In a complete departure from my normal shopping routine, I bought a new computer at the second story I walked into. Then I spent the next two days second guessing my purchase – mostly because I second guess every purchase I make. The Car Guy just shakes his head at my dithering – “It’s not like you have to live with this decision for the rest of your life, you know…”

I have been trying to bond with my new computer. The learning curve has been monumental because the operating system is Microsoft Windows 8.1. I’m only fluent in Windows 7. My experience so far has been sort of like going to the dentist, shopping for a bathing suit, starting a diet and finding a dent in my car – all on the same day.

My Desktop

An early version of my Windows 7 desktop – the sticky notes haven’t taken over the screen yet…

Windows 8.1, I’m sorry to report, has a split personality. The dominant persona is a bossy ‘App’ based creature that wants to tether me to the outside world in order to force feed me content on a page full of  colorful tiles. I’m not all that interested in most of these tiles and apps, however. I want my Windows 7 messy desktop with the links to my programs and my digital yellow sticky notes and my calendar gadget…

Wait! I just found a Windows 8.1 tweaking website that tells me how to get back to a Windows 7 feel. Today is going to be a good day to try out all sorts of things…

Are you a Windows or an Apple person? What version of OS are you using? What does your desktop look like?

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Photos and Stories with a Canadian perspective. My three blogs showcase my main interests: Birds and Bugs; Plants and Places; Current Affairs.


  1. I HATE WINDOWS 8!!! Sorry for yelling, but just the mention of Windows 8 makes my blood boil. My daughter runs it on her laptop and it’s an exercise in frustration for me. In fact, give me my big ol’ clunky desktop any day over a laptop. And what is all this “Cloud” crap? I don’t want my stuff in the “Cloud”. I want it on my darn computer. And I don’t want to have to tell you about the mole on my left shoulder (for security reasons, to be sure) to be able to access it. And, heaven help me, apparently there’s a Windows 10 coming down the pipe. I must be getting old. I hate change. Grrrrrrrrr… Now, are you sorry you asked?


  2. I’m also a bit unsure about Windows 8.1. The split personality sometimes seems like a “worst of both worlds” deal.


  3. My computer is reaching the 5 year mark and I have been looking at lap tops. I dread all that it takes to upload programs from my old machine and your comments on Windows 8 didn’t encourage me at all. Damn!


    • I know what you mean. I’m probably going to have to get newer versions of some of my old standbys… although my computer did come with a new version of Microsoft Office that is good for a year.


  4. Well I’m using Windows 8.1 but it’s not giving me any issues. I use an upper level PC, so maybe that’s why I’m having few issues? Sure – I’m expected to put up with accidentally going to the App screen or accepting that I have to go there to access my emails. But… Isn’t that just part of getting to grips with computers? Nothing to do with Windows, just up to us to find what works for us 🙂


    • I expect my problem is that I am as crotchety as my old computer! I loved Windows 7 when I finally relented and gave up my attachment to windows XP. Windows 8.1 hasn’t generated the same enthusiasm so far!


      • I understand.. My work laptop was upgraded recently and because I use SQL developer for database programming the gave me Windows 7 🙂 Now everyone in my team is claiming that they use SQL developer 😉


        • According to StatCounter, “The growth trajectory for Windows 8.1 has been positive but if current trends continue it will not topple Windows 7 before Windows 10 is launched in 2015″!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Reputedly… Microsoft are going to upgrade all Windows 7 and 8 users to windows 10! Sound like a freebie? It would make sense for them because then they only have one os to support, Apparently Windows 8.1 is being treated as Windows 9. Anyway, we will wait and see 😉


  5. I have os 10 at home, the operation system of Mac is aweful… I use Windows 7 at work. I may retire iMac soon. So, I should avoid W 8.1 (?)


    • I probably would have skipped Windows 8.1 – if my computer hadn’t started to act up. However, it won’t hurt me to learn about this OS – I expect Windows 10 will be somewhat similar to 8.1 in many respects.

      Windows 10 should be out this summer or fall. Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1 users apparently can upgrade to it for free. Microsoft also says: “once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge.”


  6. YIKES! I bet mine is getting close to 7-8 years and its definitely crotchety and takes about 15 minutes to fully boot up. A couple keys are missing, they still work but the tops are gone. And its getting FULL, won’t be much longer before it runs out of space. It runs XP… remember that?!? 🙂


  7. I’m almost at the critical mass stage on my laptop, too. It’s slower than molasses flowing uphill in the winter. I have Windows 8 and I’ve gotten used to it, but still have a hard time navigating around with it. Google Chrome (my preferred internet browser) does not behave well and I don’t know if it’s Windows 8 or my laptop or me. I’ve never had an iAnything but for music, but may go that route because my son swears by his Apple computer. Who knows. The are too many choices–like paint colors or flavors of Greek yogurt. Sheesh! You have to be an expert.

    I bet this really helped you, didn’t it? 😐


    • You would probably be happier with Windows 8.1 (from what I’ve read) and apparently the upgrade is free. Then it is a free upgrade to Windows 10 from 8.1.

      I was tempted to go to the “Dark Side” and switch to Apple, but I prefer the many options of computers that are available in the Windows world!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Margie, I’m with you. I really dislike learning new software. I opened Adobe Elements the other day and discovered the latest update had wiped out my paintbrush with…who know what it is? Now I have to do More googling to figure out what I used to know. Bah Humbug.


    • I’m not sure what to do about Adobe Photoshop Elements. My old version isn’t going to work all that well with the higher resolution of my new laptop. The newest version will probably be familiar, but will require some adjustments – on my part!


  9. Val McKinney says

    Such is the price of progress, I guess. I have Windows 7 on my desktop PC and my office PC, and Windows 8.1 on my laptop. I get along well enough with both systems and don’t really have to think about switching between the two (sort of like being naturally bilingual). But I think W7 is the best option for the office.

    Although my home PC and laptop are both networked through the router, they refuse to even acknowledge one another, much less work in tandem. So, to share files, I have no choice but to store things in the Cloud. BUT the free version of the cloud is not big enough for ALL my files, photos and etc., so I have to have more than one free version of cloud storage from different developers. Pffffft.

    My IT guy was over last Saturday – my laptop had lapsed into a temporary coma – and he told me that, just as Windows 7 was a huge improvement over Vista in that it had ironed out all the bugs, he expects Windows 10 to be a huge improvement over 8.1 for the same reason. That would be sweet.

    I also have a Mac. It’s a really old G4 with some obsolete version of OS. The main reason I keep it is that it has both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop on it, neither of which I use often enough to warrant the price of purchasing anew, but both of which I like to have on hand just in case I may need them again someday.


    • Yes, the cloud issue. My new laptop will likely not have enough storage space for all my files, but I’m not willing to trust the cloud, even if it had enough space. I think I’m going to just rely on the good old ‘sneaker net’ system, with my everyday working files on my laptop, and my backup and infrequently used files on a back-up drive. When I want to share files with The Car Guy, or any second computer we might have in the house, I’ll just pick up the back up drive and walk it over to the other computer!


  10. My wife gave me this laptop as a gift two months back, after my old one retired. I also found the “split personality” of Windows 8 annoying in the beginning, but now I’m getting used to the system. I find some stuff useful in one screen, and some stuff useful in the other screen.


    • I’m starting to like 8.1 now that I’ve begun to figure out how it works. Also, I really don’t want to become ‘stuck’ in the past when it comes to computers and their operating systems. I may never use my cell phone for anything other that the odd phone call or text, but I’m determined to stay on par with the grand children when it comes to knowing my way around a computer!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Val McKinney says

        Just as the grandchildren are your best motivators, they can also be your best teachers. Is there anything they don’t know about modern technology?


  11. I see we have similar issues. Luckily Dave is not in India. I sat right next to him at the Apple Store and he was very patient with me for a solid hour. Wonder if he will be as patient when I make another appointment and ask him the same questions because Imforgot what he told me and I don’t understand my notes.


  12. I bought an Apple III way back in 1980. I liked it so much that when I started a word processing company in 1983, I bought ten Macintoshes. Every one of them were lemons. Apple refused to fix them, so I simply returned them to the computer store, got all my money back, and moved on the PC world. I haven’t looked back, and Apple hasn’t done anything in the ensuing years to encourage me to give them another try. They lost my business for this lifetime and the next.


    • I can see why you would feel that way! What I like about a PC is the huge variety of computers that are available. I don’t think I would be happy to be locked into Apple’s vision of what I should want.


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