Windows 8.1 Update

HewasagoodmanIt’s been a while, sorry.  Hunting for a (IT) day job just flat out sucks in this economy.

Then my darling wife got me a Nokia Lumina 1020 Windows phone.   I’ve been going crazy with the Nokia, getting all nutty with picture taking and what not…It’s really a camera with a phone in it Smile.

To be honest with you, there has been a few shoots that I have just put my 5dMKII down and went to the 1020 for it’s ease of use and picture quality.

My Surface Pro is still my primary device and combined with the 1020 Windows Phone I seldom have to sit at the desktop anymore.  There’s nothing like doing stuff from the easy chair or outside in the fresh air.  My desktop is where I get down and dirty with Photo Editing and now learning C# (Visual Studio and VS Express for Windows Phone).

BTW: Want to write a Windows Phone App?  Anyone can do it, check out You have to have an MS account and register to the dev site, but it is so easy anyone can do a simple Windows Phone app that they can use on their phone and share with friends.  Do a good enough app and you can put it in the Windows Store.

Anyways this is about the Windows 8.1 update.

Note: It would appear that Microsoft has pulled Windows RT 8.1 update for the time being.  Here’s what PC world has to say about it.  My Surface updated fine, so I must have been one of the lucky ones.

The Windows RT 8.1 update is available once again.  MS stated that they have resolved the issue that had affected 1 in 1000 Surface RTs.

I was hesitant to update only because, hanging out in the support forums, I heard they were screwing up the Windows Photo App. Sure enough they dropped being able to see your Facebook and Flickr photos in the app.  Story goes (but they didn’t say it outright) is that it was for political reasons.  The New to Windows 8.1 Facebook app is pretty killer and photos browser in the app works for me.

So I said to myself, self, go ahead and update the Surface Pro and if I don’t like it I could leave my desktop at Windows 8.  So I updated my Surface Pro to Windows 8.1.  Whoa, some very cool tweaks have been made to the OS.  So much so I updated all Windows 8 computers in the homestead.

I have updated: My monster homebrew desktop (AMD Phenom quad core), My Surface Pro, the better half’s Surface RT (Windows RT 8.1 update) and an ASUS i3 Touchscreen laptop.  Not a lick of issues for any of them.  The process does take an hour or so (it was about the same on all computers/tablets) to download and go through the setup motions.

The system will reboot about 4 or 5 times and you will sit through a bunch of screens that say “we are setting up a few more things for you…”.

Once it gets through all the updating you will be prompted to agree to terms, then will be asked for your MS account password.  In our house we all use MS Accounts; I don’t know how the update would behave if you are just running a local account with Windows 8.

The update does not appear to have goofed anything up between my Surface Pro and the mounted SD Card I have in there.  My Libraries are all intact across all my pcs and perform as they did before the update.

Note: I was clicking around and found that Windows Live Photo Gallery errors out and will not open.  I didn’t put too much time into checking for a fix.  But if you use Windows Live Photo Gallery as your primary means to catalog Media, I might wait on the update or check to see there are fixes. 

Note: Windows 8.1 update is not an automatic update like Defender or security patches (I have seen a lot of questions about this).  You have to manually kick off the update. It will download and install to your pc.

The update is via the Windows App Store but most will not find it there on a Windows 8 machine, but you can find it on the MS download page It was smart enough to know if I was updating my Surface Pro or Surface RT.  It also knew that I have the Media Center add-in on my Surface Pro and Desktop (oh, I haven’t upgraded my Media Server yet).

Yeah, new Tile sizes…

The first thing that will happen is you will accidently slide up from the bottom and see a new Customize button. Clicking the customize button will let you do all kinds of neato things with the tiles.  You can still grab a bottom of a tile to customize it that way but the new function lets you tap each tile one at a time and customize them.  Naming Groups is easier now as well.

Depending on the App you will be able to choose Large (mostly Live Tiles), Wide, medium and small for tile sizes.  This is pretty cool as we can cram more stuff on our start screens.


Start Button

For those Jonesing for a Start button, there you go.  They have added a Start button in Windows 8.1.  It really does nothing more that switch you between the Start Screen and Desktop mode.  The good thing (and it has always been there) is for us IT guys and tinkerers; if you right click on the Start button you will see a context menu with all those tools we are used to when we want to get at the guts of a machine.  The Start button is available on the Start Screen and Desktop taskbar; just hover your mouse in the bottom left corner of the screen and poof there it is.

Personally I do not miss the Start button as “All Programs” on my past computers was a serious mess just like all the icons all over my desktop (Which is why I will not start in desktop mode as pointed out below).  Once you get used to just typing on the Start screen you can find things faster then anyone trying to find something in “All Programs”.


Oh Lookie here, for those that can’t let go you can start in desktop mode. While in Desktop mode right click on the taskbar and choose Properties.  Click the Navigation tab and Check When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to desktop instead of start.


I’ll play with it for a while and let you know my findings in future posts.

Doh! Forgot to mention.  When you update to Windows 8.1; the Windows Mail app, Calendar App and People hub are all updated for the better.  Two Bing apps will also be added to your Start Screen.  There will be a Bing Health and Fitness app and a Bing Food and Dining app; seriously check them out as they are really cool.


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