Rolling out Windows 8 Client: First Impressions

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A virus found it’s way on to my system through a trojan horse, past all the security & anti-virus software. I went through the process of cleaning up, but I kept finding pieces of functionality that had been negatively impacted. Further, I was getting lots of Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) crashes. This was all on my beautiful Lenovo W510 that I use constantly and that I need for demo’s while on the road. It needed a rebuild.

When it came to doing the work, I planned on a Windows 7 install. It had been working on the machine for about 18 months without any issues at all so I figured I’d just go back to it… But, Windows 8 is coming out. So, for deep technical reasons that I’ll attempt to summarize in this long list of bullet points, I decided to go for trying out the new OS:

  • Shiny

With all that technical mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let’s talk about what’s worked, what hasn’t and what I’ve found to be different.

The first, and most important piece of software that I got running was SQL Server. The install was flawless. I have nothing to report. Install went off without a hitch. Next up, all the Red Gate software suite of tools (for obvious reasons). Again, nothing to report. Everything I’ve tested so far, has run just fine.

I did need to run a special VPN software for connecting back to the Mother Ship, and that won’t install on Windows 8. I’ve had to install it on another machine so that I can run home to momma to get new software installs as they become available (shiny). That was the first real issue.

I’ve got a long list of software that I’ve installed and have nothing to say about. It’s all worked fine. Let me know if you want it.

A few things about Windows 8. Shiny. That out of the way, I’ve noticed a few things. Some of the “apps” that are geared towards tablets & phones behave in quite funky ways when run on a traditional laptop. And, I haven’t found a good way to shut these down once they’re started (like your phone, but this isn’t a phone) other than opening Task Manager (which has received a pretty major facelift by the way) and killing them there. Also, while I hated the recently accessed document list, I did like the list of documents that came off particular apps in the Start menu. I liked this because I was usually working on one document a bunch, a chapter for a book, or a presentation, and I could easily get that opened from the icon. Now, I have to start the program and then find the documents that I want open inside it. Feels very old school.

My laptop is actually running faster (benefits of cleaning out all the crap accumulated from 18 months of testing software), but, the built-in camera is not being recognized by any of the apps. The drivers seem to be out of date. Research suggests this is a known issue. In the mean time, I’m stealing the camera off the kid’s computer.

Some of the new interface is nice. Some of it seems to be a pain in the bottom. For example, it’s hard to shut down. You have to go to the lower right of the screen to get a pop-up and then at least three mouse clicks. I know, I had to do two before, but now it’s one more. Not shiny.

I talk frequently about the need to test your backups. I just tested mine. Prior to the virus I had just set up Mozy to backup my systems files, the important stuff. Well, recovery just worked, but… as I’ve suggested in the past, you need to know how to do a restore. I messed mine up twice and thought I had lost the files from the backup. Turns out everything was fine. Mozy just paid for itself.

I’ve been working with my VMWare machines, no issues. I’ve even tested using Live Meeting. It’s all good. As I get more interesting stuff to say, I’ll pass it on.


  • Peter Schott

    I did something similar – wanted to bring an older laptop up to date and figured if I was going to blow everything away anyway, I might as well go shiny and install Win 8. Using an XPS Gen 2, I fired up the install and attempted an upgrade from XP. It eventually finished, but without wireless drivers and sound drivers. I then had to “fix” the security in the registry to allow those to work once I used a wired network connection to get the drivers.

    After all of that – it runs. It is faster than XP was – noticeably so. I’ve put on the major apps we’ll need and those work. I agree that shutting down is a pain, but I’m going to look at the Power options and see if I can configure the power button behavior to help there. Overall, I like it on that older machine and will probably update it to the new release come June 1. I’m not ready to take the plunge for my work machine, especially if there are issues with things like VPN.

    I appreciate your plug for a backup service. I signed up for Crashplan (runs on server OS’s) and love the service. I haven’t had to restore from catastrophic failure yet, but like the fact that I can pull files and have had to restore some important files that had “disappeared” for my wife. 🙂

  • I haven’t tried HyperV on it yet. All my VMs are still on VMware. VMware is working just fine, but I’m really missing the ability to see the recently access list so I can choose which VM to open without having to open the management window first. I may be pinning that one to my toolbar soon.

OK, fine, but what do you think?