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Installation Notes for Windows 8.1

Posted on: October 18th, 2013 by JIMMY BALL

I recently installed Windows 8.1, the first major upgrade for Windows 8. Below is my Windows 8.1 installation experience.

Download and Initial Installation

I chose to upgrade a Dell XPS laptop.   Because I use UM Box with Box Sync, I already had my important files backed up.  Next, I connected my laptop to a power source.  Normally, I would upgrade over a wired connection, but as a test, I chose to upgrade over UM Wi-Fi, specifically OleMiss_v2.

To start the upgrade, I clicked on the Microsoft Store icon that can be accessed on the Windows 8 Start Page.   The good news is the upgrade is free.  When the download completed (approximately 2 hours), the upgrade started automatically and took about 20 minutes.

As always, Windows performs a reboot to complete the installation.  This took about 10 minutes to complete, because I chose the customize option.  At the end, I was asked to select a Wi-Fi network.  I chose OleMiss_v2.   Afterwards, Windows prompted me to enter my WebID credentials since those were wiped out during the upgrade.   After entering my WebID credentials, Windows reported I was connected to OleMiss_v2 and the Start Page was launched.

Configuration

It turns out Windows actually reported my Wi-Fi connections status was limited.  Since other portable devices were connected to UM Wi-Fi, I suspected the problem was the result of my upgrade.  After I restarted my laptop, Wi-Fi worked.

Next, the Cisco VPN software was failing.  It needed to be re-installed.  For those who don’t use a virtual private network (VPN) at Ole Miss, VPN software is routinely used to establish a secure connection between your computer and a server on the UM network.   So to resolve, I downloaded the latest Cisco software from vpn.olemiss.edu.   In my case, I let the java installation fail so I would get the link to the Windows installation file for the Cisco VPN software.   Once I ran the installation, I chose to repair my existing VPN installation.   Afterwards, VPN worked.

At this point, I was thinking my laptop will be ok.   I launched a browser and visited Google to determine some of the new configuration options I wanted to enable.  I noticed that my touch pad no longer supported scrolling, and the right click capability was not responding. <sigh>   So, I visited the Dell web site, downloaded the touch pad driver and installed it.   After another reboot, the touch pad  worked properly.

Finally, all was well.   I configured Windows 8 to launch directly to the Windows Desktop and enabled the Start menu on the desktop, similar to Windows 7.    To make that happen from the Desktop, I right clicked on the taskbar, selected Properties => Navigation tab.   It wasn’t exactly what I expected. The logon launched directly to the Desktop as expected but the Start menu did not have the Windows 7  Start menu appearance. Instead, Windows 8 launched the standard Start page.   However, a free product called Classic Shell addresses this need, if you want the Windows 7 Start menu.   I downloaded it and confirmed it worked for Windows 8.1.

Keep in mind there are other features that come with Windows 8.1, so I would not totally rule out an upgrade from Windows 8.  Just be sure to read about some of the enhancements.

Conclusion

I continue to evaluate Windows 8.1 stability and additional functionality.  Should you decide to upgrade to Windows 8.1, hopefully my installation experience will help you prepare.  If you need assistance, contact the IT Helpdesk at 662-915-5222 or helpdesk@olemiss.edu.