Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Windows 8 really worth it? (Part 1)

As so many spent this holiday gathered together with their families beneath the glowing, festive symbol of their choice, I too indulged in a long-standing tradition:

I installed a new operating system!

Initially, I tried a dual-boot system, retaining Windows 7 while adding Microsoft's newest, flashiest OS.  However, hard drive space limitations quickly killed that idea, so I decided to go all-out, backup everything, wipe the drive and install Windows 8 fresh.

My first roadblock was a minor one, since I was expecting it from my initial Windows 7 install.  Apparently Windows doesn't like my second hard drive (the 2TB jobber that has all of my files) being connected at the same time as my main (boot, apps and games) drive.  Depending on my mood I'll either disable the large drive in BIOS or unplug it from power, but either way that solves the initial problem when done.

Since my Blu-Ray burner died on me, I've been using either virtual drives or USB sticks for my install needs.  Unfortunately, I had a number of problems trying to install Windows 8 from my Kingston 4GB USB drive.

The first was minor and more a result of impatience on my part.  The first screen you will see during a fresh Windows 8 install is of a stylized "Window" with a dark blue background.  No text indicating the installation is progressing and no other indication that anything is happening at all.

I guess I'm used to Windows 7 which is verbose, comparatively and usually gets me to something within 30 seconds.  So, I waited 5 minutes for something to happen before trying the install again.  This resulted in the same issue, so I switched to watching some TV and came back about 30 minutes later to find that I was on a very familiar "language selection" screen.

Shortly after, I was brought to a screen asking for a Mass Storage Driver, which hasn't been a problem since Windows XP.  For some reason moving the USB stick from the USB hub to a port on the PC resolved that issue.

Next, I received an error that an Install.esd file was missing.  I started the install over twice (this time babysitting the initial sequence which, as it turns out, took about 6 minutes to get to the Language select screen), but nothing changed.  Did some research and discovered that using Microsoft's own install tool (found here) to create the bootable USB install was not the best option.  Oddly enough, just directly coping the contents of the image file I was using to the USB drive was the trick I needed to get this working.

Finally, the install started and in this Windows 8 was impressive.  I think it took about 5 minutes from Language selection to a working operating system!

That's a good place to stop this first part of my adventure with Windows 8.  In part two, I'll expound on the various virtues and pitfalls on this new operating system.

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