Windows 8.1 – should you care? (plus the wrong covers)

By | October 15, 2013
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Microsoft & Apple are at the same thing (though they’d hate me to compare them like that) – both making big changes to how their systems work.  Luckily I knew about it before it happened, so here’s what’s happening with Windows, before it happens!

Windows 8.1 – should you care?

It seems like only a short while ago that Microsoft brought out Windows 8 – and now they’re bringing out Windows 8.1.  It’s not a fully new version, though, more of a spruce-up.

Windows 8 was a big change from anything before, so I suppose it’s not surprising that there were a few rough edges to fix… here are the biggest changes they’ve made:

  • They’ve brought back the start button – the button you used to have at the bottom left hand corner of the screen that opened the start menu.  It’s still not like it used to be – it just takes you to the main start screen, rather than having its own menu.  But it’s there and there are a few things you can do by right clicking on it as well.

  • It’s all a little bit faster – they’ve tweaked the code that makes it all run to speed it up a little.

  • There are a handful of tweaks to (in theory) make it a little bit easier to learn and use.  For example you used to move a “tile” on the start screen by clicking and dragging, but people kept doing it by accident, so now you right click and drag instead – less likely to happen by accident.

  • It has a fancy version of search built in.  Before, if you searched for (say) photo, it would show you some of your photos, the photo editing app and so on.  Now it’ll also search the web for information about photos and so on.  It’s pretty clever but whether it’ll be particularly useful – well, I’ll have to use it for a while and see whether it helps!

  • If you used the “snap” method to see two apps on screen at once, it works a bit better now.  Before you could only have two apps and one had to have three quarters of the screen. Now it’s more flexible – you can easily have two apps and each have half the screen, for example.

  • They’ve made it easier to use with SkyDrive – their way to store your files on the internet.  This is handy because some Windows 8 tablets don’t have much space on them so storing your stuff online is useful.  But it can be a bit awkward, so if you’re using a normal PC I’d probably recommend turning it off.  That’s pretty easy to do, though.

There are some other changes as well but those are the big ones that jump out at me.

Should you upgrade?  Well, if you already have Windows 8, you can upgrade free, by going to the Windows Store, and I probably would recommend it.  The fact that it’s a little faster and that some of the quirks that made it tricky to use are fixed makes me think it’s worth it.

If you have Windows 7 or earlier, though, and you’re happy with it, I probably wouldn’t bother.

What if you’re thinking of buying a new PC… should you get this or Windows 8?  Well, most manufacturers will be quickly switching to Windows 8.1, so you might not have a choice soon!  But I’d probably go for it anyway.  Then again, since you can upgrade free, if the PC you want has Windows 8, not 8.1, don’t worry.

By the way, the new books we’ve just launched do cover Windows 8.1 (as well as earlier versions) – although Windows 8.1 is not available to buy until later this week, Microsoft let writers and so on have pre-release versions to test and write about.

iOS 7 – Apple are at it too…

It’s not just Microsoft who are at it – Apple have also updated iOS, the system that runs iPhones and iPads.

Like Microsoft, it’s a pretty big set of changes.  The biggest is that they’ve changed the way everything looks.  Most (but not all) things work in much the same way, but it can be a bit confusing since they look different.

I’m also not convinced by the new look – they’ve gone from a fairly subdued, grown up, stylish look to something very bright and garish… the kind of thing you might expect on a child’s version!  (Then again, Alastair’s pretty good using the iPad, so maybe they’re aiming it at 3 year olds…)

(And yes, the new books cover iOS7 as well, if you have an iPad or iPhone.)

Books in stock – oh no they aren’t…

I’d just finished writing about how the new books are in stock – I’d even taken a photo of the books to show you… BUT

New books in stock

But I’d just finished typing that we’d be posting them today when Claire came in with the bad news…  She’d done our usual check of a new delivery and it turns out the printing company got the books mixed up and put the wrong covers on.

So the pile you see is now gone – back on its way to the printing company in Kendal to have the covers taken off and the right ones put on again.

And instead of us posting your orders today, it’ll be the end of the week.

So, my apologies to everyone who’s ordered – it’ll take a little longer than I’d hoped before you get them.

If you haven’t ordered, this means you’ve still got a chance to get one of the first copies as a free trial.  Read more (and if you like, order) here: