PC Made EZ Mike Smothers

I have told this story at least once in the past 13 years of writing this column, but it bears repeating. In 1972, I bought my first brand new car; a Mazda RX-3. It was the debut year for Mazda and I had to have one. The list price was $500 less than a brand new Corvette. Three years later when the warranty had expired, a guy gave me $300 for my Mazda and, with the aid of a strong chain, towed it home. I was never so happy to see a car go away!

The lesson here is? Initial releases of almost anything are going to have issues. We are a society of crash test dummies that companies use for testing and research and development.

“So what does this have to do with computers?” I can sum it up in two words; Windows Eight. First of all, there is no “Start” button. When it first boots up, it goes to some screen that nobody can figure out and who knows how to turn the darned thing off, right?

I have heard these cries for help since Microsoft dropped this bombshell on us last November. “But wait! Up in the air; in the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s Windows 8.1!” So is the update, 8.1, the answer to all the woes of Windows 8? Probably not.

In all honesty, I have not tested or attempted to do this update so the following account is from a frantic customer. After a number of attempts to download the update, my customer was able to get it saved to the desktop and then the installation began. Numerous failed installations later, the update finished and the “Start” button appeared in the lower left-hand corner of the “Task” bar. Almost immediately, the wireless Internet connection started a continuous series of disconnections. Any Bluetooth peripherals like keyboard, mouse, etc, would not connect, the printer would not work. Other minor issues cropped up during the next day or so until finally my customer had reached the end of their patience and just wanted to go back to the factory settings. This also proved to be a challenge since previous restore dates had been erased and there was no way to set the computer back to a time prior to the installation of the update, at which time they called me to recover the system.

In all fairness, some of the issues experienced by my customer have been resolved, according to Microsoft and the installation woes may not be the case with every Windows 8 user. However, even though the original release of Windows 8 may not be perfect (an understatement indeed), the update may be something I would approach with caution. I would give it a few months until the Windows 8.1 release is out of beta format and is released for general consumption some time in late 2013 or 2014. If you have the pioneering spirit, go for it. Just remember to back up all your important documents, emails and pictures prior to beginning your journey. Good luck.

• Resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services, based in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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