Tag Archives: Win8

30 Days with Windows 8

Okay folks, here we go, I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, but right now when I have a ton of work to finish and it’s 4:30am in the morning so I have decided it’s the perfect time to blog about my experience with Windows 8 over the last 30 days. This is my non-techie, non-jargon-filled impression of the first 30 days.
I installed Windows 8 Pro somewhere around November 1st. The hardware is the same 5 year old hardware that I had blogged about here. There were some changes like RAM up to 4 Gigs, added a Creative Sound Blaster 5.1VX Sound Card (the on-board one’s gone bust) and a new Power Supply Unit. Now the fact is, I have an upgrade wish-list ready but I also wanted a Surface also! So the choice was really between Desktop upgrade and Surface RT. No points for guessing who won!
Anyway, I must say the software purchase process was reasonably smooth… Would have loved to use Direct Bank transfer (in India), didn’t quite workout but eventually was a able to pay via PayPal!
My machine was running the Win 8 Dev Preview at the time and I was under the impression I would have to install my Vista OEM version first, but the Update Manager didn’t mind and let me buy the Pro without a fuss.
I downloaded the ISO when given the choice (between ISO download or Internet Install. I inherently do NOT trust web installers and given an option select an ISO download ALWAYS). Once the ISO was downloaded I mounted it using Win 8 (Dev Preview) itself and ran the setup.
Couple of mistakes
1. I chose my location as India which set my Keyboard and Dictionary to UK by default. Folks in India beware. If you are used to a US style keyboard better pick the correct localization after selecting country. Getting it wrong on Setup means a lifetime of niggles. I have nearly fixed this but it still shows up when I create new accounts of setup new software.
2. I had nothing to save from my Dev Preview setup so I should have picked Save nothing when the installer asked me. This would have formatted the hard drive. Anyway, there wasn’t much to mess up on the previous installation so the setup went smoothly and I was up and running in about a hour or so.
Initial Impressions
(Now may I put a disclaimer here: These are initial impressions of the release edition. I have tried every Beta/CTP/Preview edition on Win 8 MS release over the past year.)
The Good
– For the legacy hardware it’s running on, it boots incredibly fast!
– After a complete Dev environment setup (using Express editions of Win 8 Developer, Web Developer, SQL 2012 Express and Office 2013 Preview) the performance is way better than my VMs or BootCamped Win7 installation on my 2009 MacBook Pro.
– I have adopted the dual personality Desktop easily and even though sometimes it involves a couple of extra clicks I am comfortable switching between Metro UI and Classic Desktop. All my important applications are pinned to the Task Bar, the rest I get to by simply pressing the “Windows” Key and typing out the name. This flow is exactly the same as I had in Windows 7. So nothing really changed for me.
– Driver Database: Excellent! Actually better than Win 7. It identified the legacy hardware like a champ. In fact there was a small Micro Wireless Dongle that I had bought for my Raspberry Pi. I couldn’t get it to work on the MBP on the Win 7 partition but Win 8 recognized it and got the drivers as soon as I plugged it in and had been using it ever since. So my desktop is also connected ‘wirelessly’. (the onboard Wireless is also working but I damaged the antenna wire so it’s connectivity is pretty weak).
– I found Windows 8 Apps for ESPN Cricinfo and Dhingana (Indian Music channel on the web).
– Visual Studio 2012 stopped acting like a colic child! It works and works and works till too many XAML Designers throw it off it’s kilter. I’ve noticed that after 3-4 Visual Studio instances things go downhill fast! Multiple XAML windows work for a while but may result in Explorer crash (and restart) or make the system laggy! Still the fact I can use Visual Studio reasonably reliable is a big win for me.
– The Upgrade Cost! At Rs. 1999/- It’s a steal and I plan to upgrade my Dad’s laptop and Home Computer eventually with it.
The Bad
– My Dad would need some handholding to shut down the PC! It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had a honking red stop ‘Live Tile’ on the Metro UI that initiated the shutdown process! Having to do it via settings is really a 1 finger salute to Desktop users.
– One BSOD doesn’t really qualify for a bad, but it’s still 1 more than I’ve had on Windows 7 in the last couple years. I hope it’s nothing serious!
– Default apps are incredibly barebones. Take this WordPress app (though not default) initially raised hopes of not requiring Windows Live Writer anymore but that was dashed when I started writing this blog!
That said I am actively working towards making my 2c contribution towards making the Windows 8 store a ‘richer’ place with more ‘goods’…
The Ugly
– Haa… Gotcha! Nothing is really ugly on Win 8 unless you are a Windows 8 Apps developer. That too I am actively working towards fixing 😉
In Conclusion
Haters will hate! The Web 2.0 media-sphere seems to have an unnecessary hostility towards anything Microsoft does and have already written Windows 8 off. I say screw them! As an end-user when you get Windows 8 on a new touch enabled PC, you will really enjoy your PC experience! Even without a touch device I am enjoying my Windows 8 upgrade. If you are buying a Windows 8 device for an older member of your family, do them a favor and spend 5 minutes to show them the new features, it won’t take more than 5 minutes!!!
Windows 8 continues to grow on me as Microsoft’s best OS release so far!
P.S. Hey WordPress, this is an incredibly shitty blogging app! Man up and get some real features in!
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Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview side-by-side existing Windows 7

Okay, so my last article was huge hit (by my standards). I was trying to setup Windows 8 Developer Preview on my Mac and thought of sharing the experience. Turns out lots of people were trying the same Smile.

After a day of playing around, I was beginning to feel the pinch of VM so wanted to setup Win8 on some hardware. I have an existing laptop running Windows 7 and oodles of free disk-space. So decided to give it a shot.

Before you start here is the configuration I start with

1. Core i5 Dell Latitude with 8 Gigs of RAM and 250 Gig HDD with about 200+ Gig free and Windows 7 Professional OEM installed

2. The same Developer Preview ISO I used for my previous post

3. An ISO mounting tool like SlySoft’s Virtual Clone Drive

4. After a long twitter exchange with one fellow enthusiast, I need to put in this extra warning. You CANNOT setup Win8 on a Dynamic partition using the method outlined here. This will work only if you have ‘Basic’ partitioning. How to know what type of partition you have, in the Disk Manager select the hard disk and the first column on the left will show DiskN, Basic or Dynamic. If you see in the images for the Disk Manager below it shows ‘Disk0 Basic’. So proceed only if you have a Basic parition.

Standard Disclaimer: The below worked for me, the Windows ecosystem comes with so many permutations and combinations that it’s impossible to predict if it will work for you.

If Shrinking partitions/Installing Drivers doesn’t sound like things you can do, DO NOT ATTEMPT IT. Hopefully nothing is affected but if your system is hosed in the process I cannot be held responsible.

Use the below steps at your own risk, no warranties here.

All set? Here we go

1. Creating a new Partition.

You need to do this ONLY if you don’t have a partition that can be formatted. If you already have a partition that you can format, format it and jump to step 2.

  • Navigate to My Computer->Manage
  • Select Storage->Disk Management
  • Select the drive that has atleast 20GB free.
  • Right click on the drive and select ‘Shrink Volume’. It will take a couple of minutes for the disk-manager to respond but at the end it will show the following dialog
  • image
  • First Line is maximum capacity of the drive. I am writing this blog on the Win8 server so it’s showing ~20GB.
  • Second line is the size up to which you can shrink it down (not sure how Windows came up with that number but I am sure it can’t shrink it down to that size because there isn’t so much space left on the drive currently).
  • Third line is size of new drive.
  • Fourth line shows the future size of current partition (size after shrinking).
  • Click Shrink. Windows will shrink the partition and you’ll have a Unallocated block as follows

image

  • Right Click on it and select New Simple Volume.

image

  • Follow the wizard and create a new partition ready for setup
  • image
  • imageAllocate maximum (that is selected by default)
  • image
  • imageGive a Volume name identifying it as a Win8 Drive.
  • imageClick Finish.

2. Start Installation

  • Load the Win 8 DP iso by right clicking and Open With->Virtual Clone Drive
  • If the AutoRun comes up don’t start the setup from the AutoRun dialog. Instead select Explore File using Windows Explorer.
  • If you have AutoRun disabled just start Explorer and navigate to the virtual Drive.
  • Here is the kicker. Navigate to G:\Sources\ folder (Replace G: with your Virtual Drive letter), and run the Setup.exe from there. If you don’t do this Window 8 installation doesn’t allow side-by-side install, it will insist on deleting you existing partition and overwriting on it.
  • Once setup starts, point it to the newly created empty Drive as the destination drive. Sit back and get some coffee. All the reboot options default to required settings so pretty much no other intervention is required till you boot up. I again forget exact number of reboots, I think it rebooted thrice for me.

3. Notes and potential Gotchas

  • Since side by side install required writing to the MBR (master boot record) any antivirus worth it’s salt will try to prevent you from doing it. So unfortunately you have to disable the Antivirus for the period of installation.
  • Funnily enough the VM installation found ALL required drivers (except for the generic display). But it connected to Internet etc perfectly. It’s not so rosy on hardware. If you have drivers from your laptop for Windows 7 keep them handy. The initial setup did not recognize among other things – Wireless Adapter, TrackPoint, Chipset etc.
      • Luckily enough I just went to Computer->Properties->Device Manager and for each device that had an exclamation mark select “Update Driver” and pointed it to the folder where all my drivers were. Win 8 picked up the required drivers automatically and applied them. All except the multitouch trackpad which I had to run the Setup for it that came with the laptop.
      • That’s it. You are done. Must say running Win8 (‘on the Metal’) with 8 GB RAM is a much improved experience than running it on a VM with 2GB memory.

With that I end my ‘Setup’ series for Win 8. I promise the next one will be ‘Code to Metal’. Planning to explore WinRT and made a ‘real’ Social App.

Cheers.

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Setup Windows 8 Developer Preview as a VM on VirtualBox running on OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

Microsoft launched the Windows 8 Developer Preview today at the Build conference. If you like living on the bleeding edge of technology and want to play around with the release, you need a computer to do a clean install of Windows 8 DP. Fortunately if you don’t have a spare computer to mess with, Virtualization solutions are there to the rescue.

I usually use VMWare on OSX to run all my Windows VMs. However VMWare failed to install the Win8 DP. So I decided to install Oracle (formerly Sun) VirtualBox solution. It supports Windows, OSX and Linux as host OSes.

I am of course assuming you have already downloaded the Win 8 DP iso from Microsoft.

Once you have VirtualBox and Win 8 DP iso, lets get started.

Step 1

Fire up Virtual Box. It will look as follows:

Step 2

Click on ‘New’

Step 3

Click Continue

Step 4: Give the VM a Name.

  • I have given ‘Win8 Dev Preview 1’.
  • Select OS as Microsoft Windows. Version as Window 7 (64 Bit).
  • I am assuming you have downloaded the 64 Bit ISO from MS.

Step 5: Selecting memory for the VM.

This is a very critical step. If you over-allocate memory the VM setup will fail.

  • I selected the maximum available at the time on my machine (3584 MB) and failed to setup the VM first time. I had to reduce it down to 2048 MB (2 GB). Mind you I have a system with 8GB of memory installed.
  • A good indication of free memory can be had by running Activity Monitor on OSX or Task Manager if you are doing it on Windows host system. Rebooting the system before starting might give you some more memory. But remember if you don’t have that much memory later when you try to start the VM, Virtual Box will simply Pause the VM load unless it has the allocated memory (+some more) to play with.
  • Below screenshots show how to check free memory in your system currently

image

Above image of Task Manager shows 932Mb free on this Win7 System.

image

Above image from the Activity Monitor in OSX shows free memory available = 516 MB

The example values are very less because I am running two VMs at the moment, but point to note is you need to make a guess of Memory to allocate to the VM based on the above Free Memory available values. So if you see 2.0 GB free then assign about 1.5 GB. Hope this update helps people who are facing setup issues.

Step 6. Create a New Hard Disk

Step 7.  Select type of Image

I selected VDI.

Step 8. Selecting Storage Type

Keep it Dynamically Allocated unless you want to block off a
portion of your HDD to start off with.

Step 9. Specify the VM file location and Size.

20GB is default and it worked for me. My installation left
about 6 GB of the 20 GB left

Step 10. Finish VM Setup

Click Create.

Step 11. Win 8 Installations

Now Click on Start

Step 12. Select source ISO file

Here point it to the iso file you downloaded

Step 13. Fun times begin

Notes:

  • Windows installation will start with the usual wizard interface that you can easily step through.
  • One thing to remember, when it reboots the first time around the ISO will be loaded and you will get a prompt to ‘Press Any Key to Boot from CD/DVD”. DO NOT press any key. Wait for it to boot from the
    virtual HDD. If you press any key by mistake, the installation process will start again. Just cancel out and agree to rebooting the system.
  • I counted 3 reboots. May/may not vary for you.
  • I was able to log in to system using my Hotmail account.
  • Give it a couple of minutes to connect and get all details and also do initial tile setup.
  • 2 GB of memory doesn’t make it a spiffy system.

UPDATE: Some folks have had a hard time in-spite of the tutorial, so that got me thinking and I realized that between the setup failing for me the first time around (that I attributed to lack of memory above) and me getting it working, I also did some configuration changes to the VM that are different from the default shown in Step 10: So here are the final settings that work for me (click to expand). Notice I have enabled Acceleration, given it both the CPU cores to play with (default is 1 only) and given it a healthy dose of Graphics memory. For your system, keep an eye for the Green Line for each setting, don’t stretch beyond the green line in any of the settings. Again, virtualization is tough job simply because of the sheer number of h/w software combinations possible. So if it’s not working for you, sorry to hear that.

VBFinalSettings

UPDATE 2: I just noted on twitter today this site had a very pointed solution to Virtual Box issues on Win 7 http://www.kombitz.com/2011/09/16/status-0xc000025-error-when-installing-windows-8-developer-preview-on-virtualbox/

You can try the above if you are facing the same issue.

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