I’m not usually one for making pie-in-the-sky promises on any drunken night in general, let alone New Years Eve. This time though, I had something that I kinda probably needed to do, as much for my customers as myself. You see Microsoft has now stopped manufacture of Windows 7 (on the same day as Windows 8 was halted too), their headline Windows product is now Windows 8.1, which they class as a separate product from the confusingly similarly-named Windows 8.
And, after installing Win 8.1 some 50 or so times now, then quickly modifying the GUI to operate like a traditional Windows OS instead of that stupid Metro touchscreen interface, I’ll admit that 8.1 is a decent OS with some quality security features. It’s stable & once it’s personalized, is easy to navigate. In short, nothing like the original Win 8.0. Eeewww, I still feel ill when just thinking about that thing.
& then there’s me, like a ostrich/dinosaur, head in the sand, stuck on an OS that in PC terms is nearly prehistoric. I’ve been steadfastly refusing to move on from my trusty Win7, especially not to an OS that starts with Windows & ends with 8. My initial experience with that awful POS product was not a good one (and I do know how to adapt to new software quickly). My summary review was short, sharp, cutting & succinct. Also true & correct, as validated by Microsoft when they killed off Windows 8 on the same day as the 3-year older Windows 7 product. I called Windows 8 “a suicide note” & have not changed my opinion.
With the 8.1 rewrite however, I’m reminded of the mess that XP was in prior to XP Service Pack 2 – the version you all know as the extremely popular, market-dominating Win XP. No-one remembers pre-SP2, & rightfully so. Although it still wasn’t as bad as Win 8. So in that case, MS updated the original code base. This time round, 8 demanded so much modification that a totally new version was created.
Having dipped my toes in the water, so to speak, with multiple 8.1 installs & the resultant client base requiring very little non keyboard-chair interface-caused support, and the great imaginary concept of time having moved past yet one more arbitrary mark (it’s now 2015) – my curiosity had been piqued, my field testing results were in and time was moving on. In the tech world, time moves on rather quickly indeed.
So my NYE resolution was to update myself, get with the times before I become a Y2K version of an MS-DOS user or MAME addict. Drag myself, kicking & screaming, into the present moment of OS technology. I resolved to abandon my prejudice, to think of 8 & 8.1 as only sharing nomenclature by unhappy coincidence, to install the new OS on my own workstation – the trusty old mid 2010 17″ MacBook Pro 6,1, dual core i7 @ 2.66GHz, 8GB RAM, GeForce 330GT & fresh 750GB HDD, & use 8.1 as my new, every day operating system.
Although I’m fully backed up, I view OS updating as an opportunity to add another snapshot & layer of protection by replacing the existing 500GB HDD with a 750GB drive, fresh installing to that then copying my data across. The 500GB drive gets stashed away separately because of our friend Justin Case.
I read up a little too much on the compatibility of my now kinda elderly Apple hardware with Boot Camp & Windows 8.1, accepting that I’d have to hack my way through the install process. You know the Apple marketing line “it just works”? Well, after hours of USB stick install failures & Windows format rejections, I resorted to the original boot from DVD setup as specified by Boot Camp Utility, with only minor editing done to the Info.plist file that it relies on to approve/reject certain hardwares. 15mins later I was 8.1 compatible, updated and feeling good about it. Note to self: Trust own instinct first.
NYE Resolution – Resolved!
Copying the OEM Mac OS from one disk to another is a breeze, using the built-in Recovery Partition & Disk Utility. It’s a simple matter of a few clicks, when copying is complete (<15mins) then it’s time to swap drives. Now boot up the very same OS you had previously but is now on the new drive, find Boot Camp (Applications / Utilities) click click click, follow your nose, hello Windows 8.1.
So here we are, just 5 days post New Year, & I’m a modern man again. Sort of. The next target requires more than just time commitment – I really should replace what has been a great laptop, it cost $4500 when purchased in 2011 & being so expensive, are fairly rare in the marketplace so it’s difficult to ID a current market value.
I’d have updated already had Apple not abandoned the 17″ chassis, but I do need the Mac OS on an increasingly-regular basis, so I’m pretty much an Apple buyer again. The ideal setup – 15″ Retina i7 MacBook Pro, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD with a Thunderbolt-connected Cinema Display (because even though Retina is UHD, there’s no substitute for inches) comes in a whisker over $5000 retail. Oh man. Maybe if I get clever – Apple doesn’t adjust prices to account for fluctuations in currency and the Kiwi is flying high against the Aussie right now.
Yep, there’s a loophole there. & the topic of my next post!