I downloaded the ISO of Windows 8.1 Preview, but only once I’ve installed version 4.2.16 of Oracle VirtualBox I was able to setup a virtual machine for it – being an IT consultant I can’t afford any downtime with my physical hardware, so I will only ever test software in a virtual environment.
The initial installation of the Operating System went by in a breeze and is very similar to the Windows 8 installation – I’ve opted for a virtual machine with 2GB of RAM and 50GB of disk space. During installation, the installer downloads all updates to the Operating System, ensuring that the latest and greatest are installed.
The express settings would cater for probably 95% of the users – and the settings are catering for an as safe as possible system, with automatic updates being installed, tracking disabled in Internet Explorer thereby improving the user’s anonymity, and making use of page prediction to preload pages in Internet Explorer. Devices and their software required are also automatically installed.
The default option for Windows 8.1 is to use a Microsoft account. This allows for the automatic setup of Windows Mail, Calendar, People and Windows Store, enabling access to all purchased applications as well as the contacts for the account. Favorites inside of Internet Explorer are also synced to the account, ensuring access to these, no matter which device are used.
Windows 8.1 also features tight integration into SkyDrive, which allows the user to store documents and pictures in the cloud, as well as the settings of the device. Once installed, the synchronization settings of SkyDrive can be customized, which includes the quality of the pictures uploaded as well as which Personalization Settings and Application Settings should be synchronized.
Once installed, you are directed to the new Start Screen of Windows 8.1. Firstly, there are 4 tile sizes available now, which is fantastic. Also, quick access to the “All Programs” is provided through a little arrow that pops up on the left hand side when you hover underneath the left-most bottom tile. Also, each group can be “named”.
And this concludes today’s posting. Keep an eye out over the next few days for more information on my experiences thus far.