Further Adventures with Windows 8

I once went to an estate sale near my house. It was the afternoon of the third day when I finally wondered over there to see what all the fuss was about. All the rooms of the house were arranged in a logical fashion but most of the contents had been stripped to the bone. Only a few crumbs remained. Any hope of finding a treasure that would make you a star on the Antiques Roadshow had faded days ago. This is the feeling that I have when I wander through the Windows 8 Store. All the rooms are there but the contents are sparse.

I realize that the Store for all intents and purposes is still a beta but I doubt there are five hundred apps in the whole thing. Many apps appear to be in other languages which further reduces the number that I would be interested in using. Some apps are just long form commercials—“crapware” that often comes preloaded on PCs—only this stuff has a different wrapper on it. One example is a Kaspersky app that looks like a free anti-virus beta.

Another disappointing app is the Kindle Reader from Amazon. You can’t direct it to your existing Kindle library and can’t add other content to it. Not even pdf files. I downloaded the Windows 7 Kindle Reader and no longer have these problems.

Some apps are great but others are unfinished or even lame. My other complaint is that if I try an app and don’t like it, I can’t find how to get it off my list of apps that want to be installed. One support thread said try going into Power Shell and remove the installer package. …OK; so nobody at Microsoft ever thought of this before? Don’t they have children in Redmond?

Speaking of children, my seven year old wanted a faster computer to play games with his brother. His little XP box could not handle the games in a networked play environment. Command & Conquer Generals and Diablo II were ok but Minecraft was beyond what his little PC could handle. I figured that this was daddy’s excuse to upgrade and give junior the old stuff. My upgrade went fine. Windows 8 didn’t skip a beat with a new motherboard, CPU and more RAM. It booted right up. I did not get a pesky message that my license was invalid and I needed to register the software again. Just for the record both boards were from Gigabyte.

However, getting my son’s computer to run and keep running was a major project. After installing Windows 8 three times from the install DVD and twice from back-ups, I threw in the towel. The motherboard, CPU and RAM from my computer plus the old hard drive I found in the garage did not exist in harmony. I experience corrupted files and bad registry hives. My first thought was that hard drive was in the garage for a reason so I bought a new drive and tried again. The installation still got corrupted. I put a new power supply in the computer and still the files were getting corrupted. Soon the operation system would give me the sad screen of death—a modest improvement from the dread blue screen of death (BSOD).

To get Minecraft to run on Windows 8, I needed to use beta drivers from NVIDIA. I didn’t know if it was the video drivers or the hardware. Finally, frustrated beyond “R-rated” words, I put the Windows 7 install disk in the computer with the intention of wiping the drive and going with a more proven OS. Not satisfied that this was going to work, I rejoiced to see the Memory testing utility as the other choice besides installing Windows 7. I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to run this silly program. The diagnostic program got to 9 percent complete before I saw the message that I needed to contact the PC manufacturer because a hardware problem was detected.

YES Finally I was vindicated. It was a problem beyond my control. I was not sure if the problem was the RAM, motherboard or CPU. I talked to a guy at Fry’s and he told me of a similar problem that he had experienced. He found that the culprit was the motherboard and not the RAM. After wasting a week on this computer already I decided that I was beyond “plug and pray” repairs and opted for a new motherboard, CPU and RAM. After my son went to bed, I assembled the components and then installed them in the case. Then I loaded Windows 8. All while he slept peacefully a few feet away. Things have been great since then.

One last word of advice is that in Windows 8, System Restore is off by default. Turn it on and run it occasionally. While it didn’t help in my situation it might save your bacon with other PC problems. Oh, and good luck finding the Control Panel. When you do, pin it everywhere.