New windows – takes some getting used to

I got a new laptop for Christmas. It came with Windows 8.1. After struggling with this OS for several weeks now, I think I will keep it. But let me tell you the suggestion I read on one blog site to go back to Windows 7 was starting to look like the only real solution.

My laptop is a Toshiba. It screams with a 4th generation i7 process, 8GB of RAM and a 1T 5400 RPM hard drive. Then we get to the OS! It didn’t boot out of the box. Any normal person would have taken the computer back to the store. But since I am an IT guy, I was determined to fix it myself. I got it to boot with a little research on Toshiba’s support site and through Google. I got most of it working and took it on our trip to Palm Springs. There were certain things that didn’t work right. So I continued to tinker with it after we got home.

First off the “Microsoft Store” wouldn’t open and I couldn’t get to certain settings without using run commands as a back door. As I said though, I was determined. There is a lot of advice out there. Some of it will break your computer even more. I was able to make recovery DVDs that would restore the computer back to “factory defaults”. Big mistake. Took it right back to where I was when I opened the box, no boot!

Luckily, I had taken notes on what I did the first time and was able to get it back up and running. Still no “Microsoft Store” and some of the “built-in” apps were not working either. These apps are called “Modern UI” Microsoft apps. My personal name for them is not very nice so I won’t repeat it here. Basically they are the little tiles that come up on the new “Smart Start” screen. These tiles can be made “live”, which means they display the latest Facebook post, or the weather, or the news, depending on what the app is for….

At first glance it looks like a foreign land to me.

New Start – Windows 8.1

One has to remember that this operating system was originally designed for a phone or a tablet. The translation to desktop leaves one wanting. But bless their hearts, in 8.1 we get back a windows start button, that lets us do some of the old things but not all. Again, I am getting used to this now. In fact it is sort of fun and now I actually have a use for the windows key on the keyboard. This key is magic. It takes you place once you learn all the shortcuts.

I opted not to get a touch screen. I have had so much trouble using my tablet I thought I would never want that on a laptop. Now I am having second thoughts. The built in mouse has a mind of its own and that darn “Charm Bar” pops up all the time. The solution was to attach a regular wireless mouse. I am much happier.

Charm Bar – You only get one but this illustrates my frustration with it.

Oh, I am way off track here. I did finally get all the apps to work. Remember that funky new start menu? Well under there you can run command prompt with admin rights. Then you run this command:

powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\WinStore\AppxManifest.xml

This brings back the windows store!

Then I ran this command:

powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\ImmersiveControlPanel\AppxManifest.xml

This brings back the “PC Settings”.

Then I ran this command:

powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\Camera\AppxManifest.xml

This made the “Camera” work.


Now here is the catch to all of this. Not all my favorite apps I use on my Android are available in “Windows Store”. For example “Yelp”. There is a similar app called “Let’s Eat” that pulls in Yelp reviews. Unless people start using this the apps are not going to be there. I am guess that like everything else Microsoft, it will eventually become mainstream. (Sorry Google!). There is a chance it could go the way of OS2 Warp. Probably most of you are too young to remember that debacle.

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