Monday, February 18, 2013

In Setting up a new Windows 8 System…

In less than three week’s time, I have now had the opportunity to set up Windows 8 systems for home users. Both happened to be Dell systems.

One was for a family friend. The other was for Lavie who had become frustrated with display issues on her “old” Windows 7 laptop.  It appears that in the act of opening her monitor lid  over the past few years, the display had gotten flaky and started flashing red and other signal color lines from time to time.

The only reasonable home-user OS options for these Windows-only folks was to bite the bullet and move to Windows 8.

The new local-user account setup process was pretty simple. Not painful at all.

Neither was impressed by the Start interface and needed to be directed back to the “desktop” experience.

To make that simple (and solve 95% of their learning curve challenges with Windows 8) I downloaded and installed IObit StartMenu8 Free.

I set it to load the desktop immediately after boot.

Instantly they felt back at home and the anxiety passed.

I showed them how to return to the desktop if they got back to the Start.

Both wanted to continue using MS Security Essentials. OK. Although I did follow a tip on “How to Add “Scan with Windows Defender” to the Context Menu in Windows 8” I found over at How-To Geek.

I am also still running (and recommending despite the chatter (link-1 & link-2) MS-SE on my Windows 7 systems. I am trying out the Bitdefender Antivirus Free product on my virtual Windows 8 system to check performance and operation. So far so good.

Sure there were application installations, updates, user-data migration work to be done, etc. but that was pretty much it.

I did not install Java. They didn’t need it and the security issues have made it too risky for me to recommend installation on home-user systems unless they have a specific Java application they need. Neither did.

I did not install the Flash plugins. IE 10 comes with it’s own Flash plugin as does Chrome.

Lavie needed some help finding a tool to help her deep-dim her laptop display for those late-night fan-fic reading sessions. These are adjustments beyond the hardware-based brightness settings.

  • f.lux - changes the color warmth of the display automatically depending on location/time-of-day. We loaded this and she really liked it.
  • DimScreen - 1 Hour Software by Skrommel - - Loaded this one too.
  • Dimmer - Nelson Pires. We added this one also, but Lavie liked the navigation options in DimScreen a bit more.

Dell has a track-pad sensitivity manager to keep the cursor from jumping when thumbs hover over the pad, but we also tried the touchfreeze - Utility for Windows. Worked great as well as the Dell solution.

Too easy? Want more?

I’m still in no hurry to upgrade Alvis and my Windows 7 systems to Windows 8. I don’t see the need (yet).

But if a new system comes with Windows 8, it’s no biggie anymore.


--Claus V.


FF Extension Guru said...

Interesting. I played with Windows 8 a couple weeks back at my local Staples store, wasn't very impressed. I was going to install it on my spare computer via Virtual Box since I get 2 free copies through my school. However, my spare PC opted to kill its motherboard than be subject to Windows 8, even in a virtual setting.

That being said, though I will keep this article in mind if I do have to get Windows 8 (or is it Window 8)?

Alvis said...

Lucky for you I have no desire to switch to Windows 8. I just don't like all the tiles and what not. Its a PC, not a phone...

Love you Father-Unit!

Anonymous said...


Could you recommend a windows 8 laptop? Price 400-600. Thanks.

Claus said...

@ guru - if you haven't gone hand's on with Windows 8 yet, then I do recommend you play with it a bit as I do in a virtual machine; VirtualBox and VMware Player are both free and now easily support both x32/x64 versions of it if your hardware host OS system can.

All the to-do aside, it is a nice OS once you get past that Start page stuff.

--Claus V.

Claus said...

@ Alvis - Thanks for your support!

cheeky little monkey...

--Claus V.

Claus said...

@ Anonymous - Hard to do without getting some idea of its intended usage.

Lavie got this Dell system from Amazon:

Dell Inspiron i15N-3636BK 15-Inch Laptop

She uses hers for some web-cam stuff, mostly web-surfing, not a gamer, office documents, on-line streaming videos, etc. It's an i3 and adequate for all those tasks. It has a "standard" chicklet keyboard (no extended number-pad).

Amazon also has some more punchy Dell's with i5 processors, more graphic power, and the larger size/keyboard.

I've been stuck on Dells lately. It's a personal preference but we did look at some Lenovo models. Lavie has been an HP/Compaq girl and I've torn a few down to replace components. Not saying that as a complaint but just that that has been her thing up to now. I haven't used any ACER or ASUS systems so I really can't say on those.

My recommendation is to go to a BigBox store and just spend some time getting to know the laptops, how the power-connecter fits, how the keyboard types feel, screen size, some of more subjective things.

Then notes in hand, compare prices on Amazon.

Just about any i3/i5 powered processor, 4-6 GB of RAM, 350-500 GB size hard drive, and HD-quality display would probably work fine for most personal/SOHO situations.

WiFi/BlueTooth/USB 2 & 3/DVD features are standard on most everything now.

Good Luck.

--Claus V.

FF Extension Guru said...

@Alvis - as much as I don't care for Apple, I will give them credit for having the sense to keep their desktop and their mobile OS separate. I suppose Microsoft's grand plan with Window 8 is to get everyone to eventual ditch their PCs for the Windows 8 Phones or Surface Tablets...

Anonymous said...


Thank you for answering my post concerning recommending a new laptop. I also have been looking for a Dell laptop. Not sure if I want to stay with Windows 7 or move on to Windows 8.

Claus said...

@ anonymous - You are welcome!

I wouldn't be worried about Windows 8.

The only reason that I'm not upgrading my own and Alvis's (Win 7) laptops to Win 8 is that they are running absolutely fine, provide the level of OS stability and performance we need, and the systems have been "baked in" for some time now and I really can't find a compelling reason to spend hours transferring applications/data/etc to a new Win 8 system.

My brother did upgrade his systems from Win 7 to Win 8 and it was a real headache as he has lots of "stuff" like we do.

That said, Windows 8 is a very good overall system and I really am jealous (as a geek) for some of the under-the-hood kernel-level changes and upgrades it brings over Win 7. As fast and responsive as Win 7 is, Win 8 is more-so.

My advice is that if you are comfortable with Win 7, and looking to get a new system, don't hesitate to grab it with Win 8.

Then load on an application such as IObit StartMenu8 Free to help you get used to that whole "Start" page thing.

I think you will be pleased with the decision.


--Claus V.