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The Misadventures of Quinxy von Besiex truths, lies, and everything in between

20Dec/120

Hate Windows 8? No, you don’t! You just need Start8 from Stardock!

start8With a cost of only $15 to upgrade recent computers from Windows 7 to Windows 8, many have been and will be tempted to upgrade.  If you're like me you'll find Windows 8 more frustrating than sublime.  Cobbling together a touch friendly UI meant for tablets with a decades old UI meant for mousing was an ambitiously lousy idea.  That having been said, everything else about Windows 8 I like; it is built upon the internal and external improvements of Windows 7.  But how could I return my Windows 8 computer back to the sanity of my mouse-friendly Windows 7-ish UI?  After trying some alternatives (including a month spent with the disappointing  StartMenuX), I finally arrived at the solution that was right for me: Start8 from Stardock.  For a very reasonable $4.99 you can (optionally) bypass the new Windows 8 start screen and return to a desktop with a wonderfully close facsimile of the previous Windows  start menu.  I've been a user of various Stardock software for a while, and though I've had my frustrations with some buggy and over-reaching software, when they get it right they really get it right, and this is one fine example.

Since going back my productivity is back to where it was and I feel saner than ever.

^ Quinxy

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2Dec/122

How to Activate a Clean Install of Windows 8 with an Upgrade Key

If you used your Windows 8 Upgrade media to install a clean copy of Windows you've probably discovered by now that Windows 8 won't activate, telling you that your key is for upgrade and not clean install. Don't fret, there is a simple solution which does not require you pointlessly installing an old copy of XP, Vista, or Windows 7!

The easy three-step solution is:

  1. Modify the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\OOBE and set the MediaBootInstall value to 0 (zero).
  2. Open an elevated command-prompt (run command as admin) and execute this command: "slmgr -rearm"
  3. Reboot!

Enjoy!

I'm not sharing this tip as a way to cheat Microsoft out of a dollar, I'm sharing it because anyone experienced enough to be installing a copy of Windows 8 on a clean hard drive has surely owned enough Microsoft computers over the years to legitimately qualify for the upgrade.  With Windows XP through Windows 7 qualifying I know in the last 12 years I've owned and still have legal rights to at least 10 - 15 installations (mostly from retired computers).

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15Nov/122

Installing Windows 8 on the Viliv S10 Blade

I have owned the Viliv S10 Blade, a Windows-based 10" convertible tablet, for a few years and until now it was a device desperately looking for a suitable operating system.  Windows 7 came installed on the S10, but its bloat, overhead, and lack of touch friendly interface made the Viliv S10 no more useful than a ruefully overpriced bargain basement netbook.  Flash forward several years and the world has come to embrace the tablet, and Microsoft has re-imagined its operating system with a finger-driven touch interface in mind.  I was eager to see if Windows 8 could finally make my Viliv S10 what it always should have been.  The good news is that the Windows 8 experience on the Viliv is quite a bit better than the Windows 7 experience; the bad news is that the device is still too laggy (CPU too slow and memory too low) and unable to deliver the fluid, effortless experience you've come to expect from even the lowliest Android or Apple tablet.  Nonetheless, if you've got a Viliv S10 you'd be a fool not to squeeze a better experience out of the convertible tablet you already own.

I am hoping to save you the pain I experienced trying to get Windows 8 installed on the Viliv S10 Blade, so read on!

Installing Windows 8

The Viliv S10 Blade has no CD/DVD-ROM drive so you will need to either do a download-based installation of Windows 8 or you'll need to copy the contents of the Windows 8 DVD onto the Viliv (the DVD contents is approximately 2.8 GB) from a DVD drive shared from another computer or via a USB memory stick or SD card.  When you're ready, begin the install.

The first thing you'll need to decide is what type of install you'll do, will you keep your user data or your user data and applications/settings. In the ideal world you would want to keep your applications/settings but I tried repeatedly to do an in-place upgrade keeping all my applications and settings (as well as user data) and was unsuccessful.  During each install it would hang during the "Getting Devices Ready" step, hanging at 81% (I left it there for 23 hours on one install).  After each failure it restores your computer to its pre-install state.  I tried uninstalling various software, removing various drivers, and disabling various services within Windows 7 before restarting the Windows 8 install and nothing made a difference; the installation wouldn't get beyond "getting devices ready".  Ultimately I chose the option which kept only my user data and the install completed successfully.  If your install behaves as mine did you will need to also try the option of keeping only user data.

Once the installation is done you will discover that you have no Internet connection.  Do not attempt to turn on the wifi device with the Fn + F2 key combination.  Proceed to the next section.

Calibrate the Screen

You will likely find on install that the touch screen is uselessly mis-calibrated.  Fortunately the fix is easy, just use the touch pad to go to the Control Panel and do a search for "calibrate" and then do the touch screen calibration.  Your touch screen will now work properly.

Fixing Wifi

Three things prevent your wifi from working after the Windows 8 install.  1) Your wifi module is off (and thus Windows doesn't detect it), 2) No suitable drivers are included with the Windows 8 install files, and 3) the available Windows 7 wifi driver will not work without a "patch".

Step 1: Turn on your wifi module.

Press Fn + F2.  You can verify in Windows Device Manager that the device is no on, it will appear as an unknown device.

Step 2: Download Necessary Files

By way of this post I found the trick to getting wifi working.  A Viliv S7 owner shared the necessary files and his description of the solution (written in Korean).

Go to his page (on another computer) and download the following files: s7_fix_.zip, Wifi_Driver.zip,  and Add_Take_Ownership.reg; do a keyword search on the page and you will find the links to the files.  Copy these files to your Viliv via SD card, USB stick, etc.

Step 3: Execute Add_Take_Ownership.reg

Double click the registry key file Add_Take_Ownership.reg to merge it into the registry.  It will create a new item called "Take Ownership" when you right click a file or folder in Explorer.  This will give your user access to that file or folder.  You will need this.

Step 4: Install Wifi_Driver.zip

Unpack the Wifi_Driver.zip then go into the Device Manager.  On the Marvell and choose "Update Driver Software..." when prompted in the device installation point to that folder.

Step 5: Apply the Patch

Go into Explorer and right click the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder.  Choose the Take Ownership option from the context menu.  With that done, unzip the S7_fix_.zip file you downloaded and copy the contents of it into C:\Windows\System32\Drivers (overwriting the files already in that folder).  You may want to make a backup copy of the affected files, just in case you want to restore your machine to its original state.

Step 6: Enjoy Your Wifi!

Your wifi should now work!  If it doesn't, try a reboot.

Installing Graphics Driver

The default Windows 8 install uses a generic Windows graphics driver for the Viliv which lacks the graphic acceleration and screen resolution options of the Intel GMA 500 graphics card in the Viliv S10.  It is a very good idea to install this official driver from Intel:  Intel GMA 500 driver 8.14.10.2030 09/16/2010 .

To install you need to unzip the download to a folder and set the compatibility mode of "Windows 7" before running the Setup.exe.  The install will then proceed normally.

Installing Additional Viliv Software / Drivers

Though none are necessary, you may want to install additional Viliv-specific drivers.  In general Windows 7 drivers are compatible with Windows 8, so this official source of Windows 7 Viliv S10 drivers is the place to download them.

Conclusions

I've been running Windows 8 on my Viliv S10 Blade for a couple of weeks now and the experience has been mixed.  Part of the blame can be placed on Windows 8 which is a curious hybrid operating system, trying to be both entirely touch and mouse friendly while being exclusively neither.  You are routinely forced to use apps of both flavors to perform tasks, Windows having provided their new UI approach for only a small subset of routine OS and administrative tasks.  The largest frustration with the Viliv and Windows 8 is the lackluster performance, most of the new Windows Store delivered apps work quite well but only if the operating system isn't doing something at the time, and in-app actions like loading resources can make the experience painfully laggy.  I suspect if the Viliv had an additional gigabyte of RAM the experience would have been dramatically improved.  Still, compared to my absolutely miserable experience of the Viliv with Windows 7 I am at least pleased that my Viliv now once again has a purpose in life.  Hope you find renewed pleasure in yours as well.

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5Jun/121

Microsoft Leaves .Net 3.5 (and earlier) support out of Windows 8?!?!

In a moment of anything but wisdom Microsoft has decided to leave earlier versions of the .Net (dotnet) Framework out of the Windows 8 install, including only 4 and 4.5. The reason they give for this peculiar decision is their desire to have a smaller OS install footprint. While less disk space lost to an OS install is a very noble goal, I can think of few things worse to leave out. Any user with Windows 8 who subsequently downloads and wants to use an application written against the 3.5 or earlier .Net runtimes will be forced to install (over the 'net) a reboot-required multi-hundred megabyte installer (supporting .Net 3.5, 3.0, and 2.0). Few things deter a potential user of your software more than a lengthy download and a forced reboot.

Adding insult to injury is that I am quite sure their smaller OS footprint goal is little more than an attempt to defend against one of Apple's (and others) easy anti-Windows attacks. Unless Microsoft has radically altered the way they handle Windows Updates, their Driver Store, WinSXS, temporary files, etc. then whatever savings they claim at initial install will be gone in a few months; the Windows directory of my 1.5 year old computer is a whopping 37 GB.

Why couldn't Microsoft leave out MS Paint, MS Write, Solitaire, audio recorder, Pinball, or hell, even Internet Explorer, and include the full range of .Net support? Now us poor developers are going to need to once again need to distribute versions of our software targeting multiple runtimes just to ensure most users don't have to do the absurd .Net installs.

^ Quinxy

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