As the last post was pretty long, and full on, here’s a bit of a lighter look at the steps I took moving from Win7 to Win8. All information below is roughly in the order I did it, just in case you were wondering…
Upgrading to Windows 8 – Part 2: Windows 7 to Windows 8 – “Tips & Lists”
Things to Back Up:
- Save Game Data
Location will vary, but most Steam games are located @
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata
PCGamingWiki is a great resource for info on where games hide their saves.
- Wallpapers & Fonts
- Passwords & Licence Keys
- Installers & Programs you can’t get back
- Any other data, e.g. your documents, music, pictures, bookmarks etc…
OS Setup Steps & Tweaks
- Check for updates, and then check for more updates… then check for more updates
- Go to Microsoft update site to get Microsoft updates
- Run Windows Store updates
- Change User Account Picture
- Enable menu bar in IE
- Enable “Desktop Peek”
Right-click in bottom-right corner and tick “Peek at desktop”
- Customise power settings e.g. sleep time, hibernate when power button is pressed
- Unminimise menu ribbon in File Explorer
- Enable delete confirmation
Right-click Recycling Bin, open Properties, and tick “Display delete confirmation dialog”
- Set up dual monitors
- Change shortcut arrow icon (so it’s smaller & less intrusive)
- Change Taskbar settings:
- Combine when full
- Show task on screen where located (dual screen)
- Increase jump list to 10 items
- Change timezone & time (yes, it took me that long to realise the time wasn’t right)
- Use KeyTweak to map right Alt to Win-key (because my keyboard at the time didn’t have a Win-key & it’s particularly useful and important in Win8)
- Create shortcuts for Steam games in Start Menu folder
- Add checkboxes to File Explorer
Easily done under View menu of File Explorer
- Show hidden items in File Explorer
Easily done under View menu of File Explorer
- Install collection of custom fonts
- Enable cursor Ctrl sonar
Where the cursor does a little blip when you press the Ctrl key to show where it is. It’s found in the Mouse settings, deep in the Device Settings
- Added button like Start Menu button that brings up Start Screen
- Edit registry to unhide startup sounds, as well as some others, in Sound Scheme settings
- Fix wrong/old drivers, by using one of those driver tools (I can’t suggest one, because they’re all a bit dodgy), and self-research
- Remove all the unnecessary programs from the Start Screen
- Join home workgroup
- Map NAS drive in My Computer
Programs I Installed
- Ninite pack
This is a fantastic tool that lets you choose from a wide array of software to automatically install, all in one go. I used it to install the programs below marked with an asterisk *:
- Login to load extensions & bookmarks
- Set as default browser
- Setup global hotkeys (because my keyboard doesn’t have media keys)
- Adobe Air*
- Set as default for all images (including GIFs)
- Install All Plugin pack
- Restore whole Steam directory (so I didn’t have to re-download all my games)
- Install Metro Skin (just for the LOLs)
- Re-download some games, and patches where necessary
- Google Drive (but I never use it because it does a terrible job of checking what’s more recent)
- Microsoft Office 2010
- Set Language to Australian English in 3 places…
- Setup wallpaper syncing with GDrive
- Adobe Flash
- Virtual CloneDrive (but I didn’t need it, because Win8 has virtual mounting built-in)
- Gadwin PrintScreen
- Network Notepad
- Run Compatibility Troubleshooter to get it to work
- Stripped down iTunes
- Open installer (exe) as archive (using 7-Zip)
- Extract iTunes & Apple Application Support
- OneNote Word Count
- Visual Studio 2012
- Adobe Suite
- Disable ads by setting related parameters to false under the Advanced tab in Preferences.
- Sublime Text
- All Autocomplete
- C Improved
- Case Conversion
- Color Highlighter
- Dayle Rees Color Schemes
- Markdown Extended
- Markdown Preview
- Future Funk – Color Scheme
- Monokai Extended
- Aus Dictionary
- FairStars CD Ripper
- GameSave Manager
- TCC – Tiny C Compiler
- iSkysoft iMedia Converter
- Corel Painter Essentials 4
- Advanced Renamer
- Belarc Advisor
- Quick Restore Maker
Metro Apps I Recommend
News Bento – A news reader/aggregator which allows you to add your own RSS feeds. It also has a wide range of feeds pre-programmed in, which you can search. My favourite feature is that you can create separate live tiles for specific feeds.
- MetroTasks – A really clean and simple Google Tasks app. I’ve been using Google Tasks to synchronise and organise all my Uni work, and much of the rest of my life for a while now and this app is a great interface for that on the PC.
- Windows 8 Handbook – The guidebook that Win8 should’ve come with. This app covers how to do various essential things on Win8, as well as documenting some of the new features. A must-read for anyone interested in fully grasping Win8.
- Kindle – If you’re invested in the ecosystem, or just have a few freebies you’ve picked up here and there, the Kindle app is a solid app that allows you to comfortably read your e-books.
- Facebook – Not because it’s a great app, or anything, but just because (especially if you use Facebook Messenger a lot) it’s much more convenient than the website. That said, it is missing a few things, some even as simple as the ability to poke people. What’s up with that? If you don’t use the Messenger at all, a pretty good alternative might be Vibe for Facebook.
Ebay – Just like with the official Facebook app, it’s not that it’s a great app, it’s just nifty being able to do things without going to a browser. But it too is missing the ability to do a bunch of stuff. And even when it can do stuff, it’s sometimes not as easy as just doing on the website. On second thoughts, maybe forget about this one…
- Readiy – A news reader/aggregator which runs off of Feedly. My favourite feature is that you can create separate live tiles for specific feeds.
- OneCalendar – A Google Calendar app which allows you to log into multiple accounts, so you can see events from them all at the same time.
- If possible, back up your whole hard drive, just in case you find there was something you missed.
- The cloud can be a great place to, even just temporarily, back up your stuff to if you don’t have enough local storage. I suggest choosing a genre of stuff, e.g. save games or photos or work documents, and backing them all up to your chosen cloud storage provider. Some things may actually be more appropriate in the cloud because you don’t really need them all at ones, but you want them wherever you go, e.g. Your wallpaper collection, or GIF collection.
- You have to do a hard shut down for updates to install. This can be done from the command line using
shutdown /s /t 55.
- Using OblyTile, you can create a tile for anything you can make a shortcut for, and decorate it with practically any picture you want!
- If a Steam game doesn’t work, use the “Verify Integrity of Game Cache” function in its Local File Properties. If that doesn’t fix it, search the Community Hub for that game or the Steam Support forums for advice. You may need to update some files. The same can be done for Origin games.
- Learn keyboard shortcuts to make navigating around a bit quicker and easier.
- Much improved File Transfer, with better file comparison options
- More detailed Task Manager
- Startup and shutdown time is super-quick, if you’re using hybrid, which I do except that it won’t install updates on a hybrid shutdown
- I didn’t need to buy a new computer last year, and shouldn’t for a while still because the one I’ve got runs so much better now it’s running Win8
- Apps take forever to load, if they do at all …often crash randomly, while doing basic things. Not a reflection on OS, so much as ecosystem.
- Store is ugly and hard to use
- Scrolling in apps is hit & miss
- Search (for me, at least) is abysmal. Only ever wants to find programs in Start Menu folder, never shows settings.
My advice for those considering moving to Win8 is as follows:
- If you’re coming from Win7 or Vista, and you regularly depend on your pinned programs on the taskbar and/or Start Menu, as well as Start Menu search to find things you use less often, then Win8 shouldn’t be too big a shift for you. The Start Screen can be used exactly like the Start Menu, and on the plus side, you have tonnes more room for pinning programs in a much more eye-pleasing way in Win8. You can still search for programs by simply hitting the Win-key and typing your query, and pinning programs to the taskbar hasn’t changed at all. All the Metro stuff may be a whirlwind you don’t want to step into, but you nearly never will have to.
- If you’re coming from Win7 or Vista, but are one of the rare few who don’t pin programs to the taskbar or Start Menu, and don’t use the Start Menu search, but rather to manually browse through the list of programs to find whatever you’re looking for, then I don’t think you’re ready for Win8. What I’d suggest you do is do a bit of research into how to use some of the things I just mentioned, as well as keyboard shortcuts, and after getting use to all that for a while, maybe consider transitioning to Win8 if you feel there’s a need for it.
- If you’re coming from XP or earlier, where the above-mentioned features mostly don’t exist (although Quick Launch and pin to taskbar are basically the same thing), my suggestion would be, unless you really need to go to Win8 for some reason, the transition to Win7 is going to be much smoother and more familiar for you. Don’t get me wrong, Win7 is still a fantastic OS, with great support and functionality; it’s possibly Microsoft’s best overall OS ever. It does have its flaws, and Win8 does fix some of them, but with it, introduces a whole new world of complications. If you’re not ready for that, roll on with Win7.
- If you’re coming from something that’s not Windows at all, well, Hi there, Welcome, and thanks for joining us…Win8 is probably going to present you with a lot of challenges, so you might be better off with Win7 (see above). But if you’re willing to be patient, learn and take on the challenge, you’ll find Win8 isn’t as bad as some people seem to keep emphasising. It’s actually pretty good.
For a more discussional look at Win8, read my original post, The Largest Leap…