Friday, August 17, 2012

Windows 8 RTM first impressions

Let's just say that trying to use the new interface (AKA the interface formerly known as Metro) on a desktop machine will only cause legacy desktop and laptop users to flee in droves to a Mac. At least Mountain Lion doesn't pretend to be a mobile OS on a fixed machine. At least on the Mac there is no huge learning curve coming from XP or 7. I've used Windows since 3.0 back in the early 90's and this is the most radical design departure I've ever seen. Will MS break the every other major version is a dud pattern with this?

My Installation Experience
I started by installing Windows 8 x86 Enterprise RTM (32 bit) in a Oracle VirtualBox VM. Simple enough in theory - well there were two install choices and neither of the clearly said install a new OS, but I finally figured out you select the lower one, not the upper one.

Got through to the point of selecting a login. I decided to go with the email address login instead of a local login. When I install the x64 version, it's going to have a local login. I presume you can add a local login somehow if you can find where they buried it. Suppose you have no local login and your internet is down - can you login? something I'm going to have to try.

After I finally got to the first screen, I saw it all looked very similar to the Windows 8 consumer preview, so I at least knew what to do. It requires a mouse click and move to drag the Space Needle and Mt Rainier picture up. Now here's my first complaint: I design my programs to be Section 508 compliant. How is click and drag compliant? a disabled person with a desktop or laptop PC who can't use a mouse is hosed. I've actually talked with people who can't use a mouse and use the tab key. For me it's not intuitive how they get past that first screen. So I tried the 'any' key and it worked to get to the login screen. Then I could login.

Problems with entering a Product Key in Windows 8 Enterprise

So right away I switched to the desktop, then moved my cursor to the lower right, selected Settings, then Control Panel (there must be a way to do this with using the mouse). I saw the usual things in Control Panel so I selected System and went to change the Product Key to match the one I was given in MSDN (I had thought it strange that I wasn't asked for one during install, but remember this is a Enterprise). I couldn't find the usual change product key selection, so I tried activating it. Oops. Got an 0x8007007B error code.

A quick search found a site called that had the answer. And I learned a couple new things there too. First was that you have to get to the Command Prompt. Sounds simple enough. Every NT kernel OS since NT 3.1 had an easy way, usually found in accessories. Guess what? no start button, no accessories, no command prompt...grrr...I take no credit for the following section, windows7hacker came up with this but it's in my own words.

How to get to an Administrative Privileges Command Prompt
1. If on the desktop, move your cursor to the lower right, a control bar for lack of a better description will pop out from the right, select Start. Back you go to the Start screen with all the humongous icons.
2. Here's the wierd part: just start typing command or cmd and the search menu automatically appears on the right with Apps listed on the left. At the top was command prompt.
3. Here is the tricky part RIGHT CLICK on the Command Prompt and a new control bar slides up from the bottom with five options, one of which is Run as administrator (I never would have guessed) - click on it, answer the UAC message with Yes and you're there. Something recognizable!

How to enter your Product Key from a Command Prompt
1. Do the steps above.
2. put in this command and press Enter: slmgr.vbs -ipk YOUR-ENTRPRISE-KEY-HERE
3. You will get an acknowledgement popup window.

How to Activate from a Command Prompt
1. from the same admin command prompt, enter: slmgr.vbs -ato

Restart Windows 8 and that part is done - you can use it now - well at least sort of use it depending on your experience with this interface.

So that's where things stand today. I'll be testing NetScanTools Pro and Wireshark on it soon. Remember you have to start those installers using Run as administrator or the WinPcap driver won't install.