Last weekend I was more or less forced to reinstall, or rather refresh, my Windows 8 tablet. This I had to do because somewhere along the line SkyDrive had simply stopped syncing properly. This in itself almost merits a post actually. Previously when SkyDrive was just an application that you installed separately it was so much easier to fix things. In worst case all you had to do was remove the application, remove the SkyDrive folder and then reinstall everything and let it sync again. Not that this was something I really had to unless I myself managed to screw something up with the PC.
Now however, some genius decided to integrate SkyDrive into the OS. On the surface this looks nice and cool but that assumes that it bloody well works…all the time. As you can see from my experience it does not. Actually I find it unacceptably sloppy programming that you can get into a state where the SkyDrive sync engine just crashes right after boot and that you have absolutely no way to just reinitialize just SkyDrive to a fresh state. Even if that would mean to resync/redownload everything from SkyDrive you should really have a way of re-setting this to get it working again. As it turned out I had to resync/redownload everything but only after first having gone through a long and tedious process to get everything working again.
Anyway, back to Windows 8 Refresh. I thought this sounded pretty okay. Refresh your PC without loosing all your stuff. The problem is that it is not really the case. You do lose pretty much everything. The only difference between Refresh and Reinstall appears to be that you get to keep your data files on the local drive which is next to useless. At best it saves you a few copy back commands from backups or from another PC.
Also, you would have though that Refresh would actually Refresh the current installation, in my case Windows 8.1 to some original state. But no, it simply reinstalls Windows 8.0(!) back to its original state. It doesn’t even preserve basic settings for Christ sake! What is really the point of having all your settings synced then? Under which circumstances are you supposed to benefit from that then?
Now I could have lived with the inconvenience of redoing all my settings and re-installing all my apps (of which not all of them retained their settings). Although a pain in the butt, it is not a disaster, but I also had to download all the bloody updates and patches for Windows 8, which is almost 1 Gb (I am still on a 6 MBps ADSL line while waiting for my fiber connection). Then when everything is patched up you finally get the Windows 8.1 update option in the Stores app and then you are, of course, in for another huge download.
In all it took me most of the weekend (including an overnight download of updates) to get a simple tablet working again. This is again a typical case of the new Microsoft and how they seem to be disconnected from the real world out there. Do not boast about and spend time on features that really serves little purpose. Gradually Microsoft seems to be turning Windows 8, which is a great tablet operating system, into something that is actually useful also for real work as well but by not doing it right from the start they have needlessly alienated a lot of existing users.
I still take Windows 8 any day before any Android crapware not to mention Apple’s we-own-you-and-knows-what’s-best-for-you-ware in expensive wrapping but it just bugs me that Microsoft had to screw the users and themselves with so many idiotic mistakes.