A first, jaundiced look at Windows 8.1 RTM

Hopes that Windows 8.1 RTM would correct some of the problems from earlier builds prove very wrong

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I'll scream the next time I see a tech article that says "Windows 8.1 includes a Start Menu." If you've been following along, you know very well that there's no Start menu in Windows 8.x -- never has been, never will be. In its place, in Windows 8.1, we get a Start button, which doesn't do much except propel you over to the Metro Start menu or let you shut down. As I wrote earlier, it probably took two interns about a day to write it -- and that includes half a day for getting the Windows logo right. But I digress.

For somebody like me, tasked with writing a book explaining all of the "Blue" follies, Windows 8.1 presents all sorts of "opportunities."

That said, temper my grousing with the knowledge that Windows 8.1 is, in my opinion, a must-have upgrade to Windows 8.

If you're thinking about taking Win 8.1 RTM for a ride, understand that there are reasons why Microsoft doesn't want you to see it. Over on ZDnet, Ed Bott does an excellent job of explaining why Microsoft is keeping the final release of Windows 8.1 secret. Ed's list of reasons sounds like Microsoft is exercising plausible deniability. "Oh, you had problems with that API call? Don't like that feature? Why, you shouldn't be using that yechhy pirated software, silly."

If you're a developer, a consultant, or someone who will be actively involved in evaluating Windows 8.1 -- much less planning for its deployment -- you might want to consider taking a walk on the wild side and downloading the RTM bits. That isn't an official InfoWorld position or even a ringing endorsement for piracy from me. It's just reality. I figure there are maybe three Windows developers who won't want to see the RTM build, and two more who can't figure out how to download a torrent. That's five. Everybody else in the Win8 support ecosystem is in a position where they need -- or at least want -- the bits.

Microsoft restricting access to the RTM bits is, to use Bill Gates' favorite phrase, "stupid." I'm glad they found light of day less than a week after the RTM announcement.

If we were looking at a hush-hush product with fabulous new innovations -- an iPad, say, or a Facebook -- I could understand the need to keep the unwashed developer/consultant/enthusiast masses at bay. But let's face the facts, shall we? We're looking at the dented and rusted carcass of a 20-year-old Ferrari, welded to a shiny new tow truck. Meh.

At least the torrent distribution method is infinitely superior to Microsoft's download servers.

This story, "A first, jaundiced look at Windows 8.1 RTM," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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