'Almost finished' build of Windows 8.1 still a mess

Now that Windows 8.1 Build 9471 is widely available, it's time to take another look at the painful changes in Windows 8 'Blue'

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Microsoft wants you to put everything on SkyDrive, so it can charge you for the privilege. Of course it wants to limit sharing through the Public folder. It's hard for most Windows users to even find the Public folder in Build 9471. But if Microsoft is so hell-bent on extracting money for SkyDrive, why does it continue to use Windows libraries -- not folders, but libraries -- for the Metro Photos, Metro Xbox Music, and Metro Xbox Video apps?

As one commenter noted, if you show libraries in Windows 8.1 x64 Build 9471's File Explorer, they'll show up when you do a File > Save As in 64-bit apps. But the libraries won't appear when you do a File > Save As in 32-bit apps, including Firefox. That's undoubtedly a bug, but the bug-hunting season is getting mighty short.

More missing features

As I documented last month, the Windows Experience Index is gone, probably shot down in embarrassment at the low WEI score given to the Surface Pro. Facebook and Flickr have been eviscerated. I should probably say "defenestrated."

I didn't notice last month that half of Windows Easy Transfer is gone, too -- you can import data into Windows 8.1, but you can't copy it out. I have no idea what Microsoft is going to do to help people migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. Undoubtedly, there's something waiting in the wings. Perhaps a journey through SkyDrive? Now there's a bit-bulging possibility.

Finally, I note with some consternation that all of the Windows 7 backup and restore programs are gone in Build 9471. They're in Windows 8, but not in Windows 8.1. We've known for quite some time that the "ghost" system image backup (the one that makes a full copy of any hard drive/volume) was going to disappear in Win 8.1. What took me by surprise is that all of the other Windows 7-era backup tools, which were in full force -- if a bit hard to find -- in Windows 8, are gone, completely, in Windows 8.1: No Windows Backup; no Backup and Restore Center.

Even System Restore Points, the old system rejuvenation fallback of an entire generation, get turned off by default in Build 9471. You won't get any Restore Points unless you turn the feature on, manually.

I guess that's progress -- but the tools won't be around when Win 8.1 users want to restore a backup created in Windows 7.

Let me end with a caveat. All of these observations pertain only to Windows 8.1 Build 9471 -- a pirate, leaked build of an as-yet-not-shipped operating system. Anything and everything could happen between now and when Windows 8.1 is released to manufacturing.

Unless, of course, Win8.1 has already RTMed. In which case, Microsoft has until Oct. 18 to come up with a patch.

(Tip o' the hat to AR.)

This story, "'Almost finished' build of Windows 8.1 still a mess," 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.

Correction: This article has been amended. The original article contained an error about using a Microsoft Account on more than five devices and about the disappearance of Windows Easy Transfer.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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