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Several Windows 8 Tips and Gotchas

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Windows 8 was official released last week and personally I wasn’t all that excited after having spent some time with the Release Preview many months back. Anyway I thought I’d make the leap out of pure curiosity and after several days of exposure to Microsoft’s latest OS I can confidently say I’ll never look back.

The main areas that really shine are the performance and usability improvements. Everything runs significantly faster; compilation, application load times, start up, shutdown, etc. And once I’d familiarised myself with the Metro UI I found it a far simpler way to access all those applications that I couldn’t cram into an already overloaded taskbar.

I’ve collated a few tips and gotchas that I encountered in the last few days hoping they may be of benefit to anyone who hasn’t upgraded yet or is having troubles finalising their installation.

No Upgraded Option From Windows 7 Ultimate to Windows 8 Enterprise

This was a bit of surprise as I didn’t want to have to re-install all of my applications, drivers, SDKs and make all the usual development tool tweaks. Still there’s nothing like a fresh install … if that’s any consolation.

Windows 8 Addressed Most of my Drivers

Re-installing all of my laptop drivers is usually something that takes well over an hour. Windows 8 picked them all up with the exception of 3 during the initial install. Thank you Windows 8.

Activation Key Issue

Having downloaded Windows 8 Enterprise via MSDN, and grabbing the product key along the way, I thought I’d be prompted after installation to enter it. Anyhow as I found out I wasn’t prompted and there seemed to already be an Activation Key in place that I couldn’t change. Anyway after some digging I found a resolution to this issue:

  1. Open the Command Prompt with Admnistrator Priviledges – Windows + F then type in “Command Prompt”, then right-click the result and select the “Run as Administrator” option once it appears in the Metro app bar (bottom)
  2. Type the following (or copy and paste) it into the command window, change the Activation Key and press Enter:
    slmgr.vbs -ipk
    
  3. Give it a few seconds after which you’ll get a response and you’ll be good to go

Installing the .Net 3.5 and 2.0 Framework

This was a bit of a surprise given you’d think Windows would have made it easier to get these frameworks installed. Several blogs have mentioned it’s due to your local network’s WSUS settings/network policies. Either way I first noticed this when re-installing good old Fiddler and just wanted it addressed so I could keep moving forward. Thankfully the clever folks who wrote it make an attempt to address the installation for you but unfortunately that failed as well. If you try to do it manually via the “Windows Features” tool you’ll also run into the same problem as it all relates to the same core issue.

So no matter what you try you’ll most likely see this nicely formatted message.

Windows Features

There are several ways to resolve this issue and hopefully you don’t mind the one I’m going to suggest. I chose because it seemed to be a lot simpler than the other solutions. Google the issue if you want to see an array of the other approaches.
So the steps to correcting it are:
  1. Open up the Registry Editor (Windows + R) then navigate to the following registry key. This particular key controls how Windows Automatic updates are handled.

    NOTE: I know this is a registry key change but don’t be alarmed – it’s quite a low impact change and you can always back up your registry if you’re overly concerned. If you want to learn more about what the key does see this useful post, in particular the section titled: “Disabling Windows Update”.

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU
    
  2. In the right pane double click on “UseWUServer”  and change its value to “0” (zero) which will enable automatic updates
  3. Close the registry editor and restart Windows
  4. Open up Windows Features (Windows + W then type in “Windows Features”)

    Windows Features

  5. Tick the option “.NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)
  6. Click OK and proceed with the installation
And then you should be done. You can return your Registry Key setting to it’s original value of “1” (one) if you like.

Helpful Shortcut Keys

I’d strongly encourage you to utilise a handful of Windows 8 shortcuts as they’ll save you a lot of time getting from A to B.

  • Windows = Display Metro Start Screen
  • Windows + D = Displays traditional desktop
  • Windows + C = Opens Charms Menu
  • Windows + Q = Opens App Search
  • Windows + W = Opens Settings Search
  • Windows + F = Opens File Search
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Author: Bernie

I currently live and work in the UK, just outside of London. I've been working in IT for 15+ years and in that time have solved many technical problems via blogs, forums, tutorials etc. and feel like I should be giving something back. This blog post is my way of contributing and I hope it proves just as useful to others as their contributions have to me.

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