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John Paul Cook

Windows 8.1 Installation Notes Part 2

After installing Windows 8.1, there are several tricks and customizations worth considering if you develop software or want a user experience more like Windows 7. One neat feature is the popup menu shown below that appears after pressing the X key while holding down the Windows key (thank you Matthew Roche for that tip).


Figure 1. When in desktop mode, Windows key plus the X key displays this helpful menu.

Enabling Administrative Tools on the Apps part of the modern UI is easy to do. Bring up the charms bar and select Settings and then select Tiles.


Figure 2. Select Settings on the charms bar.


Figure 3. Select Tiles to see the option for displaying Administrative Tools.

After selecting Yes under Show administrative tools, you’ll be able to see a new Administrative Tools section on the Apps part of your modern UI. If you have a particularly large screen (mine is a 2560x1600 30” monitor), you might want to also select Yes underneath Show more tiles.


Figure 4. Tiles options.


Figure 5. Administrative Tools appearing on Apps menu.

Windows 8.1 has essentially two Internet Explorers, one for the modern UI and one for the desktop that works like IE in Windows 7. This creates an inconsistency in the browsing experience for people who use IE both from the modern UI and also from the desktop. By changing the settings in the desktop version of IE, you can have it appear when browsing from the modern UI. By doing this, you’ll have the same open windows regardless of where you start giving you a consistent, uniform browsing experience throughout Windows 8.1.

From the desktop experience, open Internet Explorer. Left mouse click the Tools menu, which is the icon that looks like a gear. Select Internet options.


Figure 6. Desktop version of IE, Tools menu.

On the Internet Options dialog box, select the Programs tab. Under Choose how you open links, select Always in Internet Explorer on the desktop and check Open Internet Explorer tiles on the desktop.


Figure 7. Internet Options, Program tab.

When you go back to the modern UI, web pages will now open in the desktop experience Internet Explorer.

I installed Windows 8.1 on a solid state drive (SSD) on my desktop. Whether you have a desktop, laptop, or tablet, SSDs provide excellent performance but tend to be lacking on capacity because of the cost. My desktop has a 512 MB SSD and multiple spinning hard drives with larger capacities. My Surface 2 tablet has a 32 GB SSD and a 64 GB micro SDXC card. I want to save the SSD for programs and offload large files (e.g., installation media, video) and Office files elsewhere. By changing properties of key folders, I can redirect the storage of files from one device to another.

My desktop presents an interesting case. It was a Windows 7 machine with all kinds of files large and small stored on the C drive, a spinning disk. Windows 8.1 was installed on a new SSD as the C drive. On Windows 8.1, that spinning drive containing Windows 7 is mapped to drive letter X. By repointing the Documents folder from C to X on Windows 8.1, I’ll keep the SSD from getting cluttered with my files and I’ll automatically be pointing to the existing files I was using under Windows 7. If I edit the files under Windows 8.1, the latest versions will be available on Windows 7 when I choose to boot into 7 instead of 8.1.

By default, your profile is protected from access by others. Although I have a profile named John on both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, John on Windows 7 is protected from access by John on Windows 8.1. That’s why I used Windows Explorer to navigate to the Users folder on the hard drive (drive letter X on my machine) containing the Windows 7 installation. Then I selected the folder named John. A dialog box appeared telling me that I didn’t have permission. I clicked Continue to get access to the folder. There are other approaches I could have taken, but I took this specific approach because it provided a nice visual representation of the progress, which was quite slow, taking about half an hour.


Figure 8. No permission to folder on the Windows 7 hard drive.


Figure 9. Green bar showing progress in obtaining permission to access files in the selected folder.

To move the Documents folder to a new location, go to Windows Explorer and select Documents. Select Properties. Select the Location tab. Specify the new location and click OK.


Figure 10. Selecting the Properties dialog box for Documents.


Figure 11. Moving Windows 8.1 Documents to a new location. Specify a new location and click OK.


Figure 12. Click Yes to complete the move.

If you have files in the old location that match file names in the new location, you’ll see a warning dialog.


Figure 13. Warning dialog to prevent files from being overwritten.

After these steps, files under the Documents folder under my profile are no longer on my SSD and instead are on the much larger hard disk where Windows 7 is installed. On my Surface 2 tablet, the secure micro SDXC card is drive letter D. A D:\Users\John\Documents folder hierarchy was created and the Documents folder was relocated to that location.

Another handy trick is something that comes from Windows 7. You can create a folder on your desktop to access all of the settings on your machine. After creating the folder, rename it to something of this format:  anyNameYouWant.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}


Figure 14. Renaming a desktop folder to settings.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

After renaming the folder, it will have a different icon signifying its special purpose.


Figure 15. settings folder icon

Double-click the settings folder on your desktop to see a list of all of the administrative applets on your computer.


Figure 16. Windows 8.1 settings all in one convenient place.

Windows 8.1 has a screen capture keyboard shortcut that was used to make some of the screen captures in this blog post. If you press the print screen key while holding down the Windows key, your entire screen or screens will be automatically saved into the Screenshots folder found in your Pictures folder. If you’re using a tablet, you won’t have a print screen key, so you should hold down the Windows key and press the volume down button to capture the screen into your Screenshots folder.


Figure 17. Screenshots folder.

This blog post was written using Windows Live Writer, which is part of Windows Essentials.


Figure 18. Windows Essentials download page.

I recommend only installing the Writer program because Windows 8.1 comes with newer or alternate versions of the other programs.


Figure 19. Selecting only Windows Live Writer.


Figure 20. Windows Live Writer has a dependency on earlier versions of the .NET Framework.

Published Wednesday, January 01, 2014 2:41 PM by John Paul Cook

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a Technology Solutions Professional for Microsoft's data platform and works out of Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. He volunteers as a nurse at clinics that treat low income patients. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Opinions expressed in John's blog are strictly his own and do not represent Microsoft in any way.

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