I am a Mac user, and there is a reason why I switched to OS X a while back. Well, apparently there is a Windows only program that I have to use. So, here’s an adventure in installing Windows 8.1 on my Macbook Air.
First thing first, I would need an ISO of Windows 8 for OS X’s boot camp. Why Windows 8? I have a Windows 8 upgrade key, and no, Windows 8 key cannot be used to activate Windows 8.1, despite Windows 8.1 being a free update. It’s amazing the things Microsoft went through to make sure legit users are inconvenienced.
Now the ISO itself. Guess what, Microsoft does NOT provide one. Yeah, Microsoft has gone above and beyond to ensure that you rather purchase a new Windows 8 computer. If you have a friend with a Windows 7/8 PC, you are in luck as you can simply download the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant and it will allow you to download the installation set and create an ISO.
But what if you are stuck with only a Mac at your disposal? Well, Microsoft does provide an ISO for the Windows 8 Enterprise trial. (Hint: their link for the 64bit actually will download the 32bit version, and vice versa.) Yes, Microsoft, a huge software company, cannot even put the right link to their software. Just another step to discourage user from downloading an ISO, I guess.
After downloading that and running boot camp, I managed to install Windows 8 Enterprise trial. Can I use my key to activate this into a regular Windows 8? Nope. Apparently this trial version cannot be used for anything other than a trial. But at least I have a Windows installation now that I can use to download Windows 8 upgrade assistant, right? Nope. Apparently Windows 8 was not available for download in my area for some reason. WTF Microsoft? Still, all hope was not lost. I Googled “upgrade windows with only a product key,” and Microsoft has a utility that can download an ISO for Windows 8. Great, progress.
Now that I have a real Windows 8 ISO instead of the trial, I purged the Windows 8 Enterprise trial install, created a new boot camp with an actual Windows 8. So far so good. But then it cannot be activated since my key is an upgrade key. Yes, Microsoft makes sure that you cannot use the product you bought. Good thing there is an easy workaround for this one, using the “rearm” technique. I still had to make a phone call to a Microsoft rep that gave me a set of numbers, but finally my Windows 8 install was activated. So time to update to Windows 8.1. Easy, right?
Nope. Windows 8.1 is available from the Windows store, and Microsoft forces you to download it from the store (no ISO). If you use the utilities I mentioned above, they will tell you to go to the Windows store. Problem is, downloading Windows 8.1 from the store would always result in an error and failing to install. This was extremely annoying as the error happened AFTER I had to wait for the 3+GB download to finish. Subsequent retries forced me to redownload the whole thing again and again. Oh my Lord.
After browsing the net to find a solution, I finally decided to do a “reset” of Windows 8. This is a nice feature of Windows 8. It basically “re-install” your Windows 8 installation without deleting your data. Programs not from the store will be deleted, but it’s still more convenient that having to do an actual full re-install. Problem is, this process uninstalled all the Apple drivers and boot camp, so I had to re-install those afterwards. Oh, and of course there were 92 patches that I needed to download and install for every fresh Windows 8 install I did.
After days of downloading, installing, and installing stuff, finally, Windows 8.1 update from the store managed to run properly. Yes, finally! Such a ridiculous process. Really, does Microsoft expect a lay person to be patient enough to go through all these just to use a Microsoft product?
So Microsoft, if you want people to install Windows from your store like Apple, make sure it fuckin works. If you cannot do that, the least you could’ve done is to provide straight ISO downloads so people can simply do an update the traditional way. But no, you rather have your legit customers annoyed and confused.
There is a reason why I switched to OS X.