Windows 8 was meant to put an end to OS rot. It’s unsuccessful, says Jon Honey ball: I recently had to do a full “refresh” reinstall of Windows 8 on my Dell XPS One 27 touch screen desktop. I was trying to install a driver package for an HP color LaserJet all-in-one device, but every time I tried to run the installation it reached 90%, then failed with a generic “oh dear”-style error message. I tried ripping out everything that could be causing the problem – old drivers, old apps, the dried-up sandwich behind the processor fan – but to no avail.

To be fair, I should point the finger of blame at HP. It completely deserves its dire reputation for horribly complicated installation routines, which are a nightmare to perform and manage, and impossible to deal with if anything goes wrong. Something in my computer was upsetting this installer, but it couldn’t tell me what it was, which simply isn’t good enough.

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(We’re finding a fresh Windows 8 machine takes more than a day to patch, even if you don’t have to sit in front of it the whole time)

However, I’m going to point another finger at Microsoft,

Since Windows 8 was supposed to be the operating system that didn’t suffer from OS rot, that nasty degradation of OS performance that occurs over months and finally requires a clean installation to sort out the mess. At least with Windows 8 there’s the Refresh Installation option, which is like a full reinstall except that all your data is left in place. Your apps continue to work, too, providing they’re Metro apps – any “old-fashioned” Win32 apps will need to be reinstalled from scratch.

In the end, I ran this option on my Dell and it proceeded with no main issues. After the obligatory reboot, I tried to do an update and found myself in Windows 8 update hell. No fewer than 65 updates were required, followed by a few more – then more still. And a few more. Get the picture? In my lab, we’re finding a fresh Windows 8 machine takes more than a day to patch, even if you don’t have to sit in front of it the whole time; the last Apple I booted and started, a new Mac Book Air took 40 minutes.

Microsoft has to make this better. It must roll up changes into quarterly incremental and make them available. I need to be able to take a virgin Windows 8 installation and roll a “summer 2013” update across it, followed by a small handful of deltas after that. I’ve lost entire days to machines that require a bunch of updates, only to discover that after the obligatory reboot they need more. And more again. This has to stop.

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