The postman delivered two separate items this morning: a magazine and a letter.
The magazine was issue 13 of Windows 8: The Official Magazine. It included the following flyer, as it does with every issue:
'Subscribe for years to come' they exhort. Chance would be a fine thing, because the separately delivered letter contained the news that the magazine has been cancelled. No explanation at all given other than it has been a 'tough decision'. Yeah, right!
But here's the funny bit. They are transferring all remaining subscriptions to a new magazine. Can you guess what that might be? What might be most appropriate for the purchaser of a new PC with the Windows 8 operating system installed?
Yup. You read that right! Windows 7: Help and Advice magazine!
Classy, official Microsoft magazine. Classy! So presumably since this issue coincides with the release of the free Windows 8.1 upgrade the 'official' advice is to hold off that and instead go and install Windows 7?
Actually that's probably pretty good advice, as it turns out.
Oh yeah, and about that Windows 8.1 Upgrade
The good news is that after a huge backlash from developers who pay through the nose for their MSDN subscriptions and early access to Microsoft operating systems and software, only to be told they'd have to wait the same as the general public to get any sniff of the new operating system their applications are supposed to run on, Microsoft decided to let them have access to the RTM (Release-to-Manufacturing) version of Windows 8.1, before its release through retail outlets next month, after all.
Keen to see if the much-touted 'improvements' have actually rescued Windows 8, I tried installing Windows 8.1 on top of the Dell pre-installed Windows 8 Pro softwre on my Dell XPS One (I'm not stupid enough to run Windows 8 on my main workhorse PC - continual switching between two completely different operating systems every time you want to start a new program is a real productivity killer).
The only options the upgrade offered were to retain my data (and lose all my installed applications) or lose everything including my data!
An option to 'keep my applications' isn't offered, although I discovered such an option should be available. A quick question on StackOverflow bore little immediate fruit except a 'downgrade' in my reputation points from some malicious, anonymous little Microsoft shill. My bad for having the temerity to ask how Microsoft could be so stupid as to offer an upgrade that didn't let me keep my applications.
Eventually, thanks to Twitter, I spotted a suggestion that implied Microsoft can't cope with taking an 'en' (English) installation and installing an upgrade that says it's an 'en-gb' (English-British) upgrade.
I think journalist Jon Honeyball, who was suffering the exact same problem on the exact same hardware, summed it up best when he said that something as simple as a language pack being so tightly bound to an operating system install was 'hackery of the worst kind'.
Yup. Hackery of the worst kind. Or, to put it another way, Microsoft business as usual. God help Joe Public trying to upgrade his Windows 8 system when this upgrade hits the shelves next month!
That decision to switch Windows 8 Official Magazine subscribers to Windows 7: Help and Advice suddenly looks like a very canny move!