New Windows 8 system? Hope you're not in a hurry to use it

Summary:Nothing throws water on the out of box experience (OOBE) of getting a new toy than having to sit and watch it update for hours to get to a working state.

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Image credit: Ikea

Yesterday started with excitement only these three words can create: out for delivery. My ThinkPad Tablet 2 was going to be in my hands shortly and I was as anxious as a cat in a catnip factory. Opening the box after it arrived was like Christmas morning, my new toy, er, work system, would soon be rocking my world.

You could cut the excitement in the air with a knife as the tablet powered up. The Windows 8 first boot routine cranked my enthusiasm up a notch as I started to get my precious configured.

Then reality set in as it does with every new Windows machine. My new Tablet 2 apparently sat in a warehouse for months waiting for someone to buy it. That's what I figure anyway, as the tablet flashed an error indicating that the internal battery was depleted so much the system couldn't continue running even though plugged into the outlet. It promptly shut down.

I don't know why Lenovo thinks a dead battery is enough to prevent the system from running properly while plugged into a power outlet. It can certainly charge the battery and run the system at the same time but some engineer in China must have figured they'd shut the tablet down just in case.

My new toy was useless to me until this updating was performed, and it happened so slowly it was like watching paint dry.

I had to let the battery charge to some mystery level while powered off until the system would let me continue the first boot setup routine that was interrupted. My new toy enthusiasm was flagging a bit while staring at the dead screen.

I kept trying to power on several times only to see the dreaded dead battery error before the system died. Finally the tablet deemed the battery charged enough to let the setup continue. Then the real fun began.

Once properly logged in and connected to my Microsoft account I ran a manual Windows Update as I always do with new systems. I apply all Windows Updates, hardware vendor updates, and finally Microsoft Store app updates. This ensures my new system is ready to roll properly for the first time.

The check for Windows Updates unsurprisingly showed 59 available. Most were security updates but there were some others mixed in. I told Windows to apply the updates and then the fun really began.

I have a fast internet connection so I guess the Windows update servers were slammed as it took over two hours to download the 59 updates. That was followed by an hour and a half of watching Windows install those updates. When it was finally finished the system rebooted to apply the updates.

Somewhere in that boot process Windows indicated there had been an error applying some of the updates. I ran Windows Update again and therre were four that still remained. I'm thinking these needed one of the other updates to be installed before they could be applied. Whatever the reason, I downloaded and installed the remaining updates, rebooted again and was ready for phase two of the setup routine.

Lenovo has a nice desktop utility for handling system maintenance so I ran that. After a brief system scan it found several updates including one BIOS/firmware refresh. I ran that and in 30 minutes the system was all up-to-date, including Windows and the Lenovo Tablet 2. 

Once the newly refreshed system had rebooted, I went to the Microsoft Store to apply the 26 app updates that were indicated. It took only a few minutes as Microsoft has done a good job with this part of the Microsoft Store.

All in all it took a little over five hours from hitting the power button the first time until I had a totally updated system ready for action. My new toy was useless to me until this updating was performed, and it happened so slowly it was like watching paint dry.

I have performed the same routine on over a dozen Windows 8 systems and it's always the same. Sometimes it takes a little less time (3.5 hours the shortest for me) but somewhere around this 5-hour mark is standard.

So if you get that shiny new Windows 8 system home and unboxed. make sure you have enough time to get it ready for use. Lots and lots of time.

I plan on installing Microsoft's preview for Windows 8.1 on the Tablet 2 to test it. I figure the Tablet 2 is a good system for putting Windows 8.1 through its paces since I can test the tablet and laptop stuff. It also has a stylus so it's a good chance to see how inking is handled in the preview OS.

Of course that means going through the whole update process again, so maybe I'll wait a while. I'd like to play with my new toy a bit first.

The purpose of sharing this experience is not to bash Microsoft or the OEM (in this case Lenovo). I understand why the OOBE is this way and that it's necessary. It is what it is, and unfortunately for new system owners it's not very good. It's like slamming your hand in the door of your new Ferrari. Making your first trip in your new sports car to the emergency room is not the best of experiences.

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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