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

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.

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

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  • Only us geeks!

    Only us the geeks manually run all Windows update just after buying a machine or reinstalling Windows. Most users just use the thing and let updates run in the background and reboot when Windows asks them to.
    • RE: Only us geeks!

      I will say only one thing, Windows update has become more of a chore since Windows Vista. I mean, it has to install the updates while your in windows, and then when you have to shutdown, and then finish up on the next boot up. Windows XP only had to install the updates while the computer was running and then do a straight reboot without anymore finishing up
      • RE: RE: Only us geeks!

        BTW, was this guy using Dial-up internet service that it took 2 hours to download that many updates? I finished out 118 updates on Windows 7 from download, install, shutdown and bootup in about 1-1/2 hours (Re-install of Win 7 Pro) and the labtop is only a i3 with 4 gigs of ram.

        I guess when he says fast internet connection, he must be comparing 1.5 Megabyte DSL service to dialup or something.
        • No, it was on Microsoft's end

          There have been numerous times where Microsoft's servers are completely unresponsive and it can take an hour or more to download updates, even on a cable modem. The problem is with Microsoft.
          • So that counts?

            So it would be 100% accurate to write a long, scathing blog about how ipad updates take 5+ hours. Good, glad we got that sorted out.

          • so it's not legit to question it?

            dude, he just bought a windows tablet not an ipad, so he commented on it. I realise you are a die hard fan of the twice convicted monopolist Microsoft, but please explain why should he talk about ipad updates? He didn't buy one, he bought a windows one. That is like saying you can't talk about a cars miles per gallon without discussing every other car on the planet as well. just silly in other words.

            I know it's hard for you to remain reasonable, but you should try harder. your shilling is starting to sound like "but he started it" sort of wailing.
          • Yes, it counts.

            It’s never taken me anything like *one* hour to update an iPhone or iPad, even when upgrading from iOS v5 to v6, but perhaps I’ve been lucky.

            Incidentally, I bought a MacBook Air today. It’s a gorgeous machine, which came fully-charged and only needed one software update, which was applied in under a minute. Love it!
          • Only One Update

            To me this just implies Apple is less diligent with its upgrades.
      • Not really true

        Windows XP configured new updates on reboot.. It just didn't tell you it was doing that.
    • Just let the system update the critical updates automatically

      And in the background.

      Then when you are going to bed do the manual update and install all the rest.
    • Totally agree

      I have installed at least 20+ W8 laptops since the OS came out, split between business (corporate) and residential, and I haven't experienced any of these problems with them.

      Your first problem was not thinking about what you were doing and what you were asking the system to do. To elaborate, laptops, by nature try to save power, so they are designed to run as slow as possible while still giving the user an adequate experience. The first thing I do with ANY system is to adjust the power settings so that it runs full-tilt when plugged into live power. That alone would have sped things up tremendously. One of these settings determines what to do when there is little or no power remaining in the battery. I set all laptops to ignore the power status when at "critical" level. That would have gotten you past your first hurdle. I have a Samsung ATIV tablet that I got from AT&T (with the ATOM processor), and for most things, it runs (and updates) nearly as fast as anything out there. Fault - you!

      Second, when the OS first came out, like all others, it would not have needed very many updates ... from ANY of the categories you ran into. However, about a month or so ago, about 98 new updates came out that everyone would have to apply. Again, you could have let this happen in the background. Fault - you!

      Third, you obviously had a previous setup on another W8 system, or you wouldn't have had the extra apps to download and install. Fault - you!

      Finally, it is very rare that an update would be required for any version of Windows that would stop you from running it right out of the box, nor would doing updates have prevented you from doing other things, and if left alone, the system is designed to automatically reboot within 2 days to complete the updates should you choose to ignore the reboot prompt, AND it usually will out you back where you were when it rebooted (i.e. All windows returned to where you were, including all IE tabs and the ability step backwards through each tab's history). fault - you!!!

      So, my question is, why are you still writing authoritative articles? Is Apple paying you to bash Windows?
      • About the battery

        " I set all laptops to ignore the power status when at "critical" level. That would have gotten you past your first hurdle"

        He couldn't get there. His computer auto shutdown as it was booting because of too low battery after he just unwrapped it (brand new, never booted before).

        BTW, my Nexus 7 tablet does that. It does not want to boot if the battery is completely depleted even if it's plugged in.
      • Yes, Updates Do Prevent You From Doing Other Things

        Part of each update requires a setup during shutdown and setup during the restart. Some updates have required two such shutdown/restart cycles. This is extremely annoying when you are attempting to perform some other task (such as WORK or attempting to reboot after a program/driver installation).
    • That's a mighty shame

      Considering that Microsoft is deliberately giving all of those user's data directly to the NSA.

      Not sure why anyone would want to do business with them.
      • Who has the time?

        Our IT guys have access to every e-mail and IM here. Who cares. They are so short-staffed they don't have time to do all the critical stuff. No one is sitting around reading your crap.
        • Guess you never heard of

          database searches. Just run a script and your computers will happily sift through all that information for whatever salacious detail you are interested in. With modern data analysis software, saying there's too much data for anyone to pay attention to it is nothing more than engaging in willful denial.
          • Who wants to...

            Lets face it, contrary to what we think about our selves, 98% of us are just not that interesting....if FB is any indication why would they of the kids, nondescript pictures of random people/buildings and what you had for breakfast all week or not. Hahaha...
        • Microsoft denies it...

          But there is a big difference between your IT guys sifting through your hard drive and Microsoft turning over data to the NSA.

          In the first case, the company owns the service and the hardware (unless it's BYOD). So they can do what they want with it. Most businesses have user policies that explicitly state it.

          But when Microsoft turns over your personal data (or your company's business information) to the NSA, they're taking something that belongs to you and giving it someone else. Of course, if you read the EULAs, they state that they will comply with lawful requests for information. The question is whether a blanket request for data from someone who isn't even suspected of wrongdoing is lawful, even if Microsoft doesn't get to decide that.

          And before someone says, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, that's a line of bull. First, it's your privacy. Personal things are just that, personal. If it isn't related to a crime, it's no one's business but your own. Second, some information can be used in ways that damage you, such as data involving your health.

          And as to time constraints for sifting through data, the post from baggins_z covers that topic quite nicely. Or have you never heard of data mining?
    • And, yet, I'll bet you are first in line

      criticizing people for not patching their Windows computers. But I guess when you first buy the machine, it's perfectly OK to let it run vulnerable that first day so you don't have to deal with the hassle of updates.
  • Many of these are typical for any tablet...

    Other very real issues with Win8 that slow first use were left out. For example, you boot to the metro interface (tiles) but can't immediately configure a secure wireless connection from the menu. So you have to exit the updater, hunt down the tile for the desktop, exit the modern UI, find and access the wireless config, hope you don't have to use IE for anything at the same time, configure wireless, and then re-start your updates. There is a lot of this crap, like the modern UI is only half functional and yet forced as the primary interface for everything.