Windows 8, Why Won't You Let Me Love You?

Most of you already know this but it's worth putting it out on front street: I'm a Mac user. I have a 2011 11-inch MacBook Air, and because of problematic hardware and a buggy OS, I hate it. Ever since the Developer Preview of Windows 8 hit the net, I have had some version of Windows 8 sitting in a virtual machine on my Mac. Now I'm one of the users stuck in limbo thanks to Microsoft's as yet unexplained decision to only offer upgrade copies of Windows to Australian users rather than a full version. Microsoft, why won't you let me love you?

I had intended to do a post about whether or not Windows can win over a Mac OS X Lion user, but when I figured out that I couldn't run a full version, it felt wrong writing it.

Between Windows 8 vs Max OS X Lion I think I'd choose the former, simply because it respects what a computer should be and gives that experience to a bunch of different devices. Let me explain.

Mac OS X Lion is a route marker for where Apple is going with its desktop operating systems. Apple is trying to make OS X a platform where you'll never have to see the command line ever again. It wants it to be smooth, easy to use and fluid right out of the box. The way the company seems to be doing that is with iOS. More and more iOS features have been slowly creeping on into Apple's desktop space, as has the "walled garden" ideology. 'Play by our rules, or get out,' says Apple.

Now I'm not someone who needs to see a command line as much as an engineer, designer or coder would, but I like having the option there, so if something needs to be tweaked, changed or modified, I can do it by pumping in a bit of code and adjusting the operating system into something the manufacturer didn't think of. Surely that's my right? To infinitely tweak hardware that I have paid for? Apparently not. Apple is taking the restrictive mobile environment that it made and is pulling it upwards into the desktop operating system environment. Yuck.

Windows 8, while slightly more restrictive than previous versions of the operating system, is taking a different approach. Microsoft wants the desktop experience to work on multiple devices, dragging the idea of a traditional desktop computer into a tablet, phone and convertible. That's the approach I like.

I don't mind a locked-down environment on the smartphone side from Apple because it's led to a great curated app experience that platforms like Android just haven't been able to deliver yet in my opinion, but moving that into the desktop space — a space where traditionally the experience is exactly what you make of it — feels wrong.

So when I went to my local computer and software emporium to purchase a full copy of Windows 8, I was told that I could only purchase an upgrade license. When I went to the Windows 8 launch event in Sydney, we asked the local managing director if we could buy a copy. She ducked and weaved around the question like a pro, and when we left the event, journalists were given upgrade licenses only as review copies. No thanks. I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, but this is a fatal flaw for Microsoft: not letting people from other ecosystems in to theirs.

Microsoft needs one in the win column for Windows 8, and it just can't get one if it's not letting people install new operating systems in parallel to others, like Mac OS X. It painstakingly built two great feet for itself, and now it's decided to blow one clean off.

As far as I can fathom, to upgrade my virtual machine to a full version of Windows 8, I have to go and buy a copy of Windows 7 of all things, then plug in the upgrade key. That's fine and it's probably what I'll end up doing, but people like my Mum and Dad wouldn't know to do that. They'd just think it too hard and return the copy of Windows 8 they bought back to the store and go on using Mac.

Worse-still, people who know their way around the internet who don't like being screwed by this stupid decision by Microsoft are more likely to go and pirate a copy of Windows 7 just so they can upgrade, or even just pirate the whole damn OS. Not that we encourage that sort of thing.

Pull up your socks, Microsoft. We don't want to buy new hardware just to use your operating system. Let us choose to use what we want. Let us love you.



    I have been running Windows 8 test, beta and release candidates for some time. This morning I bought a retail upgrade (Windows 8 Pro) and installed without a problem. I don't think your problem is real, unless it is something to do with Macs and or virtualisation.

    Also got the Windows Media Centre upgrade free from Microsoft. Brilliant!

      really??? I thought the final version of Win8 wouldn't install over the top of one of the Preview versions?

        Nope :D I installed it over Release Preview (with the $58 package). You just can't keep programs, but you can keep files (eg: documents)

          Same as above except I was running Developers Preview in Bootcamp on my MacMini. Bought the 39.99 upgrade, downloaded and installed over the top. Now I'm using it as my main partition.

        You can. I did it recently also. A bit painful it doesn't keep your applications though. And a heads up, it keeps your documents but not any of your settings for applications such as your Firefox profile so backup that yourself first. I bought it direct from Microsoft for $40. Pretty painless

          Oh and you are supposed to have a license key for a previous version of Windows to legally do this

      Actually, it is real.

      If you want to run a side-by-side install on your current non-windows PC (be it mac, linux, etc), you legally can't.

        Use of OEM System Builder software for Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro is subject to the following licensing terms:

        System Builder product may be used:

        - As the operating system on a PC you build for personal use.
        - As an operating system running either on a local virtual machine or as an additional operating system in a separate partition.

        Q. Can I install OEM System Builder software for Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro on a MAC computer?

        A. Yes, you can install Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro on a MAC computer using the Personal Use License.

        Why is this so hard for people to understand? I find this confusion hilarious.

          uhh, system builder is to make custom install images, basically an automated sysprep. Don't see how relevant.

          The upgrade licensing won't allow you (legally) to use that image except to install back onto the same machine. Read the terms of the license for the 'upgrade' edition, not the full install.

          Why is this so hard for people to understand? I find this confusion hilarious.

      So what if you are someone like me, a mac user who thinks Windows 8 might be worth using, but doesn't have test, beta etc installed? How do I put a copy on my machine?

        See if you can get hold of XP Vista or 7 from a friend who's not using it anymore. So long as they haven't got it on their PC you shouldn't have a problem. Apparently MS is using a trust method for the time being, so I was able to install mine from an unformatted SSD without upgrading.

        Buy the upgrade and boot from the DVD to run a fresh install - it's not legal but the upgrade disk does include the full install not just the upgrade

      You certainly can install the upgrade over the prerelease versions. I've done this on a Mac via Bootcamp, on a Windows 7 laptop and a bare bones desktop.

    My brother walked into leading edge and bought a copy for 60.00. He couldn't find anything that went on about an upgrade. What he bought installed on a blank hard drive.

    60.00 for a Microsoft OS isn't so bad...

      Actually Officeworks were selling it for $48.00, can't see why the would jack up the price...

    Luke, if you think Mac OS X is buggy, I've got news for you about Win 8.

      haha yeah, I'm on the verge of downgrading my machines back to Win 7, they seem to be getting flakier on daily basis, one machine now crashes every time it goes to sleep mode, the other now flashes a black screen for 2 seconds every time I play a video. I turn the monitor off on one and leave the PC running and now it randomly won't fire the monitor back up and often I have to do a hard reset. Every day I'm running windows update in hope something miraculous has happened. Also sound cuts in and out sometimes and requires a complete reboot to get working, and when I say reboot I mean, I actually have to shut it down and wait 5 seconds and start it up.

      Both machines are less than 6 months old and never had any of these issues with W7.

        Did you upgrade from Win 7? If so whaty AV do you run. I have had issues with:- Avast, Alvira, Norton, Kaspersky and McAfee that all required an uninstall and reinstall and then the system was all good. 5/5 failures with a simple upgrade. Hopefully your issue is something as simple.

          I upgraded from win 7 and was using MS security essentials, it was uninstalled when I upgraded and now I'm just using the built in Windows defender, not sure hopefully I can fix it, might have to go for a fresh install otherwise.

            FYI, AV have only just been validated against Windows 8. Alot of AV's and Windows Defender dont play nicely with each other Windows 8, lots of BSOD's (yes their back but their friendly-ish). If you can, get the key under the promo or get Win 8 cheep but hold off on the install until other vendors have had a chance to update/certify software and drivers (especially the cheepo USB wifi - Damn u TPLink).

            I have done that upgrade as well and it works. I didn't mention it as its a MS product and you don't normally have the hiccups you do with 3rd party products when you upgrade windows. I used Security Essentials and now just use Windows Defender with no issues. However all my W8 installs are clean.

            My sister husband did have another issue. He had a laptop and the accelerometer and the SSD were clashing. The Toshiba software he had after the upgrade thought his HDD was a spindle drive and crapped out as it was an SSD.

            Best of luck fixing your issue.

            Pretty sure when i ran upgrade assistant it said MS Security Essentials wasn't compatible,

              yes correct, it uninstalls it when you upgrade. Win 8 has windows defender that looks almost identical.

        Try Removing the Skype app from the interface formally known as metro. I had the same sound issue, removing Skype fixed it. I still use the desktop skype and it is fine.

        I have none of these issues. WIn8 is every bit as stable as Win7 was on my Zenbook and the release version runs everything that Win7 did, too. Mind you, there is no situation in which mine ever goes to sleep (or hibernates) - there is no reason to when it shuts down in 3 seconds and boots up in 10 or so - so maybe that's where your issue is?

          Yeah I know what you mean about the boot up, the only reason I use the sleep function is for the PC in my bedroom, its nice to be able to wake it with the wireless track pad so I don't have to get up and boot it up every time I want to watch something from bed. That's not a huge issue as it usually just crashes and reboots while I'm not using it and when I wake it just has an error message saying it's had to restart.

          I did some trouble shooting last night and found the issues with my other PC are due to the AMD 7850 GPU. Removed it and run it with the onboard and not having any of the issues. So hopefully it will be resolved soon as if it's a choice between Win 8 and being able to game on my system I can't see Win 8 winning that battle. Any one else having any probs with the 7000 series AMD cards on Win 8?

        Hmm i'd say uninstall all the manufacture software you don't need (all of it) and look for updated drivers for everything. The Win7 drivers should install fine. It may be easier just to back it all up and do a clean install. Also note that Windows 8 has that new Refresh/Reset feature that might be worth trying -

          Thanks Gabe, I think you're right about it being driver issues, did the full reset last night, with the option to scrub the drive completely, problems still occurred and narrowed it down to my GPU (AMD 7850) mate has an older 6000 series he's not using so going to try that tonight, if the problems don't occur with it I may take my GPU in for warranty replacement as its only a few months old.

      Besides the fact that I had to uninstall Kaspersky 2011 and install 2013 after installation, I haven't had a single problem. Fluid transition, fantastic OS (fast as hell) and much appreciated upgrades.

      10/10, would recommend.

    I am going to have to disagree with you Luke (feel free to down vote me if you like).

    As a Windows users who doesn't really like OSX I think I prefer the approach that Apple is taking.

    The iOS like features that they are adding seem secondary. Your Mac doesn't boot straight in to launchpad, you have to then open it. They seem to be saying, "Your iPad is pretty easy to use, so if you click here you can use your Mac like that too. Cool huh?"

    Microsoft's approach to Windows 8 is to stick their mobile interface front and center in your face and make you go past it to do anything. They are almost treating the desktop as an optional experience.

    I think the difference between the look and feel of Metro apps (or whatever they are called now) and traditional Windows apps is fair greater than the difference between an app from the Mac app store and one that you install yourself.

      Oh god, I can't believe I am going to agree with you as I personally hate OSX but that sounds like a better approach.

      Uhhh anything you do on your computer can be pinned to your start menu, what exactly do you mean they're "making you past it"?

      The start menu is not a mobile interface.

        What I mean is that I am not sure I agree with idea of my computer starting up with a full screen start menu. Up until Windows 8, the start menu was something that you launched when you needed it. Microsoft assumed that the desktop was where you started, and I agree with that idea (it's a personal opinion).

        I like being able to save a file to my desktop on Friday afternoon and it being the first thing I see when I start my computer on Monday. I now either have to take the extra step and pin it, or go PAST the start screen to see that file on Monday morning. I'll probably get distracted by a live tile telling me about something that happened on Facebook.

        The start menu wasn't a mobile interface, but the start screen is an adaptation of the mobile interface that Microsoft introduced in with Windows Phone 7. It is the same interface they use for their tablet only software (RT).

        I also think the Metro apps act too much like mobile apps. Things like drag down to quit an app.

        I don't want to sound like I am bashing Windows 8 because that isn't my intention. I will end up using Windows 8 on all of my machines at some point in time. I just think some of the choices they have made are strange. You are welcome to disagree.

          Is it really that hard to just press the windows key and be greeted by the exact same interface your use too (minus the start button)?. Not trying to have a go at you, but seriously 1 button press really destroys the joys starting your PC and seeing that desktop and that one file you saved on your desktop?

          The more I use Win8 the more I am enjoying it and finding new things I didn't know. It boots faster, im finding it faster to switch programs/apps and the overall OS feels snappier. And once your hit multimon territory I find it a joy to use.

            It's not hard, it's just one of those things that I don't agree with. At the end of the day it's not a big deal, just an example of something that I personally don't agree with.

            I would also have liked to be able to run metro apps in a window. The choice of full screen or side pane seems overly restrictive.

            Does that work? AFAIK, the WIN key toggles between the Start Screen and whatever you were doing previously. e.g. If I am in the Weather app and press WIN, it goes to the Start Screen but if I press it again it takes me back to the Weather app.

          Starting with a full-screen menu simply saves you the step of opening the Start Menu when you are ready to do something, doesn't it? OK, maybe you pin your most used applications to the Taskbar but how is the Start Menu any different from that? Unless there is some very specific reason you need to see your desktop wallpaper first thing every time you boot, this is a complete non-issue.

          The situation you describe of saving a file to your desktop, which is an appalling practice BTW, simply requires one extra mouse-click; hardly the end of the world given all the other situations in which it saves you a click or two.

            I never said it was an issue, it's a design decision that I don't like. Apple seem to be making their OS more like their mobile products by adding layers of optional simplification, while Microsoft seem to be focusing on making that experience the primary one. I think the existence of Windows RT shows how critical Microsoft see the Metro side of things.

            I am not for a second trying to say that Microsoft's strategy is bad, or wrong. If I was given the choice I would have preferred they did things slightly different.

            I also disagree that saving non-critical files to your desktop is an appalling practice. I will give you a more specific example from last Friday: I was working on script that generated a PDF report from a hosted database. I got the script working and used it to generate a PDF document on my desktop. I then got a phone call and didn't get a chance to check the output was without issue. Monday morning when I booted my machine it was sitting there waiting for me.

            Does Metro drastically alter that experience? No.
            Is it something I do all day every day? No.
            Does it really matter? No.

            Doesn't mean I can't have an opinion on it.

      Mobile interface? Think of it as a new desktop, that looks nicer.
      All just opinions.

    How can a person that is meant to be part of a "tech site" not know a few things...To start if you're so keen on having a "full install" copy....Go to your local computer shop and buy an OEM copy...They all sell it and they don't really give 2 shits about who buys it.

    Also it has been said in blogs, forums and internet sites all around the world that the "upgrade" still lets you do a clean install and doesn't seem to care about needing a windows 7 disk / key.

      Hmmm, Upgrade to W8 Pro $48.00.. Windows 8 Pro OEM around $150.00.. Just sayin man.

        Luke's complaint wasn't cost so much as inability to buy any licence. Whats stupid is they were not aware of the new terms and conditions for OEM.

        Unless you need to join your computer to a domain, remote into it with remote desktop or use Bitlocker encryption on your hard drive, you don't need Pro. Win8 standard OEM is around $99.

        Alternatively you can install a copy without entering a license key, the use the 'Get Genuine' option in Windows activation to buy a key from MS direct, and I think that's cheaper.

      An OEM licence of Windows 8 is 100% legit to use on a Mac as long as its not the only OS on the machine. An OEM copy can be used in a VM or as a secondary boot option on a computer. Or as the full OS if you build the machine yourself. But in the case of Luke's Mac that last option isn't relevant.

      Edit: Aslo Luke doesn't want some hack not properly licensed version on his computer. He is trying to be legit. So he can't use your option with Windows 7.

      Last edited 07/11/12 4:31 pm

    I'm using Windows 8 and so far for the most part I'm a fan, but I'm surprised by your comparison of OSX Mountain Lion and Windows 8. My read of the situation is that they are both signposts of the exact same thing - trying to bring a curated, closed environment to the desktop - that's basically what Modern/Metro is right?

      No, that's what the RT app store is. Modern is just an updated UI that runs better.

        My understanding was that the only apps that run in the Modern UI (for real at least not like whatever weird thing Chrome is doing) are ones purchased through the RT App store. Is that wrong?

    Creating an rtificial business/retail barrier to force hardware sales so maybe more people go touch?

    Oh, if I didn't already own a windows tablet/have access to MSDN downloads I would be annoyed too.

    considering i'm running windows 8 on 4 different machines, and not bought a single piece of hardware.....
    you dont have to buy a new computer for windows 8, you can upgrade yours if you have a qualifying operating system (windows xp, vista and 7)
    you are trying to put windows on a mac, yes, there will be issues.

    100% agree about the new Apple OSX. I use OSX 10.5.8 at work to for software compatibility with some of the programs we use, it's quite fast and snappy. At home I have OSX 10.7 and it bogs down all the time. My wife who's a Mac fan keeps telling me about how often she has to restart the iMac.
    I'm also going to install Windows 8 on the iMac when I get a chance. I already have Windows Vista on the iMac so I can just upgrade it :)

    Last edited 07/11/12 3:38 pm

      Yeah, Lion seems to need more restarts than civet or whatever the hell the last iteration was called. But - in my experience - more restarts is not many: maybe one every three days (ie, about every 24 hours use). Still too many.

    You ca now legally buy an OEM version for your PC/mac as Microsoft has removed the restriction on using OEM versions of Windows for your own computer (source: so for $139 you can buy the full windows 8 Pro version (or $99 for the Windows 8) at any good online PC shop (I use PC Case Gear).

    I think there are too many whingy whiny people complaining about everything.
    "Oh they took away the start button and I'm too dumb to work out metro", "oh it's only $40 for an upgrade, but it's an upgrade not a full version and I can't install the full version because I'm too lazy to download the iso from the internet","Oh there is issues with installing a microsoft product on my Apple hardware".

      ... For an upgrade. He no want no upgrade no sir.

        Apple make you pay just as much for service packs every few months and the fanbois throw the money at them.

        Last edited 07/11/12 5:12 pm

      $15 if you duped the new computer purchase to download the upgrade.

    Its called upgrade but its the full version. and no u dont have to buy win 7. it installs over xp and on clean install too. How can someone working for a tech site not know this? a simple google search would have answered your questions.

    Sounds like some petty hating on Microsoft and Win8 to me.

    After some of the other articles I've read on here *cough* nokia and surface reviews *cough* when I saw the headline I thought "Oh no, now what rubbish are they going on about?" Thankfully, it was a decent article though. I'm a little unsure about how I'm going to upgrade from the Windows 8 Enterprise trial once it runs out though. Apparently it's possible to do a clean install from the upgrade though? Could you look into this please?
    Or I'll just buy a System Builder version.

    General vibe over on whirlpool is that the upgrade version full installs and activates no problem.

    Seriously though I can't get Borderlands 2 to work , it's like VIsta 64 bit all over again WTF.

    So, does this mean that it's impossible to install Win8 on a Macbook Air? I have an Air in the mail, and was hoping I'd be able to do this. I do have a licence of Vista that I don't use anymore (who would), so can I buy an upgrade for my licence of that, and install it on a Macbook Air? Or is there some technical limitation?

    I ripped my hair out over the same question for days. It just didn't make sense to assume that everyone has a previous version of Windows already installed or wants to upgrade. I bought a copy of Windows 8 Pro for $48 from Office Works not being entirely sure if it was an upgrade copy or not. Long story short, I clean-installed it on my Mac and ended up activating it with my product key by editing a registry key that makes Windows think you upgraded. Throw Start8 in and I've been quite happy with it, though I'm hesitant to run any games still based on others' reports

    I have an SSD at home with Developer/Consumer Preview on it (can't remember which). Are you guys saying that the $40 upgrade as sold at Officeworks will work on that? If so, sign me up.

    For all you people that think it's OK to just use the upgrade because it works without a key. This is from Microsofts terms and conditions:
    Each upgrade license applies to only one PC and you can install the upgrade only on PCs that have a valid base license and one of the following operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP (SP3).

    This means that yes if you are eligible for a upgrade (see above) then you can do a clean install without a key or having windows installed (just to make life easier for you, thanks microsoft).

    This does not mean that you can legally use the upgrade unless you already have a previous version of windows (again see above).

    I've been able to get a legitimate, free, full version of Windows 8 (not just an upgrade) and it's been pretty good. Perks of being a Uni student studying IT. So a Full version does exist, just not sure if anyone else can get them.

      And that's the problem. It shouldn't be as rare as hen's teeth. Throw them around!

    Luke check the OEM licensing info for Windows 8. You can run in a VM or as a 2nd boot partition.

    How can I use the software? We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it. Under our license, we grant you the right to install and run that one copy on one computer (the licensed computer) as the operating system on a computer that you build for your personal use, or as an additional operating system running on a local virtual machine or a separate partition, subject to the restrictions outlined under “Are there things I’m not allowed to do with the software?” The license is only for use by one person at a time, and only if you comply with all the terms of this agreement. The software is not licensed to be used as server software or for commercial hosting - so you may not make the software available for simultaneous use by multiple users over a network. For more information on multiple user scenarios and virtualization, see the Additional Terms.

    Edit: Noticed @benbong pretty much pointed out the same details.

    Last edited 07/11/12 4:33 pm

    From what I've read, its not that hard to get a full version in australia... a little bit of googling told me as much

    My personal experience...
    I installed upgrade over the top of win 7. Worked perfectly but my win 7 install was bloated so I decided to do a clean install.

    After the install completed I got an error to the effect "this key in use" clicking find out more gave me a AU 1300 number. Called MS explained I tried to do a clean install with upgrade the tech then gave me a code which unlocked the install. He also said I won't have this issue again if I do another fresh install. Total talk time to MS :10 mins. Extremely happy with their service.

      yeah, have to agree.
      MS have called me a few times to advise me theres a virus on my PC. They are even considerate enough to direct me to a download page and step me through the process of removing the virus by installing some great security software.
      Good thing too because the software went on to find hundreds of other viruses on my PC.
      For a small fee I was able to remove the viruses and be comfortable in the knowledge that my PC continues to be safe and secure.

        u r 1 cheeky bugger m8

    First of all, Windows 8 does not work well in virtual machines, so you aren't giving it a fair review, if you only ever used it in a VM. Secondly, the OEM version is now allowed to be purchased and installed on your own hardware for personal use, so there isn't only an upgrade option.

      Read the new terms and conditions for OEM licensing as it has changed you can use it if you fulfill the proper requirements.

    OEM system builder Win 8 or Win 8 Pro under PUL (personal use license) will let you install on a mac in a separate boot or VM.

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