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Errors stymie Windows 8.1 updates on some devices

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 22, 2013
Microsoft support blames device driver 'bug check' for some of the installation failures

Some said they had successfully completed the update after stripping out drivers from SteelSeries, a third-party maker of keyboards and mice.

The fact that these same users had been able to update their PCs to Windows 8 earlier, but were thwarted by Windows 8.1, left some confused. And furious at Microsoft.

"I had NO problems installing [Windows] 8," said Dudeinco on the same thread. "And 8.1 is MINOR UI changes and a few code clean-ups? Give me a break. Did I miss something, or is this the same company that's been successfully deploying operating system for the past 3 decades both in-home and enterprise alike?

"I am beyond frustrated, and finding out that this has been going on throughout the preview only fuels that fire," Dudeinco added, referring to reports that the same, or at the least, very similar issues cropped up after Microsoft shipped Windows 8.1 Release Preview. "Sorry, but this is unacceptable. Why bother having a preview and maintenance releases if you don't actually work on the problems during that time?"

Other forum threads focused on different error messages displayed after a failed update. Some of the threads received explanations from Microsoft support personnel — one was blamed on unspecified third-party applications, a common target for support reps — but others went unanswered. As often happens, other customers stepped in with theories about what led to the breakdowns, or workarounds they claimed had solved the problems.

In one thread, for instance, a Microsoft support technician blamed the same driver bug check for scrapping the update. After more users logged reports, some concluded that it originated with the Nvidia GTX780 SLI graphics chipset on their PCs' motherboards.

It's not unusual that a Windows upgrade — from one edition, say Windows 7, to another like Windows 8 — causes problems for some, considering the huge variety of components that make up PCs, their peripherals and the software running on them.

Windows Vista, for example, was a nightmare in comparison to the complaints thus far about Windows 8.1. Because Vista relied on a new device driver architecture, many long-used peripherals could not be paired with the OS. Vendors were slow in creating new Vista-compatible device drivers, putting the brakes on adopting the operating system.

But any significant stumble with Windows 8.1 will damage Microsoft, perhaps even more than did Vista, as the company's already stinging from poor reviews of the original, and unlike 2007, working in a climate where it's far behind in tablet market share and staring at the PC industry's longest-lasting sales contraction.

Windows 8.1 is also Microsoft's first OS update in its new, faster release tempo. Any quality issues in the update — including the ones already reported — will be seized on to claim the company can't handle the faster pace, and more importantly, to justify ignoring the quickened cadence.


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