The last time Microsoft pushed out a major update to Windows 8.1, users who didn't install it were punished by having their right to download future security updates blocked. This time users who did download the latest update are being punished by having to uninstall it because of some nasty glitches the company didn't find until it had been available for more than a week.
In other words, if you use Windows 8.1 and you downloaded a collection of security updates and bug fixes called variously the "August Update" or "Update 2," you'd better uninstall the software. The problems are severe enough that Update 2, or whatever it's called, has been pulled completely from Microsoft's website.
"Microsoft is investigating behavior associated with the installation of this update, and will update this bulletin when more information becomes available," the company wrote in a statement. "Microsoft recommends that customers uninstall this update. As an added precaution, Microsoft has removed the download links to the 2982791 security update." (The link contains information on how to uninstall the update.)
Ironically enough, the flawed update wasn't a big deal to begin with. Although some people in the press who follow Microsoft closely expected the update to be a big one with lots of features to make the unpopular OS more attractive, it wasn't. It turned out to be a collection of security updates and bug fixes, not unlike the updates the company pushes out frequently to Windows 7 users.
Before it was recalled, the benefits of the upgrade were explained in a blog post by Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc. The most interesting feature he mentioned was a tweak to the touchpad settings that make devices somewhat more useful and more mouse like. Big deal.
Ugly bugs aside, the ho-hum nature of the update was yet another sign that the new top management at Microsoft has pretty much given up on trying to boost the popularity of Windows 8 and is now focused on what one hopes will be a much friendlier OS: Windows 9, which is expected sometime next year.
There's a lot of speculation about what Windows 9 will look like, much of it likely incorrect, but I would be very surprised if it weren't much friendlier than Windows 8 and much closer to the classic Windows 7 desktop -- Start Menu and all.
I have been counseling friends and readers to look for PCs running Windows 7, but those pups are getting very hard to find, and some of the hardware in them is getting rather long in the tooth. I'm updating my advice. In a word, wait. I assume that systems running Windows 8.1 will be support Windows 9, but OS upgrades can be a major headache.