Laugh all you want, but I’ve always been a Windows guy, and for the past six years I’ve used a Windows Vista laptop for 100% of my web development work. This weekend, I bought a brand new Windows 8 laptop.
It was a cheap one. An HP Pavilion, with tax, totaled up to less than $400 from Best Buy. I thought I had gotten a steal.
When I first unpacked it and started it up, I was shocked to realize that the internet was actually slower on this brand new laptop than my six-year-old one. I’m talking about cripplingly slow. I could’ve probably dusted off my old Windows 98 box, connected to an old-school dialup account from AOL (apparently they still do that) and it would’ve been faster.
With some Windows update magic, I’m writing this from my new laptop with a respectable 10 MBPS download speed. What follows are my step by step instructions on how I “unsucked” it:
Step 1, BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE: Update Your Wireless Driver
- Search for your “Device Manager”
- Select “Network Adapters”
- Locate your wireless adapter (mine was Realtek … Wi-Fi Adapter, may be different for you)
- Right click it, select “Update Driver Software” and wait. It may take a few minutes to work.
After making this change, my wireless internet download speeds increased by about 16-fold. As you might imagine, this made downloading large upgrades (3+ GB worth) go a bit more swiftly.
Step 2: Install all your Windows updates
One of the first things I did was check the Windows Store app to immediately upgrade to Windows 8.1. No dice.
Apparently, before you can do that, you have to apply all your other updates. If I had this laptop for several months, I’m sure this would have upgrade automatically on its own. But I just opened it, so I had to “catch up” in a sense.
Move mouse to lower right corner of screen, you’ll see a menu appear where you can access your settings. Then go to “Change PC Settings” and navigate to “Windows Update.” Get started, and wait.
Hopefully for you, you already fixed your wireless adapter so this part will go a lot faster for you. It took me a few hours in my pre-updated wireless driver state.
Step 3: Upgrade to Windows 8.1
After downloading and applying all of the Windows 8 updates (there will be a lot) you’ll now see the option to download Windows 8.1 for free when you open the Windows Store app.
It’s a 3-4 GB download. It will take a while to download. And after it’s downloaded, it’ll take a while to install. After that, you’ll be asked to re-input a lot of settings you thought you already set in your original setup. More on that later.
Step 4: Uninstall all useless preloaded apps
Let’s see, my HP came with a number of apps I have absolutely no interest in.
- eBay? I don’t think I’ve bought anything on eBay for 5 years.
- An “HP Deals” app (where no deals were available in my country)? Can’t really take advantage of that.
- Really, just too much stuff to name. Get rid of anything that sounds skeevy. Keep anything that sounds essential to your computer’s normal operation (touchpad stuff, drivers, etc.).
I probably uninstalled at least 30 apps, and I’m not done yet. Who knows what kind of a kickback HP got for preinstalling all of this crapware on every new box.
I also had Netflix and Skype pre-loaded. I decided to keep these because I use them anyway, but they’re also already free apps in the Windows Store you can download again should you ever decide to uninstall and want them back again.
First of all, I’m pretty appalled at how awful this laptop was out of the box. It’s almost as if HP struck a deal with Best Buy (and GeekSquad) that went a little something like, “we’ll ship our laptops with really horrible drivers that make the computer cripplingly slow. All you have to do is upgrade them and charge a premium for the ‘fix’! Brilliant!”
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t figure out this “update wireless router before anything else” thing until much later on in the unsucking process. Hopefully you won’t run into the same issue as I did after reading this.
Also, Windows 8 showed how desperately data hungry Microsoft is. Do I want to send every URL I visit to Microsoft for some bs “security check”? No. Do I want to send info about every single program I install to Microsoft for some other bs “security check”? No. Make sure you don’t do the “express” set up and opt-out of all of these ridiculous “security” features.
Besides that, the UI will take some getting used to. It’s not a touch screen and I’m still getting the hang of touchpad gestures.
After getting the slow WiFi thing taken care of, I’ve gotta say…I don’t hate it.