Windows 8 – Teething Troubles

Yesterday we got a new laptop for my wife, since the time had come where her old Acer 4810T with its Intel Core 2 Solo CPU has become too slow (probably some update to OS security or anti virus). The new one is an Asus ux32vd laptop. Nice piece of hardware. It is running Windows 8 which my wife is looking forward to get properly acquainted with. She is an experienced computer user, by the way, having worked with scientific computing for many years and even designed a cluster computer for high performance calculations.

I have used Windows 8 for almost 6 months now and has grown quite happy with it, in spite of its eccentricities (especially the Start screen, once rightly configured, is a powerful new feature). Still, it is interesting to observe someone new that start using the OS. And so, with a little guidance from me, for example on hidden functionality like the active corners on the screen and the sometimes peculiar menus, she was up and running quite soon and growing comfortable with the new OS.

However, things got difficult when we went through the different apps. The Games app had to be updated before it could be used and so we duly went to Store app to update it together with 22 other apps. And we selected update and nothing more happened: app updates froze in pending state with no download/install progress. Error messages were initially useless, but finally they started at least including error codes like “8024001e” which still isn’t informative, but is an identifier that can be used to find a solution on the www. And so we googled the code and found frustrations and suggested solutions which many couldn’t get to work.

What worked for us was this instruction from

Method 3: Rename the Windows Update components folder.
a) Press “Windows key + X” and click “Command Prompt (Admin)”.
b) Type “net stop wuauserv” and press enter.
c) Type “rename c:WindowsSoftwareDistribution softwaredistribution.old” and press enter.
d) Type “net start wuauserv”and press enter.

Note the capital “W” in the path – we couldn’t get the method to work with small “w” like it is posted on the Microsoft support sites, so that might be the reason that the method didn’t work for some. Also we had to do step a) twice before the service actually stopped.

So we solved the problem. Still I am annoyed that my wife’s first experience of an OS that I have pitched should be problematic like this. A bug is a bug (to fixed according severity etc.), but how come one like this, that effectively disables the app store has not been fixed? If nothing else, then by making restart of the service available in “Advanced settings” somewhere in the system (but why doesn’t restarting the computer not restart the update service?).

The computer is fixed and it looks like my wife’s disappointment with something new computer that didn’t work properly is gone as well. My annoyance with an bug in an otherwise excellent OS may last a little longer. Then again, having found the solution and having shared it already makes me feel better.