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Windows 8.1: A service pack or a new OS?

Is Windows 8.1 an update for Windows 8 or an upgrade? In other words, is it a service pack or is it a new version of Windows?

Windows 8.0 in comparison to Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.0 in comparison to Windows 8.1.

Let’s find out.

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Windows 8.1 – An update fiasco

Windows 8.1, advertised as a free update, has arrived. But it is neither free nor an update.

Windows 8.0 in comparison to Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.0 in comparison to Windows 8.1

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Windows 8 Beta – First impression

Finally, I managed to download a copy of Windows 8 Consumer Preview and try it out. Not an easy feat for one who is constantly roaming and is away from home. I am afraid it did not leave a good impression on me. Here is why.

Windows 8 Basic theme

Windows 7 Basic theme

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Software updater: Introducing a problematic case

Update (2015-01-03): Document layout fixed. The image, however, is permanently lost, thanks to Microsoft!

In my last post, I said that I had tried a handful of very faulty applications that helped users keep their computer software up-to-date but exhibited unacceptable number of false positives. Today, I am going to introduce one of those cases.

On 17 July 2010, I installed Orbit Downloader 4, a free download manager application. The version 4 of this application, released on 15 July 2010, features an integrated software updater.

The problem

I am including the report that Orbit Downloader’s Software Updater module has created. This report comes from a web site called Recipester and is released under Creative Commons Attribution version 3 license. Therefore, I’m including a full-resolution report. (Click on the figure to the right to zoom.)

Ignored items

I have ignored the following items; that is, I didn’t investigate their factual accuracy:

  1. Nokia Connectivity Driver
  2. Windows Live ID
  3. hp deskjet
  4. Windows Driver Package – Hewlett-Packard Image

False positive: Software that I don’t even have

The first and deadliest of the flaws of this product: This report claims that I have certain outdated software that I actually don’t have them installed at all! Here is a list of them:

  1. COMODO Internet Security
  2. FastPictureViewer
  3. Mathematica
  4. Microsoft Security Essentials
  5. Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1
  6. Wolfram Notebook Indexer

This list of nonexistent items leaves much to argue about. Indeed, what gave this application the impression that I own any of these items? How could one possibly have COMODO Internet Security, Microsoft Security Essentials and Kaspersky Internet Security all installed on one system simultaneously? Two antivirus products and two firewall products cannot co-exist on one system without causing the user of that computer unthinkable amount of trouble.

False positives: Erroneous assertions

The following is a list of those items in the report that have fake “Latest Version”.

Name Assertion of my current version My real current version Assertion of latest version Real latest version
Apple Software Update
Apple Application Support 1.2.1 1.2.1 1.3.0 1.2.1
CCleaner 2.33.1184 2.33.1184 2.33.1184
NVIDIA Display Control Panel 3.3.451.10 3.3.451.10
NVIDIA Drivers 257.21 95.30 257.21
Microsoft Math 3.0.1184.1020 3.0.1184.1020 16.0.4297.1026 3.0.1191.1031
TuneUp Utilities 9.0.4400.16 9.0.4400.16 9.0.4400.17 9.0.4400.16
NVIDIA nView Desktop Manager 135.18 125.25 135.18
Inkscape 0.47.00 0.47 0.48 0.47
Avidemux 2.5.3 2.5.3
Tag&Rename 3.5.4 3.5.6
Diskeeper 10 Pro Premier 14.0.903.0 14.0.903.32 14.0.903.0

False positive: Lack of regard for eligibility

The following items are reported in error because the updater software either does not know the difference between update and upgrade or does not regard the fact that certain version of a software might have been released only for specific operating system.

  1. Windows Media Player 12.0.7600.16415: Windows Media Player 12 is exclusively released for Windows  7 (and later). I am running Windows XP and I have the latest version of Windows Media Player 11.
  2. Internet Explorer 8.0.7600.16385: Internet Explorer 8 for Windows 7 is different from that of Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP. I am running the latest version of Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP.
  3. Kaspersky Internet Security I am running the latest version of Kaspersky Internet Security 7. Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 (v11) is an upgrade, not an update. I am not sure whether I can upgrade to that version free of charge; however, I am currently unwilling to upgrade, as the newer versions are dramatically changed and the usefulness of these changes versus the increased level of protection. Still, its my service subscription that has the most effect on my decision.
  4. Adobe Photoshop: The latest version of Adobe Photoshop reported here is wrong; the latest version is 12 not 11. (Adobe Photoshop CS5 is released on 30 June 2010.) However, I am running Adobe Photoshop CS3 and upgrading to CS5 would not be possible free of charge.

True positives

Out of 32 items in the report, there were 3 true positive items; that is, three of my computer software required update:

  1. Adobe Reader
  2. UltraISO Premium
  3. WinASO Registry Optimizer


Having ignored 4 items, 3 out of 28 reported software were indeed out of date. Well, 10.7% factual accuracy is indeed poor. Therefore, I advise you to stay away from the software updater module of Orbit Downloader.

Still, Orbit Downloader is a good free download manager, although I don’t use its video capturing capabilities. Update Checker Update Checker v1.37 - Main screen Update Checker v1.37 – Main screen Update Checkeris an app that scans computers for installed software and alerts the user if there are any updates available.

What makes Update Checker singular amongst other update checking software applications (that I have tried yet) is that not even once I saw a false alert in its reports. Until now, I have tried quite a handful of update checking applications, including Software Informer, CNET TechTrack and a couple of others without satisfaction: They displayed dozens of false alerts. Update Checker is not a perfect solution, but it is an outstanding solution. Its update database is meager. Below is a sample report of Update Checker, when my software were all up to date.

FileHippo.Com Update Checker – Sample report from a Windows XP computer

FileHippo.Com Update Checker – Sample report from a Windows XP computer

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