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Windows 8

Why are we upgrading to Windows 8.1 at Southern?
There has been a lot of angst in the Windows computer users community about Windows 8.  Unlike the upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, Windows 8 is VERY different than all previous versions of Windows and can be quite challenging to get used to.  There are two primary reasons why we need to upgrade:
  • Some of our new textbooks were written expecting students to be using Windows 8 computers.
  • Any of our students that have purchased a new computer in the last two years have been using Windows 8.  When they come to our campus and find Windows 7, some will think we are using old, outdated equipment.  We are upgrading computers on a regular basis, so the computer they're seeing is not outdated.  But if it has an "old" version of Windows to them, it appears we are outdated.  This can present a marketing problem for Southern.
What is being upgraded to Windows 8.1?
For the Fall 2014 semester, the following computer labs have Windows 8.1 installed on them:
  • Logan A-202, A-204, A-205, C-332 and A-211 (A-211 has Virtual Desktop thin clients installed in it)
  • Williamson A-301 and A-330
  • Wyoming 113, 126 and 131
There are none yet on the Boone campus or on the Lincoln site.

What if I teach in one of those labs and want Windows 8.1 on my office computer?
We have not yet upgraded any faculty computers to Windows 8.1.  We have been working with it in depth for quite a few months and are ready for upgrading any faculty computers.  If you want your computer upgraded to Windows 8.1, please submit a ticket at  Select "Computer" in the Issue dropdown box.  In the Summary of Problem box, simply tell us you are teaching in a lab with Windows 8 and want your office computer upgrading. We will give you priority over any others requesting to be upgraded.

Must I upgrade to Windows 8.1?
We are not requiring anyone to upgrade to Windows 8.1 yet.  Microsoft is shortening the cycle of providing support for older versions of Windows.  For security reasons, we cannot allow computers with unsupported versions of Windows to run on our administrative network.  Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April of this year forcing us to remove Windows XP computers from our network.  Mainstream support for Windows 7 is currently listed on Microsoft's website to end on 1/13/2015.  That isn't a "drop dead" date for support yet, but you can see they are shortening the cycles and are forcing customers to upgrade sooner.

I looked at it and couldn't figure out how to use it.  How can I learn how before my computer is upgraded?
There are a lot of resources available that can help you.  Learning to use it is not as hard as it might at first appear.  Be aware that some of the Windows 8 aids you may find on the internet will not work as expected at Southern because our computers are joined to an enterprise network with centralized management. There are a few links below that we recommend for you to peruse, including a quick tips and tricks video by our Chief Information Officer.
  • Windows 8.1 Tutorial - This is from Microsoft and starts with a good introductory video that would be useful for anyone moving to Windows 8.  Most of the topics below the video are useful, though the ones concerning setting up email will not be applicable for Southern users as we use Outlook.
  • Microsoft's Windows 8.1 FAQs - The first few topics are good background for most users.  The further down the page you read, the more technical the article becomes and most of the lower topics would not be useful for most users.
  • Tips and Tricks for Windows 8.1 - Video by Gary Holeman, Southern Chief Information Officer, giving his introduction to using Windows 8.1 at Southern.
I have Windows 8 at home, but it doesn't look like what you're showing?
If you have the Windows 8 that came on your computer, it will not automatically upgrade to Windows 8.1.  You must go to the Windows Store to get Windows 8.1 to install.  After you have Windows 8.1, then it is essential that you have Windows 8.1 Upgrade 1.  This version fixes some of the major concerns most users have with Windows 8.  We are starting at Southern with Windows 8.1 Upgrade 1.

What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure  or VDI?
VDI is a system that puts a less expensive device with a screen, keyboard and mice in front of the user and connects to a virtual Windows computer that is hosted on a server in our data center.  We are running a VDI pilot in Logan A-211 this semester.  You will notice that there is no computer tower on the student stations in that room.  The devices installed there are called "thin clients" and the student is logging into a VDI server.  This gives us much better centralized management of the virtual computers.  For example, we can install a software application on the server one time and, immediately, every user that logs in to one of the thin clients will have that software on their virtual computer without our having to install it on every computer.  Only the student stations have a thin client.  The teacher's station is still a desktop computer, for performance reasons.