Dell Venue 8 Pro Setup Journey

Dell Venue 8 Pro Setup

by BionicProfessor

Updated 20 June 2015

Jump to the Windows 10 upgrade

Prologue

I have harvested the basis of this information from so very many weblogs that they are far to numerous to list. Thanks to all of those authors.

Your millage may vary (YMMV) with these as it seems that there are several bios available and there was Windows 8, now Windows 8.1, and soon Windows 10. Your on your own, I’ll not be accountable for your machine, but I have made the effort to make the following guidelines work when no keyboard, tracking device, pen, or external monitor is attached unless I explicitly state otherwise. This was a major source of frustration in so many of the blogs.

Finally, I feel compelled to state that I was, WAS, a power user of Windows OS in the past, but I am now spending most of my time on BSD/UNIX machines, especially the OS X variety.

I really forgot just how much effort is expended in fussing to get things to work in the Windows infrastructure. That is not completely a criminal indictment, since I do enjoy technological puzzles.

My Hardware

My Venue 8 Pro is a 5000 series (5380) that comes installed with Windows 8.1. I purchased the 32GB version. The storage size selection was on advice from a colleague who uses his Venue as a primary machine in an academic University setting. To be fair he attaches to dual monitors, keyboard, printer, and a mouse for most of the day in his office.

The thinking behind the 32GB instead of the 64GB model was that expansion is possible with insertion of a microSD card. The 32GB was 55% the price of the 64GB version, and probably a fair differential in costs. Time will tell, because time is money.

To increase the storage, I purchased a 64GB SanDisk microSDXC UHS-I card with adapter (SDSDQUP-064G-AW46A). SanDisk packaging boasts speeds up to 48 MB/s or 320x. It is seldom that these cards live up to the maximum advertised speeds. I did have other choices. I have had good experiences with SanDisk and this was one of two I considered when in the local smaller town WallyWorld store. The other was the SanDisk Extreme version. I have been exceptionally pleased with my SanDisk Extreme 3.0 64GB sticks. The Extremes do live up to the advertised speeds, but I did not opt for the Extreme microSD. Time will tell if I will regret this decision.

microSDXC format

My first stumble was with the microSDXC card. It came pre-formatted as exFAT. I placed it in the adapter and slipped it in my MacMini. I created some folders and populated the folders thinking that I might save some time and download bandwidth.

The goal is to use some amalgam of OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google’s Drive to get files on, and off, the tablet. This would be in addition to getting a microB USB male to USB female adapter, not included with purchase. This device is limited to USB 2.0. While that is very slow by 2015 standards, it does have USB access.

Upon inserting the microSDXC the Windows 8.1 recognized the card and mounted it happily. I even installed a program from an EXE on the microSDXC. My disappointment surfaced when I installed Dropbox. I instructed Dropbox to put its storage folder on the D: drive that was the microSDXC and it refused without a clear explanation. I then attempted to move the Microsoft OneDrive from the C: drive to the D: drive. The operating system again refused, but this time it returned more information, informing me that it expected the drive to be formatted as NTFS.

Therefore, I uninstalled Dropbox and reformatted the D: drive to NTFS. This wiped out anything on the drive. I then reinstalled Dropbox and OneDrive on the C: drive. I also installed, or said yes, to the Office 365 install. I already had a subscription so I am unsure if I am now on the trial or just using my subscription. With this Office 365 subscription comes an increase in OneDrive size from 15GB to 1TB.

Update July 3, 2015: I had to reset the entire device. I kept having problems with the Dell Wireless 1538 802.11 a/g/n Adapter. It would throw device problems after waking from sleep and would not connect to despite all manor of attempts to revive it.  It was Qualcomm Atheros 3.7.2.59A04 dated 9/24/2014 before the reset and I believe I had allowed the update. After the reset the Dell Wireless 1538 802.11 a/g/n Adapter’s driver provider is Qualcomm Atheros 3.7.2.45425 dated 9/29/2013.

I also uninstalled PocketSync since it is abandoned by Dell at the end of June 2015.

Below is mostly a How-To for my record so I, or you, can retrace my steps.

Warning the Charms menu (available by swiping left from the right edge of the screen) changes based on what app you have been using last. These instructions are geared to having no prior apps open. To achieve this state go to the Metro Start choose Desktop, and close any apps, programs, or windows by right clicking and choosing Close Window. This does not include unpinning programs from the task bar (lefthand bottom) or trying to remove items from the system tray (right hand bottom).

Get the SD Card seen as Permanent Storage

  1. Create a directory (File Folder) on (under) the C: Drive. I called it SDCard. Thus C:\SDCard
  2. Open Disk Manager in Windows – swipe from the right of the screen and select Settings, then select Control Panel, ensure that this Windows View by: Category, then select System and Security and look at the bottom for Administrative Tools, but do not select it and instead choose Create and format hard disk partitions that is under that heading.
  3. Right-click on your SD Card and click Change Drive Letter and Paths… (I had trouble here because my fingers are fat and I sometimes mistakenly got the Format menu, but by canceling and going back I was able to eventually get the proper selection)
  4. Click Add…
  5. In the Add a new drive letter or path for X: (Where X is the drive letter represented by your SD Card) select the radio Mount in the following empty NTFS folder:.
  6. Click Browse…and navigate to the directory that you created.  Click OK.
  7. You should now be ready to proceed.  To be sure, right-click on your SD card again and click Change Drive Letter and Paths… (mine now shows both D: and OS (C:) \SDCard where SDCard is what I named the empty directory (File Folder) under/in the C: drive in step 1).
  8. The SD Card has both a drive letter and the mount point on the C: drive. If this is what you see then you are ready to proceed. Cancel out of this window and close the Disk Management console.

SD Card Better Performance via Removal Policy

  1. Swipe out the charms menu (from the right edge of the screen)
  2. Select Settings
  3. Choose Control Panel
  4. Select System and Security — assumes that the Control Panel is View By: Category 
  5. Under the heading Administrative Tools choose Create and format hard disk partitions
  6. From the right select menu (hold a little longer then release) for the SD card in the Volume column choose Properties
  7. Select the Hardware tab — the name should be recognizable as you SD card
  8. Choose Properties
  9. Choose Policies
  10. Select the Better Performance radio button
  11. Choose OK on the windows or choose the red x to close all windows

If you wish to remove the card you should stop all processes accessing the card and eject it. One fairly safe way to pul the card out and mount it on another device is to shutdown the Venue completely prior to removing the card. For sure, the following instructions for Dropbox would necessitate stopping, quoting, Dropbox prior to ejecting the SDCard. Same goes for OneDrive if its files are moved to the SDCard.

Relocate OneDrive to microSDXC

It is relatively painless to move OneDrive storage. Cannot use mount point path of the empty folder created on the C: drive that was required for the Dropbox program because mount points cannot be indexed and OneDrive requires indexing. 

  1. Right click OneDrive in File Explorer and choose Properties. Click the Location tab and specify a location for the OneDrive folder. For me this was at the microSDXC at the root of the drive, D:\OneDrive. I said yes to moving the files since Windows 8.1 set up OneDive for me. This took awhile. If you reset the Venue back to factory settings you will have data on the SDCard already. Moving OneDrive back to that folder will prompt a response from you about overwriting the files on the SDCard. I had no new files being added during the time it took to rest the Venue and get to the point of moving the OneDrive folder location that I simply said yes to allowing the over-right.
  2. Optionally, long-click again, if it is the OneDrive folder, and select “Make Available Offline” to download your entire drive to the tablet.

Tip: for users coming from more advanced/friendly iOS touch operating system, touch and hold a little longer to invoke the right click menu in the touch interface of Windows 8.1.

Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse

Wow, the impression of the Windows 8.1 touch interface is that it is really not as refined as it is with iOS. Especially for all the dialog boxes that are Desktop in nature. The new Metro Apps seem to be somewhat better suited to the touch screen, but when serious Desktop interaction is necessary there is really no substitute for a keyboard and pointing device with Windows 8.1. Fortunately, Bluetooth is available. If the Venue appears to be cranky about cooperating with your Bluetooth devices and the Windows 8.1 returns a polite “That didn’t work” statement and prompts to “Try again, and make sure your keyboard is still discoverable,” press the discoverable button longer on the device. I tested this with the Microsoft Arc Touch BT Mouse and the Logitech Keys-To-Go and they connected readily once the device was truly in “discoverable” mode.

  1. Swipe out the charms menu (from the right edge of the screen)
  2. select Settings
  3. Choose Change PC Settings
  4. On the left hand side is a menu, choose PC and devices
  5. Choose Bluetooth
  6. In the Manage Bluetooth devices window select the device and follow the paring instructions.

Dropbox

To be clear this is the program Dropbox downloaded from the Dropbox website. The Windows programs are now being referred to –perhaps incorrectly?– as apps. Some distinction must be made because the new Windows Metro style apps are not the same as the Dropbox program. Dropbox offers both flavors. The Metro Dropbox app is available from the Windows Store. The information in the Windows Store says that the Dropbox Metro app can also be installed at the same time as the Windows program (app) that is available from Dropbox’s website.

The description in the Windows Store states that both the Program and the app can be installed and coexist. I am unsure at this point about the utility of the Metro app, but the app looks like it is more suited as a conduit for other apps to access Dropbox. This is similar to the iOS Dropbox app in concept is suppose, but as of this writing (June 2015) I believe the iOS app is considerable more advanced and robust, YMMV.

I have installed the Dropbox Desktop –though not only for Desktops, and perfectly functional on laptops, notebooks, and tablets– app because it allows syncing and local storage. I use this application across another infrastructure, OS X and iOS.

I installed the Windows program and when I go to the Metro app it says Dropbox is already installed. I am pleased that I installed the “Desktop” program first because, if I was stuck with only the Metro app, I would be very unhappy. Eventually, I was successful at installing both the Desktop program and the Metro app. Seems as though the OS (Windows 8.1) is twitchy about installing a Metro app and the Desktop program together. I have not run across blogs describing this, so, perhaps this twitchiness something in my setup.

This “Desktop” program of Dropbox is more persnickety. It could only be moved to the mapped empty folder on the C: drive and not to the drive itself as the OneDrive allowed. Map to the mount point path of the empty folder created on the C: drive, mine was Map to the mount point path of the empty folder created on the C: drive, mine was OS (C:) \SDCard. .

  1. If you have already installed Dropbox and have it syncing to the C: drive (I had). From the Metro Start interface, choose Desktop, then choose the Dropbox icon in the System Tray –lower right of the Desktop– and select the setup icon –upper right of the window– and then choose Preferences. Choose Account and adjust the Dropbox file location by navigating to Map to the mount point path of the empty folder created on the C: drive, mine was OS (C:) \SDCard in File Explorer. Time is require to move files already synced.

Putting Dropbox files on the removable media means that items deleted will also not show up in the Trash but instead will be deleted immediately. 

Relocate User Folders to microSDXC

  1. Swipe out the charms menu (from the right edge of the screen)
  2. Choose Desktop
  3. Choose File Explorer –from the Desktop it is the folder icon in the Taskbar
  4. Right-click (longer click) on each of the user folders
  5. Choose Properties
  6. Select the Location tab
  7. Drag the Document Properties Window toward the top of the display in horizontal mode
  8. Open the onscreen keyboard from the lower right System Tray
  9. Change the C:\ to the drive letter for the microSD, in my case D:\Folder Name. So, what was C:\Users\BionicProfessor\Document
  10. Choose Apply (you may get millage out of hitting enter on the keyboard instead). In horizontal mode I had to close the keyboard before the next step.
  11. Choose Yes to create the folder
  12. Choose Yes to move content
  13. Choose OK to close (system may hang for a minute)

Automatic Screen Brightness – Yuck!

This is terrible! I needed to turn this off!

  1. Swipe out the charms menu (from the right edge of the screen)
  2. select Settings
  3. Select Change PC Settings on the bottom.
  4. Select PC and Devices.
  5. Select Power and Sleep.
  6. Set Adjust my screen brightness automatically to Off.

When in desktop mode, choosing the power icon in lower right of display allows manual adjustment of screen brightness.

Turn off Automatic Microsoft Updates
Check for Microsoft Updates Manually

If you did not opt out of Microsoft and Dell automatic updates when you set up your Venue the section describes how to take back control of what gets downloaded and installed and when. I choose to leave automatic updates off when I preformed a reset.

  1. Swipe out the charms menu (from the right edge of the screen)
  2. select Settings
  3. Choose Change PC Settings
  4. Choose Update and Recovery
  5. Tap or click Choose how updates get installed
  6. Under Important updates, choose the option that you want
    These can be toggled between them, but these take GB’s of data that linger for weeks of not managed actively.
    Use the Never check for updates (not recommended) for economy of space.

At this point I can check for updates manually

I will likely change to Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them option once things settle down and I understand the C: drive usage better. When I do that I will likely alter the following:

  1. Under Recommended updatesselect the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates check box.

  2. Under Microsoft Update, select the Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows check box, and then tap or click Apply.

Delete Downloaded Microsoft update files

It stores update files on the drive at:

 C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download

You may have to first take ownership of the folder prior to deleting the files and folders within this Download folder. To accomplish this use the right click menu and look under the security tab. However, I did not need to change my security to delete the files. This reclaimed about 0.5GB for me (YMMV).

Run Disk Cleanup

This does the C: drive

  1. Swipe out the charms menu (from the right edge of the screen)
  2. Select Settings
  3. Choose Control Panel
  4. Select System and Security — assumes that the Control Panel is View By: Category 
  5. Under the heading Administrative Tools choose Free up disk space
  6. Choose Clean up system files
  7. Repeat steps 1-5 above and choose OK

Stardock

To have the traditional pre-Windows 8 experience I installed Start8. Start8 provides the traditional start menu on the desktop. I also installed ModernMix available from Stardock. Both were installed to make Windows 8 palatable on another machine.

These are not strictly necessary. I may uninstall them and test my satisfaction with Windows 8.1 since 8.1 should have addressed some of the shortcomings in Windows 8. Then again Windows 10 is right around the corner. What ever happened to Windows 9?

Java

I had to install Java in support of a program (SoftChalk). This was not a friendly install. The Oracle install comes across heavy handed and not unlike a car salesman. I was looking to install it on the microSDXS card and during the install there was a small check box to alert the install script of my intentions. Sad that changing the install location, once the script arrived at that point, was so difficult. It just dumped me at a input box with the suggested path. Creating a new path from the microSDXS, D: drive for my install, was not easy. Other install scripts allowed placing a cursor in that old path and altering the default C: to D: and then when moving on they would alert that the folders did not exist and offer to create the folders. Not so with the Oracle install script. Punishment for not sticking with the herd. I should have written down the suggested folder name since I may need to search for it based on information from web pages latter. So, have a pad and writing stick handy when doing this install.

The result of putting Java on the microSDXS card is halting, and slow, performance. Again, at a junction like this I have to wonder how this mix of hardware and software survives when they compete with iOS devices. The answer is that there is no SoftChalk version that runs on iOS devices. I am now asking myself, “Do I need Softchalk?”

I will proceed. I can always uninstall these, but what a massive time sink to get these ill mannered softwares to play nice. The folks at Apple must be laughing themselves into stomach cramps over this Windows on the tablet experience.

Addendum to the Java install is that Internet Explorer suggests disabling and/or uninstalling because this configuration is laggy and impacting performance. Perhaps I should have opted for the 64GB version after all?

Is technology building a better professor?

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