You probably can’t have helped but notice that Microsoft released their latest operating system, Windows 8.1, towards the end of last year. Most of the talk has been about the new look, and that alone has divided opinion in the Aspire office. But we’ve also started to find a few glitches that could have very serious consequences for Assistive Technology users.

We are currently upgrading our Assistive Technology equipment in Spinal Centres across the country. In doing so, we’ve encountered a few problems when trying to use some of our technology with the new version of Windows:

Integra Mouse – the old style Integra Mouse is not recognised by Windows 8.1. Trying to plug it in just results in an error message, and we’ve not been able to get past this. Whilst the new Integra Mouse Plus works fine, our advice to users with the old design is to steer clear of Windows 8 until Microsoft release a fix for the problem.

Smart Nav – if you are have a tablet or computer with a touch screen, you won’t be able to use Smart Nav as the cursor will disappear. You can workaround this by plugging in another mouse at the same time, whereupon the cursor will reappear and you can use Smart Nav as normal. But having to connect a spare mouse that just sits there unused is unlikely to be ideal. If you use Smart Nav, make sure you trial it with any new computer you are thinking of purchasing.

Dragon – the Plantronics Blackwire C310 USB headset, a set recommended by Nuance on their website, won’t work with Windows 8.1. We’ve tried a number of different headsets and not found another one that has this issue, but if you use Dragon we’d definitely recommend trialling it out with your preferred headset before you get that new computer or upgrading to Windows 8.1.

Andrew Kell, Aspire’s Assistive Technology Manager, says,

“It’s obviously worrying that upgrading your computer can possibly lead to you no longer being able to use it. We’ve been talking to manufacturers and keeping our eye out for other problems that might surface. At some point, there will be fixes issued to solve the problems but, in the meantime, try to make sure you test out the technology you use with the new system before you commit to buying it.”