Get Your Start Button Back: Windows 8.1 Preview Is Now Available To The Public For Free [Updates]

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Windows 8.1, the much-anticipated update to Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS, is now available to the public in a Preview version. The official update will be available later this year through the Windows Store as a free download for all Windows 8 users.

Windows 8.1 includes numerous new features, or as Microsoft puts it, more of everything. Windows 8.1 users will enjoy a new and improved search interface, an updated Start screen, new customization options, a re-designed Windows Store, enhanced multi-app functionalities, and more. While it’s not the most significant update of the lot, the reinstatement of the Start button to its old bottom left position is the one that’s the most exciting for many users.

Windows 8.1 Preview is available for anyone who wishes to try it, but Microsoft recommends that only experienced users who feel comfortable with backing up, restoring and troubleshooting their PC give it a go at this time. Microsoft states in its FAQ that “if you install the preview release, you’ll get to try out the many new features, but you might also encounter errors that you wouldn’t encounter using a released version of Windows”.

If you’re sure you want to try it anyway, start by backing up your PC, then head over to the Windows 8.1 Preview page and download the update. This is not Windows 8.1, but a small update that will allow Windows 8 to ask you to install the Windows 8.1 update. You will then be prompted to restart your PC, after which you’ll be asked to install the Windows 8.1 update from the Windows Store. Follow the instructions to complete the installation.

You can then provide Microsoft with feedback on the update, and help them improve it before the official release. Will you be getting Windows 8.1 right now? What do you think about this update?

Source: Windows 8.1, The Next Web

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Comments (11)
  • Henry

    I would get the Windows 8.1 preview, but wouldn’t it erase your programs when you get the full Windows 8.1? I’ll wait.

  • Vishal Srivastava

    Is Windows 8.1 available for upgrade for a Windows 7 user? I didn’t upgrade to Windows 8 on my laptop because I really missed the start button (even though I could have done it by paying less than $10). Now that start is back, I want to give 8.1 a try and upgrade from 7 (paying $10 now will be fine).

    • Henry

      The start menu isn’t really back, just the start button.

    • Simon

      just install classic shell add-on for win 7 and 8.. gets you everything
      back and can make it look like XP or vista or classic menus all again.
      theres a addon to bring back desktop gadgets too

    • Yaara Lancet

      I’m pretty sure you need to upgrade to 8 first to get the 8.1 update. At the moment, at least, it’s like a free Windows update available from the app store. I don’t think you can even access it on Windows 7.

      Upon the official release, I assume you will be able to buy Windows 8.1 just like you can buy Windows 8 now, but I doubt it will cost $10…

  • Daniel J. Karas

    Haven’t tried it out yet; Do they now let you run more than one Win8 application at a time? You know, like … multitasking?

    • Ray Herring

      Win 8 Pro has always let you do that. Win8 RT might not have, but who really runs that?

  • Kelly

    I really love 8.1 features! Start screen looks more lively with all the new customization options. I can now boot to desktop and disable certain hot corners. I really like how they added a right click menu for all common tasks from the start button. This is how Windows 8 should have been released.

    • Srivatsan V

      …Windows 8 always had the “right click menu” on the “start button”. You just right-click in the bottom left corner of the screen…

  • Justin Dennis

    I would get the Windows 8.1 Preview… but it’s not available for newer Atom-based devices :(

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/not-supported-tablets-pcs

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.