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windows 8.1 start screenAre you curious to try the refined version of Microsoft’s controversial Windows Has Windows 8 Failed in the Market, or Only in Your Mind? Has Windows 8 Failed in the Market, or Only in Your Mind? Is Windows 8 a failure? People who dislike Windows 8 generally say it is. But has Windows 8 really failed in the marketplace, or do we just think Windows 8 has failed? One thing's for... Read More 8? Anyone using Windows 8 can now upgrade to a preview version of Windows 8.1 for free. This update refines Windows 8, giving keyboard and mouse users important interface improvements and making the Modern interface more powerful. Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been.

Note that you can’t downgrade back to Windows 8 without completely reinstalling your operating system from Windows 8 installation media How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick If you’re looking to install Windows 8 and your computer doesn't have a DVD drive, you’re not alone. Whether you have a Windows 8 DVD or a Windows 8 ISO file you've downloaded from Microsoft,... Read More or a recovery drive How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More . Windows 8.1 is also not a final, stable version, so you may experience bugs and crashes. You shouldn’t install Windows 8.1 on your primary computer — it’s best confined to computers you can afford to experiment with and virtual machines What Is a Virtual Machine? What Is a Virtual Machine? Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems within your current operating system, but why does that matter? What are the pros and cons? Read More .

How to Upgrade

You can download and install a Windows 8.1 Preview ISO file to upgrade straight to Windows 8.1 if you’re still on Windows 7. However, we’ll assume you want to upgrade an existing Windows 8 system to Windows 8.1.

First, open this web page on the Windows 8 system you want to upgrade. Click the Get the update button and run the small program. This program will make Windows 8.1 available from the Windows Store.

If you’re using an English language version of Windows 8, your system language How To Change The System Language in Windows 8 How To Change The System Language in Windows 8 Changing the system language in Windows 8 can be a complicated process, especially if you don't understand the current language. If you've sat down at a Windows computer and found it's in an unfamiliar language,... Read More must be set to US English. You can find a full list of supported languages on the Windows 8 preview page — be sure to set your system to any of the supported languages. If you’re using another regional variant, like UK English, this program won’t install. Windows 8.1 is also not yet available as an update for Windows 8 Enterprise, only the standard and Professional editions of Windows 8.

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After you run the updater, you’ll see an “Installation Complete” message that prompts you to restart your computer. Windows 8.1 isn’t actually installed yet. Just click the Restart Now button to restart your computer.

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Log into your computer after it boots back up and you’ll see a “Get Windows 8.1 Preview for free” message on your Start screen. Click the Go to the Store button and you’ll be taken to the Windows Store, where you can download the Windows 8.1 update. When the final version of Windows 8.1 is released, all users will likely see a message like this one.

get-windows-8.1-preview-for-free-message

Click or tap the Download button as if you were downloading any Modern app What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? Read More from the Windows Store. Windows will download and install the Windows 8.1 update. It’s several gigabytes in size, so you’ll have to wait a while. After the download process is complete, Windows will install the Windows 8.1 update and reboot your system. The rest of the setup process will happen automatically.

Sign into Windows after the update process is complete and you’ll see a few screens asking you for settings, including a new screen that asks you whether you want to enable Windows 8.1’s new deep SkyDrive integration. SkyDrive isn’t separate from Windows 8’s sync features How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud Logging into your Windows 8 computers with a Microsoft account enables access to the Windows Store and other Modern apps, but it's also used to sync Windows 8 settings with the Cloud. Your settings will... Read More anymore — it’s integrated.

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What To Expect From Windows 8.1

Whether you’re upgrading now or waiting until the final version of Windows 8.1, there are big changes awaiting you. Microsoft has made many changes, from tweaks to the way the desktop works and a more comprehensive PC Settings app to changes to the Modern interface and a collection of updates to the many included Modern apps. We can’t possibly cover them all, but we’ll hit on some of the big ones.

Desktop Improvements

Windows 8 restores a Start button to the desktop, allows you to boot to the desktop, and allows you to disable the upper hot corners for the app switcher and charms bar. The new Start button just opens the Start screen, but you can set the Start screen to use your desktop background, making it less jarring. You can also set the All Apps view to automatically open at the Start screen and place your desktop apps first in the list, so you never even have to see the live tiles. The right-click power user menu Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Windows 8 is all about shortcuts. People with touch-enabled PCs use touch gestures, users without touch devices must learn the mouse shortcuts, power users use keyboard shortcuts on the desktop and novel command-line shortcuts, and... Read More now has Shut Down How To Shut Down Windows 8 How To Shut Down Windows 8 Windows 8 brings the biggest changes to the familiar Windows interface since Windows 95. The Shut Down option isn’t where you’d expect to find it – in fact, the entire classic Start menu and Start... Read More and Restart options, while universal search of your apps, settings, and files is now restored. If you really want a traditional Start menu, Start8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More still works with Windows 8.1.

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Modern UI Improvements

The Snap feature is now much more useful, so you can snap two apps in 50/50 view and have them each take up half your screen. You can also Snap up to four apps at once on larger displays. The search interface has been revamped and now offers detailed Bing search results. Many of the included Modern apps have been updated and redesigned.

windows-8.1-snap

SkyDrive Integration

SkyDrive is more integrated into Windows 8, both in the PC Settings app where it’s now a Sync option and in the desktop, where it’s available in File Explorer. SkyDrive no longer syncs all your files to your PC, but gives you access to them and allows you to make certain files available offline — perfect for devices with small amounts of local storage assuming you have a lot of files in the SkyDrive cloud.

windows-blue-skydrive-in-file-explorer

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is a big improvement, particularly in the Modern interface, where it can now open more than 10 tabs at once. IE 11 also offers tab sync across Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone. Websites pinned to your Start screen can function as live tiles. Under the hood, Internet Explorer 11 now offers support for WebGL and SPDY, allowing websites to use 3D graphics and faster connections. You can now open multiple copies of a Modern app, which is particularly useful for IE — you can have two web pages side-by-side in Modern IE, for example.

App Updates

The Windows Store and Xbox Music have seen the biggest updates and now have interfaces that are much better thought out than the half-baked ones introduced with Windows 8. Microsoft has also added Alarms, Calculator, Sound Recorder, Health & Fitness, and Food & Drink apps. The Messaging app will be replaced by Skype. There’s also a Help app included to help new users get to grips with Windows 8, although it isn’t working yet.

new-windows-store-app

Windows 8 also includes native support for 3D printers What Is 3D Printing And How Exactly Does It Work? What Is 3D Printing And How Exactly Does It Work? Imagine if you could print out three-dimensional objects straight from a printer in your home. When I was a kid in primary school, I thought it would be awesome if I could print pizzas out... Read More and Intel’s Miracast wireless display streaming — think of it like an open standard to rival Apple’s AirPlay What's AirPlay, And How To Use It In Mac OS X Mountain Lion What's AirPlay, And How To Use It In Mac OS X Mountain Lion Imagine you want to play your favorite album in Spotify. Naturally, you'll be hooking your computer up to a better sound station. But what if you're lying in bed, or sitting on the couch? Ideally,... Read More . More feature will likely be rolled out soon, particularly to Microsoft’s Modern apps.

The final version of Windows 8.1 is scheduled for release in late 2013, but Microsoft hasn’t announced a concrete date yet.

Have you upgraded to Windows 8.1 yet? If you didn’t like Windows 8, are these changes enough to make you want to upgrade? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

  1. sid
    October 2, 2013 at 3:38 am

    what would be the complete size of updating windows 8 to 8.1 in gb...?

  2. Sri Vastav R
    July 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    i love windows 8....
    i would definitely update it..
    :)

  3. Christine S
    July 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    this is a really good article and i see several questions, including mine that if you don't mind answering it would really help., thanks christine

  4. Christine S
    July 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    actually i was just about to do the install and thought i better see if MUO has any suggestions, do you know how much usb memory i will need just in case i want windows 8 back, and if i do this pre installation when the for real version comes out will i have to pay for it? first i guess i should see if i have a recovery partition. and hope for the best, thanks for all your contributions towards the new windows 8 and now 8.1 wait chris hoffman?, christian cawley?, ok the both of you have helped me tremendously, thanks christine Ha, chris' cubed

  5. Jennifer Arnett
    July 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    When will the final version of 8.1 be available? I just got 8.0 and want to upgrade, but it's my main computer and I don't want a buggy version. Thanks.

  6. Rishi Soni
    July 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    sir i have registered version of windows 8 pro and i want to ask that is windows 8.1 is only for preview or i have to buy it or i can just upgrade by following these simple steps?

    • Rizki Kurniawan
      July 13, 2013 at 5:30 am

      Windows 8.1 is a preview for future upgrade of Windows 8.
      Once Windows 8.1 Final Released, all Windows 8 existing users will get the update for free.

      @Chris for non-RT Windows 8, can the preview updated into final as soon as it released?

  7. Danyal
    July 11, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I'm using Windows 8 Professional edition. I'm using the upgrading method but after my computer restarts, I don't see any pop up saying "Get Windows 8.1 Preview for free", what's wrong? Can you please reply ASAP?

  8. Norman S
    July 10, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Can you undo this if you do not like it. I suppose you could set a restore point before you make this change.

    • Richard M
      July 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I tried to do the update from 8.0 to 8.1 through the windows store. It failed. No problem though. The 8.1 updater restored everything to 8.0 without a hitch. I wish it would have at least explained why it couldn't be updated from 8.0. (I'm using OEM 8.0 pro 64bit English and had a macrium reflect backup ready to go if things had gone REALLY bad.).

  9. John Newton
    July 10, 2013 at 4:02 am

    did the window 8.1 fix the bubble screensaver to be transparent?

  10. Henry L
    July 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    what happens when I install the full 8.1? will my programs be erased?

    • Tomasz J
      July 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      You can read the FAQ - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/preview-faq . It`s says that you should have most of your software after updating OS to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8, but if you use ISO file, you won`t be able to keep your apps.

    • Bruno
      August 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

      in my case when I upgraded from windows 8 to windows 8.1 all non microsoft programs were gone and what surprised me mostly was the fact that microsoft office 2013 was also gone! That was quite shock. So if somebody have microsoft office preinstalled on his/her notebook from shop without product key or installation media I have no idea what then...

  11. Saturday S
    July 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Any idea if the final update will be avoidable if you're happy with Win8 the way it is and don't want to waste resources on Microsoft "essentials"?

  12. dev
    July 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I am using windows 7 and wish to upgrade to 8.1 as you mentioned,
    I want to know that how much will it cost to me? I mean, will microsoft ask for any charge ?
    and also, is it a 30 day trial or something ?
    please let me know if you are aware of it, that can be great help to me.

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