Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

Windows 8.1 is going to be available to all Windows 8 users as a free upgrade in less than a month, on October 18. Windows 8.1 makes significant changes to Windows 8 and it’s a worthy upgrade whether you’re using Windows 8 on a desktop PC, a tablet, or something in between. How you’ll upgrade depends on which version of Windows you’re upgrading from — Windows 7, Windows 8, or even the Windows 8.1 preview release.

Is Windows 8.1 worth upgrading to from Windows 7? That’s a tough question and everyone has a different opinion, especially given Microsoft isn’t offering cheap upgrades anymore. At $120, you could get a lot more bang for your buck by upgrading your PC’s hardware — or just put that cash towards a new PC with touch that will run Windows 8.1 better.

Is it worth upgrading to from Windows 8? Yes, absolutely. Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been. The Modern interface isn’t as half-baked, while desktop users have been tossed a few bones that make it easier to ignore all the new Modern stuff.

If You’re Upgrading From Windows 7 or Earlier

Many people have said that Windows 8.1 finally makes it possible to leave Windows 7 behind. It has an option to boot to the desktop and restores a Start button. The button just loads the full-screen Start screen, but you can configure the Start screen to display a list of your desktop apps and never again see a single tile,  live or otherwise.

However, you can’t upgrade directly from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. You have two options: You can upgrade your system to Windows 8 now and then upgrade to Windows 8.1 when it’s available, keeping all your installed applications and files. Or, you can perform a clean install of Windows 8.1 over Windows 7, losing your desktop applications.

  • If You Want to Perform an Upgrade Install: Upgrade to Windows 8 before Windows 8.1 is available. You’ll then be able to upgrade directly to Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store when it’s released.
  • If You Want to Perform a Clean Install: Back up your important files and make a list of all the programs you’ll want to install on Windows 8. You could even download their installers before Windows 8.1 is released, making the upgrade process faster.

install windows 8 from setup exe   Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

If you’re upgrading from Windows Vista or XP, you’ll need to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1 — unless you feel like upgrading to Windows 7 first, upgrading to Windows 8, and then finally upgrading to Windows 8.1

If You’re Upgrading From Windows 8

Windows 8 users have it easy. Windows 8.1 will be available from the Windows Store — yes, that’s the Store app in the Modern Windows 8 environment — as a free upgrade. It will download and install without you requiring any payment or preparation of installation media.

Because it will be available from the Windows Store, you’ll need to ensure you’re using a Microsoft account to log into Windows, not a local user account. This was required for the Windows 8.1 Preview release, so it’s a good bet that Microsoft will mandate Microsoft accounts for upgrades when Windows 8.1 is officially released. You should still be able to download Windows 8.1 installation media and perform clean installs with it, but upgrading without a reinstall seems to require a Microsoft account.

You’ll want to switch your local user account to a Microsoft account ahead of time so you can download the update. Ensure you’re using a Microsoft account by opening the Modern PC Settings app (press Windows Key + C to access the charms, select Settings, and select Change PC settings), selecting Users, and checking your user account. If you see a button allowing you to switch to a local account, you’re already using a Microsoft account.

windows 8 microsoft account   Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

If you really don’t want to use a Microsoft account, you could add a new, separate Microsoft account to your PC. When upgrade day comes, sign in as that account, access the Store, and upgrade to Windows 8.1. You should then be able to delete the Microsoft account from your system and go back to using your local user account on Windows 8.1.

If You’re Upgrading From the Windows 8.1 Preview

Were you one of the brave souls who installed the Windows 8.1 Preview release on your computer? If so, we hope you read the fine print. Microsoft stated that Windows 8.1 Preview users wouldn’t be able to upgrade directly to the Windows 8.1 final release. Well, they actually can upgrade — they’ll just lose all their isntalled desktop programs. Upgrading from Windows 8.1 Preview to the final version of Windows 8.1 will effectively perform a “Refresh Your PC” operation, which will wipe away all your desktop programs. You’ll have to reinstall them later.

If you want to get ready to upgrade from the Preview release to the final release, you can download your desktop programs’ installers ahead of time and ensure you have any physical discs you need. You can then quickly re-install your desktop programs after the upgrade. If you use Steam for PC games, you can copy your Steam folder to a backup location and then restore it without having to re-download all your games.

get windows 8.1 preview for free message   Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

Of course, any Windows user can upgrade to Windows 8 by just performing a clean install with a Windows 8.1 disc or USB stick and replacing their existing Windows system with it. If you want to do this, be sure you have backup copies of your important files. You can also get up and running more quickly by downloading installers for your preferred programs, backing up any installed PC games to avoid long downloads, and gathering any software installation discs you still use.

Do you plan on upgrading to Windows 8.1 when it’s released? If so, what version of Windows do you plan on upgrading from? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Image Credit: Dell Inc. on Flickr (modified)

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37 Comments -

1 votes

Aðalbjörn Tryggvason

Upgraded all my home computers. Best is clean install.

1 votes

Brian H

There’s really nothing about Windows 8 that necessitates the need for me to upgrade from Windows 7 and most people that I talk to say the same. My feeling is that Windows 7 will become the next XP in regards to how long people will continue to run it. Will it last 14 years? Hard to say but unless Microsoft does something to its next OS that really makes it stand out I think Windows 7 will remain dominant. It doesn’t help that Microsoft is making IE 11 for Windows 7 either. It just goes to show that even Microsoft has some doubts about Windows 8 acceptance if they are willing to continue to add new features to their older OS. The learning curve for Windows is is so dramatically different from XP and Windows 7 is still close enough to XP in how it works (such as a “real’ Start menu) that users will continue to prefer what is more familiar and easier to use. No one wants to learn a new OS – especially if it’s for work use. People in the business world don’t have the time or the resources to deal with such a dramatic change that in reality brings nothing new to the table and will only add more work to an IT department who has already wasted valuable time and money to migrate from XP to 7 just a few short years ago..

0 votes

WorknMan

If you look in Wikipedia, you’ll see there’s quite a few new features on the desktop side in Windows 8 that made it worth the $40 upgrade they were charging, IMO. Of course, Metro is crap, but you ignore that and stay on the desktop, it is hands down a better OS than Windows 7, and after having used it for a year now, I’d never go back.

Just the other day, I was on my second PC which still runs Windows 7, and I wanted to mount a DVD movie ISO so I could rip it to watch on my tablet. Instead of being able to mount it natively like I do in Windows 8, I had to install Daemon Tools. There’s a lot of little things like that.

I don’t know much about 8.1 other than the goofy Metro crap they’re adding in, but I did hear it will support miracast and direct wifi printing, so for the price of free, I’ll take it :)

1 votes

Phil

I’m on 8.1 and loving it now, though when I upgraded I’m pretty sure the information said you would need to reinstall your apps. it didn’t specify desktop programs like in the article here. Are you sure that’s the case?

0 votes

Keith Brooks

I’m upgrading from Windows 8 Pro with Media Center x64 to 8.1 Pro with Media Center x64. I plan on doing a clean install instead of a upgrade install. I’m sure there are change’s to the space needed for the system reserved partition. In Windows 7 it needed 100 or 150 mbs. In Windows 8 it needed 300 or 350 mbs. Nobody’s mentioned how much space 8.1 need’s, but it’s probably more.

0 votes

Chuck Houser

Keith do you have to buy a new copy of 8.1 to do a clean install? My understanding is the upgrade from the the windows store is the only free way to do it.
Chuck

0 votes

Victor O

There is a way to upgrade:
http://www.askvg.com/how-to-upgrade-from-windows-7-rc-to-rtm-build/

You need to do some editing of config files, but you can upgrade from the release preview to the official version.

0 votes

Eric B

I’m upgrading from Windows 8.0 x64. If something goes wrong I’ll just do a clean install. I have the needed backups.

0 votes

Keith Brooks

Chuck: Not if you have Windows 8. 8.1 is free for Windows 8 user’s. For XP, Vista and 7 user’s it’s considered a upgrade and will cost $119.99 for 8.1 and $199.99 for 8.1 Pro.

0 votes

Richard Lewis

I partitioned my hard drive and am running Vista and the free preview of 8.1, which I find kind of interesting, but certainly not a necessity. In this article, you state you can upgrade to the official version of 8.1. Is that a free upgrade, if not, the 8.1 preview seems to run just fine.

0 votes

shaibal sinha

if i want to upgrade to windows 8.1 from windows 8 then it make available from windows store…..isn’t ?then i download from store and install it…
after installation, suppose my system needs to format in some days,then again i should download it and install it……

is their any option for windows 8 users that they can get a copy of windows 8.1 and use it when he needs to clean install the system…..

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

Yes, just get it from ThePirateBay.sx. It’s legal if you already own the software and use your own product key (for 8, cause Windows 8 product keys will most likely work on Windows 8.1)

0 votes

A.K.Nandan

ya there is another option to avoid again and again installation

1st u go http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/windows-81-tip-download-windows-81-iso-windows-8-product-key

2 click on install windows 8 installer will install in ur system than run setup..they ask for key enter ur windows 8 key after inserting windows 8 now start to download just close set-up when start downoading.

3. now go again above link this time u click on install windows 8.1 here u see insert key option will skip now start download windows 8.1 after full installation create media

and enjoy ur formating every time u dont download windows 8.1 update beacuse u have Windows 8.1 DVD

0 votes
0 votes

Flemming Hansen

Remember Miracast support. Even for AMD chips. Just one improovement worh the upgrade. Wireless HDMI.

The list goes on. Read other reviews.

0 votes

Mike

My laptop is running pre-installed Windows 8 and has a Windows 8 recovery partition. When I upgrade to Windows 8.1, will the recovery partition be updated to 8.1. In other words, after upgrading to 8.1, if I perform a refresh or restore, will I get 8.1 or will I get 8.0 and need to upgrade again? If I make a backup CD or USB drive, will it be 8.0 or 8.1?

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

I don’t know, it may glitch out. MAKE A BACKUP MEDIA BEFORE THE UPDATE!!! ALL FUNCTIONALITY FROM THE PARTITION WILL BE REMOVED!!

0 votes

James

directx 11.2

0 votes

Ahmed

Still on Windows 8 and can’t wait for the 8.1, i’ve test it and play around with it in Virtual machine and yes its pretty much more better then windows 7 i guess win7 users says its not better cause they hate changes they are just used to it, but if you ask an OS lover (those how use Linux and so on) they have to say yes till now windows 8 and 8.1 are the best, i’ve been using it for a year now and its the best OS ever used yes the best no Linux destro can make it.

0 votes

shaun

very interesting,nice to know little things.

0 votes

tom

I had a Win 8 computer briefly that had a hard disk hardware issue so returned it after only a couple weeks. I then bought a more robust system that had Win 7 installed. I could not believe how much slower/laggy it felt. I then upgraded it back to Win 8 and that speed I missed came back. As this was a desktop computer I will admit Win 8 both took time to get used to and could be a bit cumbersome hopping between desktop and tiles. I then installed Win 8.1 Preview months ago and with the customizations to launch directly to a desktop as well as a 3rd party app that allows me to convert tiled apps to desktop applications I now have the best of all worlds. It is snappy, apps (like news, weather, etc…) are easily accessed on the desktop, the Start button right-click functionality lets me hop quickly to a number of power-user tools, hitting the Windows button to immediately see all available applications (nicely sorted) if I do not already have them pinned to the task bar… all told, it is just a much slicker system than Win 7, even for a desktop. Ideally Win 8.1 would have that tiled app to desktop application converter built in, but the fact it exists really addresses the the one opportunity to really make Win 8.1 stand out above Win 7 (not to mention the increased speed). Win 7 is great, but those Win 7 users resistant to Win 8.1 really are missing out.

0 votes

venum

win8.1 has new cool features and functions in addition to win8 and its really worth upgrading. the upgrade is just an option to users. if you want to get along with the flow of our modern world switch to windows 8 and update it to 8.1 and you won’t be left behind.

0 votes

Andrea Borman

Windows 8.1 will be able to be installed on laptops that have no OS which is useful.Unlike Windows 8 which was only able to do upgrade installs. Other than that I don’t see the need to upgrade to windows 8.1 if you are already using Windows 8. I am quite happy to stay on Windows 8 and not upgrade. As some features have been dropped from Windows 8.1. If you haven’t got Windows 8 then upgrade. If not then stick with Windows 8.
Andrea Borman.

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

None of the features that were removed in 8.1 were actually useful. Since it’s a free upgrade, go for it. And besides, there’s an alternative for all the software they removed from 8.1.

0 votes

fil

I am using Windows 8 on acer iconia tablet, i have very limited hdd space, how much 8,1 update take in my drive? Since it wont be the full os, i hope its like 2gb

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

According to Microsoft, the minimum required availible disk space is 4gb, the reccommended is 8gb.

0 votes

simran singh

will i have to backup my compuetr if i am upgrading to win 8.1 from win 8?

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

No, everything will be kept.

0 votes

Mayank

If I am on windows 8 and I want to upgrade to 8.1 through the standalone ISO which will be available to download and not the Windows Store , will then I be able to upgrade without having to reinstall my desktop apps?

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

If you start the install from Windows, yes. If you boot from the disc, no.

0 votes

Ryan Elkochta

Lol, I’m on lubuntu. Won’t ever look back at Windows again. (Well, actually I use Windows 7 in a virtual machine, but just for compatibility.)

Windows 8 was a mess, and everyone knows that. With 8.1, the main thing they added was the Start Button. All this little Start Button does is take you back to the Metro screen. Yeah, you could install Start8 or Classic Shell, but all this really should be intergrated into the operating system.

I’m 11 years old writing (or, typing, that is) this. Lol.

0 votes

John S

I don’t find Windows 8.1 any better then 8.0. It adds a useless Start type button which won’t do much but switch between Classic and Modern Desktop? Could already do that easier through Windows button on keyboard? Can’t see anything Microsoft did to address Windows 7 or earlier users who wanted a Start button with menu’s or a reduction or elimination of the Modern Desktop. I don’t see the whole app UI being better. I usually embrace or at least try to embrace new features. But I just don’t with Windows 8. In my household nobody cares to use my Windows 8 PC. If I could take it back for a refund I would.

0 votes

Chris

Upgraded today from Windows 8.0 with Media Center. Upgrade went smoothly, no choice question asked about clean install or not, but when finished, after a couple of re-boots, I had NO INSTALLED PROGRAMS. They were all in Windows_Old, a newly created folder, but it was like a clean install. Microsoft Office and all other programs were gone!
Thank goodness for Acronis and the backup I did just before the upgrade.
I’m back to 8.0 now, and wonder how many others this has happened to.

0 votes

Renee

I upgrade from Windows 8.0 to Windows 8.1 my problem I have is when i start my computer
I have to restart it to work. Can someone tell me how to fix this? Once my computer is on it works fine. Help!!!!

0 votes

Lucinda Burbach

I said OK to go to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8 on my laptop. Couldn’t get free games without it. Solitaire and Majong. Then, after the download, I couldn’t get an internet connection which I had up to then. Struggled for two hours by myself and then Support.com which I pay for. Then he said he couldn’t help until I had a cord to plug into the modem which I didn’t have at that location. Finally, I did a system restore for several hours, and then I could get on line again. Now I am afraid to hit the 8.1 button on my Windows 8 desktop. I will be really pissed off if I have to reinstall all programs. Why can’t I just use Windows 8?

0 votes

AngeR

a while back I refreshed my computer and a long list of apps got deleted. if I upgrade to 8.1 from win8, will the apps be restored? …

These were the apps that were deleted

Apps removed while refreshing your PC
Adobe Reader X (10.1.6) MUI Adobe Systems Incorporated 10.1.6
Allshare Play Link Samsung 1.0.0
CyberLink Power2Go 8 CyberLink Corp. 8.0.0.1912
CyberLink PowerDVD 10 CyberLink Corp. 10.0.4421.02
Easy File Share Samsung Electronics CO.,LTD. 1.3.4
E-POP Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 1.0.1
ETDWare PS/2-X64 11.7.2.1_WHQL ELAN Microelectronic Corp. 11.7.2.1
Help Desk Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 1.0.4
iMesh iMesh Inc. 11.0.0.130401
Intel AppUp(SM) center Intel 3.6.1.33070.11
Intel(R) Manageability Engine Firmware Recovery Agent Intel Corporation 1.0.0.36702
Intel(R) Management Engine Components Intel Corporation 8.1.0.1252
Intel(R) Processor Graphics Intel Corporation 9.17.10.2828
Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology Intel Corporation 11.5.2.1001
Intel(R) SDK for OpenCL – CPU Only Runtime Package Intel Corporation 2.0.0.37149
Microsoft Office Microsoft Corporation 14.0.6120.5004
Microsoft Silverlight Microsoft Corporation 4.1.10329.0
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition [ENU] Microsoft Corporation 3.1.0000
Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Microsoft Corporation 8.0.61001
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x64 9.0.30729.4148 Microsoft Corporation 9.0.30729.4148
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x64 9.0.30729.6161 Microsoft Corporation 9.0.30729.6161
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x86 9.0.30729.17 Microsoft Corporation 9.0.30729
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x86 9.0.30729.4148 Microsoft Corporation 9.0.30729.4148
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x86 9.0.30729.6161 Microsoft Corporation 9.0.30729.6161
Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 x64 Redistributable – 10.0.40219 Microsoft Corporation 10.0.40219
Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 x86 Redistributable – 10.0.40219 Microsoft Corporation 10.0.40219
NVIDIA Graphics Driver 305.46 NVIDIA Corporation 305.46
NVIDIA PhysX System Software 9.12.0613 NVIDIA Corporation 9.12.0613
ooVoo ooVoo LLC. 3.5.3023
Realtek High Definition Audio Driver Realtek Semiconductor Corp. 6.0.1.6699
Recovery Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 6.0.6.1
Settings Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 2.0.0
Support Center Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 2.0.10
User Guide Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 1.1.00
Webroot SecureAnywhere Webroot 8.0.2.118
Windows Driver Package – Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (RadioHIDMini) HIDClass (07/27/2012 20.57.1.735) Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. 07/27/2012 20.57.1.735
Windows Live Microsoft Corporation 16.4.3503.0728
Xerox PhotoCafe Xerox 1.0.0.6162

Saturday, March 2, 2013 7:36 PM

0 votes

Gustav C.

Wait, so if I upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 I can keep my programs and files but if I upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 I can only keep my files and not programs?

This is interesting because I found a shop selling Windows 8 Pro (not Windows 8.1 Pro). The salesman claimed it was the upgrade option (not the clean install) and therefore it cost less: $178. So I thought, I am saving a lot of money (it’s the PRO edition!) and what’s more, I get to keep all my programs! But this sounds suspicious to me… He also said that getting Windows 8 Pro was the only way to upgrade… And that you couldn’t upgrade to Windows 8 Not Pro. What’s more, Windows 8.1 was unheard of. I’m starting to wonder if it was an N Edition of Windows 8. (The N Edition is something available in Europe and it means Not with Windows Media Player, apparently… But Media Player never was in Windows 8? Confusing.)