Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

Ads by Google

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 usb

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

Ads by Google

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

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

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)

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Best Android Phones
Best Android Phones
4 Members
Best Android Games
Best Android Games
15 Members
Best Android Apps
Best Android Apps
20 Members
Android Rooting and ROMs
Android Rooting and ROMs
25 Members
Android OS Tips
Android OS Tips
19 Members
Android Rumors and News
Android Rumors and News
7 Members
Best Android Tablets
Best Android Tablets
3 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (39)
  • Angel Zulueta

    Hi! Can someone help me? I was using windows 8. And i didn’t want to update to 8.1 because I am already satisfied and got used to windows 8. So when I restarted my laptop it was still fine and when it got to the home screen, it was starting to configure the settings. It was still normal. After the configuration, my windows 8 updated to windows 8.1 and I dont know why because I didn’t the update button. After the update, my desktop files, programs on the desktop, everything is gone. But when I use the search button i can see them. But not the same setup. I am having a hard time on this because the setup i made from windows 8 was already perfect for me. So now i cant see any programs I installed. My question is, how can i restore my old setup and see the my old programs again?

  • 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.)

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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!!!!

Load 10 more
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.
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.