Upgrading Your PC for Windows 8.1? Prep It First!

Chris Hoffman 23-09-2013

Windows 8.1 How To Upgrade To Windows 8.1 Preview & What To Expect 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... Read More 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 The Windows 8 Guide This Windows 8 guide outlines everything new about Windows 8, from the tablet-like start screen to the new "app" concept to the familiar desktop mode. Read More ? 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 7 Windows 8 Niggles Resolved Windows 8 has a number of features that can be annoying to experienced users of the traditional Windows desktop. From adding a Start menu to disabling the bulky ribbon, noisy live tiles, and unnecessary lock... Read More .

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 Upgrading to Windows 8? Get Settled In Faster with these Tips If it's about time you purchase a new computer, that computer is probably going to come with Windows 8. Microsoft hasn't included a tutorial with Windows 8 -- aside from the cryptic "move your mouse... Read More 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

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 What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? Read More — 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 How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 What's up with user accounts in Windows 8? It's not complicated - Microsoft wants everyone to use an online account to sign into their desktop operating system. Sure, they offer an offline equivalent, but they... Read More , 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.



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 How To Upgrade To Windows 8.1 Preview & What To Expect 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... Read More 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 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 , 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 How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive Unlike most Windows applications, Steam can be easily moved between hard drives without redownloading or reinstalling anything. If you want to put Steam on a new hard drive – say, if you’ve bought a new... Read More without having to re-download all your games.



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 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 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)


Related topics: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Upgrade.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Angel Zulueta
    April 25, 2015 at 2:57 am

    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?

  2. Gustav C.
    January 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    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.)

  3. AngeR
    December 4, 2013 at 7:31 am

    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.
    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 ELAN Microelectronic Corp.
    Help Desk Samsung Electronics CO., LTD. 1.0.4
    iMesh iMesh Inc.
    Intel AppUp(SM) center Intel
    Intel(R) Manageability Engine Firmware Recovery Agent Intel Corporation
    Intel(R) Management Engine Components Intel Corporation
    Intel(R) Processor Graphics Intel Corporation
    Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology Intel Corporation
    Intel(R) SDK for OpenCL - CPU Only Runtime Package Intel Corporation
    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.
    Recovery Samsung Electronics CO., LTD.
    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
    Windows Driver Package - Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (RadioHIDMini) HIDClass (07/27/2012 Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. 07/27/2012
    Windows Live Microsoft Corporation 16.4.3503.0728
    Xerox PhotoCafe Xerox

    Saturday, March 2, 2013 7:36 PM

  4. Lucinda Burbach
    December 2, 2013 at 2:00 am

    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 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?

  5. Renee
    November 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    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!!!!

  6. Chris
    October 20, 2013 at 3:14 am

    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.

  7. John S
    October 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    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.

  8. Mayank
    October 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

    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?

  9. simran singh
    October 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm

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

  10. fil
    October 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    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

  11. Andrea Borman
    October 1, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    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.

  12. venum
    September 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    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.

  13. tom
    September 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    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.

  14. shaun
    September 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

    very interesting,nice to know little things.

  15. Ahmed
    September 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

    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.

  16. James
    September 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

    directx 11.2

  17. Mike
    September 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    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?

  18. Flemming Hansen
    September 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm

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

    The list goes on. Read other reviews.

  19. shaibal sinha
    September 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

    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.....

    • A.K.Nandan
      October 23, 2013 at 3:02 am

      ya there is another option to avoid again and again installation

      1st u go [Broken URL Removed]

      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

    • A.K.Nandan
      October 23, 2013 at 3:04 am
  20. Richard Lewis
    September 24, 2013 at 11:04 am

    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.

  21. Keith Brooks
    September 24, 2013 at 5:20 am

    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.

  22. Eric B
    September 24, 2013 at 2:21 am

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

  23. Victor O
    September 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    There is a way to upgrade:

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

  24. Keith Brooks
    September 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    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.

    • Chuck Houser
      September 24, 2013 at 1:26 am

      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.

  25. Phil
    September 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    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?

    • Vinit
      December 12, 2014 at 6:36 am

      is your pc formatted when you install win 8.1 or which files are deleted when you update.

  26. Brian H
    September 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    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..

    • WorknMan
      September 24, 2013 at 12:43 am

      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 :)

  27. Aðalbjörn Tryggvason
    September 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Upgraded all my home computers. Best is clean install.