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How to upgrade Windows 8 to Windows 8.1


October 20, 2013

Here's how to update Windows 8 to the new Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store

Here's how to update Windows 8 to the new Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store

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Windows 8 wasn't the greatest success for Microsoft, but the much anticipated update, Windows 8.1, is now available either electronically or through traditional physical discs in retail outlets. Here's a look at how to get your Windows 8 system ready and the process of upgrading to Windows 8.1 through the electronic update now available in the Windows Store.

Prepare your Windows 8 system

Before jumping in to the upgrade there's a few things you'll need to do before installing. First, make sure you have all of the latest updates for your system via Windows Update. Even if you have your system set up to receive automatic updates, it's best to run it manually to ensure you have all of the latest ones.

The second thing I strongly recommend is to create a back up of all important documents, pictures, videos, etc. You don't necessarily need to create a system image, though it wouldn't hurt, but make sure everything important is backed up on an external drive, network location, or DVDs. If you have File History set up, just run it before proceeding with the update. If you have a service like CrashPlan that's constantly running in the background, you should be good to go.

Download and Install Windows 8.1

Now it's time to update and get your new version of Windows. Hit the Windows Key to get to the Start screen and select the Store tile.

Next click on the Update to Windows 8.1 for free (you can't miss it, it's the first thing you'll see in the store). The next screen will give you a brief preview of what new features Windows 8.1 provides. Click Install.

Now just wait while the update is downloaded and installed. This is a major update at around 3.5 GB for the 8.1 Pro edition, so the amount of time it takes to download will vary depending on your connection speed and how busy Microsoft servers are. However, you can continue to use your system while this download it taking place.

If you have the option of a wired Ethernet connection rather than Wi-Fi, I'd recommend using it to provide a much more reliable connection for faster download speeds and to reduce the risk of getting disconnected during the install. Also ensure you're connected to mains power to avoid potential power problems.

When it's done, you'll receive a message that your computer needs to be restarted. Finish up any work you're doing and save it because from this point until it's done, you can't user you computer. It will restart several times while the 8.1 update is being installed.

You'll see a series of different screens showing you what is going on during the installation.

You're almost finished. Agree to the software terms of service.

There will be a few more screens displayed letting you know what Windows is doing, like the one below, which is getting modern apps ready that were already installed.

Success! You're all done. You have the latest version of Windows on your system and you start digging into the cool new features it has to offer.

Wrapping Up

After installing the 8.1 update, I recommend running Windows Update right away. There's already updates for the final version, one of which is the General Availability Rollup.

If you are running the 8.1 Preview version, when you update, you'll need to reinstall all of your modern apps and desktop programs. One nicety of the upgrade is your modern app tiles will display on the Start screen. Then all you need to do is click the tile to download them.

Finally, after you have Windows 8.1 set up and ready to use, check out our article: Coming to grips with Windows 8.1: Tips and Tricks which will help introduce some of the new features of the OS.

About the Author
Brian Burgess Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Gizmag, he’s the Editor in Chief at and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him listening to heavy metal, playing guitar, or watching Star Trek. All articles by Brian Burgess

what a huge disappointment. I stopped the video when he first says something about just 'swiping upwards'. I thought the whole Windows 8.1 upgrade was to get RID of the stupid requirement to wipe something across your display. I just spent $2500 on two new Lenovo laptops, and guess what, they are laptops. Not some teenagers telephone.

Apparently, Microsoft has abandoned those who would create contend, in favor of squeezing a few bucks out of those who only consume it.

This is worthless to me. Sorry I waited all these months for it. Hello Apple. Meet your newest convert.


I really wish I could downgrade on my laptop from Windows 8 to XP. I agree with Gringo...I will probably go with Apple next time I need a new laptop.

Sheena Hocking

Since you CAN get rid of the swipe, where is the complaint?? You do have to change the setting yourself, there are many articles out there that tell you how. If the upward swipe upsets you that much, then going to Apple would not fix things for you. For that matter, if the upward swipe is your biggest complaint, then you have no problems as it has to be the most trivial issue of Win8.

John Waller

You obviously have not seen the classic start button download you can get from which will make your desktop just like windows 7. It is great for all the people too lady to learn a new OS and just give up. Either way, there is far more security in Windows 8.1 then other versions, so feel free to talk bad about something you aren't even trying to learn.

Zack Conway

Excellent another great update to improve what is fast becoming my favourite OS. My iPad sits in the corner unloved. For all those who are too lazy to learn how to use Win 8, please go to Apple and stop whingeing, you will find everything there that you need, but nothing that you want.

For the turkey who complained about having to swipe....why don't you learn to use the right mouse key FFS!! Makes me think you are nothing but paid Apple employees trying to drum up some business.

The fact that this OS provides the best of both worlds for consumers and creators shows that they are actually ahead of the curve. The Surface Pro is a beast and kicks some serious A$$.

Paul Hobbs

If you have a touch screen, Win 8.1 makes sense, but i still don't get the 2 environmnet concept???? why not have one environment with touch friendly icons? It has to be the most bizzare release of an OS ever. Stability wise though, it's rock solid and it boots so fast.

Simon Sammut

This is a funny article. It explains how to upgrade to Windows 8.1....but anybody who's read anything online this week knows that if you upgrade to 8.1, you stand a chance to brick your precious Windows tablet! Thanks, but no thanks....


Having teethed on an IBM 604, with punch cards and a hand wired board , back in 1956. Then IBM compatible desktops running Win 3.1, working my way up thru Win 95, Win 98, to Win XP-Pro, and now Win 7, I can't see what all the fuss is about. All of these opsys had their problems, every body complained when they had to upgrade. they all argued Windows versu Apple, and so on. I found Windows 7 really nice, and would love to see Windows 8. What is so damn hard about upgrading from one version to another. Try seting up a complete system in a hospital. Installing all the cable for the entire building, setting up each terminal, installing the software and then having to maintain the system. I did this mostly by myself, but learned a lot. I still use Win XP-Pro on my 3 main workstations (SOHO), plus one running Ubuntu for some work. Come on you people, if it's too hard for you, you need to have a 10 year old show you how. My grandson, learned to use both Mac and Windows by the age of 10. I'm looking forward to Windows 9.


@Gringo - So you are going to spend 4 times the amount of money on Macbook's that you spent on your lenovo's because there are swipe options?

You can enable the feature to boot directly to the Desktop and you don't need to swipe anything. Windows on the desktop still have the Red X, and you never need to go into the Metro Interface.

Being a hardcore Desktop Windows user for so many years I agree about some of the features but 8.1 allows for us to get our desktop back and never really need to interact with the teenager phone screen UI.. I am looking forward to installing the 8.1 Update.

Raymond Duron

Just do what i did . Install start 8 from stardock and 8gadget pack to install your gadgets . i set up my windows 8 to be like windows 7 . I know microsoft sucks alot at the moment for not listening to there consumers but you can have the best of both worlds with windows 8 . You just need to do some research on how to make it like windows 7 . I hate windows 8 as it is but modified to windows 7 i love it .

Egg Gallardo

Many people are talking against windows 8. But I really love it. It has fast become my favorite OS. You have to learn just a few things about it and you can get acclimatized to the most stable windows to date.

Munawar Shahzad

I wonder how many folks updated to Windows 8, under the program MS was doing when they were in transition from 7 to 8? If you did, you get this message from MS: Some editions of Windows 8 don’t support the free update to Windows 8.1. These include:

Windows 8 Enterprise

Editions of Windows 8 Pro that are installed by enterprises using KMS activation

Editions of Windows 8 that are installed using an MSDN ISO, and activated using multiple activation keys

If you’re running one of these editions, you can't install the free update to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 from the Store.

This is a COMPLETE pain in the *ass if you are one who bought a computer with Windows 7, during the MS update to Win8 program!


Get real, if Windows goes the "traditional" way they get criticized for being old and not "cool" yet if they do something like windows 8.1 that is an attempt to compete with the market suddenly there is a new outlet to criticize them now? Apple for years has been a figure for teenagers (iPhone) for if you haven't noticed and their practices are exactly the same, they come out with some crappy iOS that is simply a reorganization of iOS and not a redesign and they get the ultimate praise for making it colorful meanwhile Microsoft is here struggling trying to make windows 8 to the "perfect" image for people like you but all you do is criticize, your comment about moving to apple is a cheap shot, apple does way worse so have fun paying 1,200 $ for a mac book or 600 for an iPhone that will be replaced in the next 6 months.


Do you really need to download and apply all the updates before an upgrade? From my understanding it is a complete inplace reinstall of the O/S so the updates won't apply to this new O/S anyway.

Artur Rzasa

@Artur Rzasa no, you just need to update the "KB12871389" update, and Windows 8.1 will be available at the Windows Store after a reboot :)


Hal Rafael

It's simple: the reason I use a cell phone is it's convenience. I use a computer to do business. This is why computers exist today. In order to do business I need fast access to applications and folders containing programs to conduct my business. I couldn't care less about this froufrou interface. And obviously the majority of all Americans feel the same way which is why no one is buying this sham for an operating system.

I don't work for apple, I hate apple, and the last thing in the world I want is another operating system just like that which is what you have with this plastic piece of ... What is the point of these live tiles? I have yet to understand what this is and how it is possibly useful.. Could someone out there that is so in love with this garbage please tell me what the advantages are for a computer user.



i asked me for a product key when windows 8.1 pro is installing. and my previous conputer is running windows 8.1 pro preview. i thaught it is free!

Evan Wang

I tried upgrading via App Store yesterday and it failed. Twice.

I'll try again today, but I will be contacting Microsoft regarding this. It's ridiculous.

May Day

it won't download it says i need to use an account with administrator privileges to install it.I don't get this please help

Stefannie Rose

Please help! I upgraded to 8.1 today and did not realize I must back-up my data beforehand. I am now without my photos (4 months worth) although every document is still in place. Am I totally out of luck??

Amy Lindley

ok i downloaded it and restared my computer but when it finished getting all my files and programs sorted to windows 8.1 it says theres an error. Whats goin on??????

Phillip Wu

I really wish I could downgrade on my laptop from Windows 8 to XP, Microsoft more development , more stupidity, please return XP, it was the only good product from Microsoft, otherwise we have to convert to Apple and solve these problems

Hera SkyGod

Husband installed this update , left me to finish. Didn't come up with restart but log in as administrator which I don't know his password. Clicked on not administrator and went to home screen. Logged in on my and daughters profiles ok and used computer. Come to turn computer on thus morning and won't load up !!!!!


Kate Smith

Thanks for your advise, but currently I am running windows 7, I have to upgrade to windows 8 first and buy a windows 8 upgrade key, and then follow your instruction, and finally I get to windows 8.1 now, it takes a whole day , but everything works fine


sir i am running window 8 pro.......i m not able to see the updates still on my store...............

Muhammad Sulehri

Kate smith i am in the same boat as you, it just keep restarting. Need help asap!!!

Josie Thomas

"Next click on the Update to Windows 8.1 for free (you can't miss it, it's the first thing you'll see in the store)"

I don't see it anywhere in my Windows Store???

Caroline Nguyen

I used to have Windows 8 and I was told to upgrade to 8.1 cuz' of the browsers was messed up and it was fine for a year. Then the Windows 8.1 got messed up and I refreshed my pc. and now I'm back to Windows 8 again. What is the point to upgrade Windows 8.1 anyway!?!? Thanks.

Sandra Mapson
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