The Windows 8.1 preview is here, and Windows 8 users can choose to upgrade, install it on a virtual drive/partition or wait for the official release to come out. At the time of the official release, Microsoft has only introduced the upgrade to users with the ISO image of 8.1 to come later.
We’ll show you how to upgrade to the Windows 8.1 preview. Keep an eye out of for our guides to installing it via partition and virtual drive once the ISO image is released by Microsoft.
Before Upgrading To Windows 8.1 Preview
Before you choose to upgrade to the Windows 8.1 preview, you must be warned: You are beta testing the first Service Pack for Windows 8. This means that it comes with bugs, issues and other nuances that may degrade your overall Windows using experience. If you can’t handle that, don’t upgrade to the Windows 8.1 Pro preview.
If you decide to upgrade to the preview, ensure you’ve created a recovery disk, recovery USB drive or other recovery media. It’s very well possible you may need to recover or restore Windows 8 at some point before Windows 8.1 is officially released.
Also, keep in mind that if you choose to upgrade, you will have to reinstall all your Metro apps and desktop apps when the official Windows 8.1 upgrade rolls out from Microsoft.
It is not really recommended to upgrade the OS on production systems, considering that you will lose access to all installed programs and apps once you make the upgrade to the final version of Windows 8.1
You’ve been warned! Proceed at your own risk.
Get Started With the Upgrade To Windows 8.1
If you’re ready to take that leap of faith in Microsoft Windows 8.1, head to the preview’s download page.
Make sure you’re logged into your Windows 8 Administrator account before continuing.
At the moment, only the update from 8 to 8.1 is available. The ISO will come later. Click “Get the update” to start downloading the upgrade installer.
It should only take a few seconds for the update to download. Once downloaded, double-click the installer to start the upgrade process.
Windows may prompt you to confirm running the update, click “Open” to do so.
The Windows Update Standalone Installer will begin.
It will search to see if your PC is ready to upgrade to the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview.
If successful, you’ll be prompted to install the update. Click “Yes” to do so.
It’ll take a few moments to initialize and install the update.
When finished, you’ll need to restart your PC by clicking “Restart Now.”
Installing Windows 8.1 Upgrade From the Windows Store
After the restart, you’ll be prompted by Windows 8 to head to the Windows Store and download the update.
Open the “Windows Store.”
You’ll see a big update for Windows you can’t miss. Click on it.
When ready, click “Download.”
Windows claims you can work in the background while the download updates, but I found that every time I went back to the desktop, the download restarted itself.
I decided to step away from my PC, leaving the Windows Store Install window open while it downloaded.
Once the download finished, it began to install it and finally hit the point it needed to restart again.
Windows 8 will prompt you to either manually restart or that it’ll restart automatically in 15 minutes time.
After the Windows Store Install
After the restart, it’ll take some time for your computer to install, set up and initialize the upgrade to Windows 8.1 This process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes. It took my PC about 80 minutes to finish the process from start to finish.
Once your PC is ready to get you into Windows 8.1, you’ll need to accept the License Agreement for the evaluation copy. Your Windows 8 license is still valid, but since you’re essentially beta testing 8.1, you do have to agree to it before you continue.
You’ll be asked to login to your Microsoft Account if detected, too.
You’ll then be walked through the same steps you took when you first installed or upgrade to Windows 8. These are simple things like name your PC, Windows Update settings, color schemes, networking options and more. Once you make your way through the setup, it’ll take Windows a few moments to reinstall your apps.
This is where having a Microsoft Account comes in handy. Your apps, and settings will reload into Windows 8.1 the way you like them.
What’s New in Windows 8.1?
We’ll be covering these features in more details down the line, but here’s what you can expect in Windows 8.1 from the start:
You’ll notice a variety of color changes to the tiles and live tiles on the desktop.
The drop down arrow at the bottom lets you access all apps installed in Windows 8.1.
If you right-click on any app, you’ll be able to resize it as you see fit with the new sizing options available in the upgrade.
If you head to the desktop, you’ll see IE 11, File Explorer and the new Start Button in your taskbar.
You’ll also see that you’re using the Pro Preview.
You can right-click the Start Button from the desktop to open the Win + X Menu.
Many new options have been added to the Win + X Menu, such as access to Windows PowerShell as well as Shutdown options.
Those are the big visual changes you’ll see in the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview. We’ll be covering the new features in detail in coming days.
Troubleshooting Issues Upgrading
Windows Store Update Not Downloading
We addressed one of the issues above when downloading the update from the Windows Store. If the update hangs or restarts after you start doing something else, just keep the Windows Store open and walk away until it’s finished downloading and the installation process starts.
Error: “The Update Is Not Applicable To Your Computer”
Another common issue outside the US since the preview arrived is this above error. This has been addressed by Microsoft as being affected by one of two things: You’re utilizing Windows 8 Enterprise or you’ve changed the base language of Windows 8 in the past. Microsoft strongly urges users not to change the base language to upgrade to Windows 8.1. You can read more about it here.
If you’re using Windows 8 Enterprise, you’ll need to use the ISO release to upgrade or install Windows 8.1.
However, there’s another fix to this if neither of the above applies.
Head to this website and download the MSU for the upgrade and save it to your “C:\temp folder.”
Open the Windows Command prompt as an Administrator and enter the following:
Expand –F:* Windows8-RT-KB2849636-x86.msu .
Once more, type:
DISM.exe /Online /Add-Package /PackagePath:Windows8-RT-KB2849636-x64.cab
The Command Prompt will go through the update and then prompt you to restart your PC, type:
Now, your PC will restart and hopefully begin installing Windows 8.1.
Receiving Error Code 0x8020002e During Windows Store Download
Many downloaders complained of receiving this issue from the Windows Store just over halfway through downloading the actual upgrade. Microsoft claims it’s resolved but many users noted it might have been related to issues with the base language.
Error: “Windows 8.1 Preview Is Not Yet Supported On This PC”
Believe it or not, there are some PCs out there that can’t handle the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview in its current form.
The following list of PCs and tablets won’t work at the moment:
- Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
- Asus VivoTab TF810C
- HP ENVY x2
- HP ElitePad 900
- Samsung ATIV Smart PC
- Fujitsu ARROWS Tab tablets
Microsoft says they’re working with these developers to correct the issues.
Error: “You Need To Install One Or More Updates To Your Firmware Or Device Drivers”
This is also related to hardware that can’t run the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview, like the above list of PCs and tablets. If you see this message, exit the upgrade and run Windows Update. If you have drivers or firmware updates, install them, restart your PC and start the process of upgrading to Windows 8.1 again. Depending on your PC or tablet, it may not be capable of running the preview without updated firmware or drivers which may or may not be available just yet. Microsoft is again working with developers to correct the issue as quickly as possible.
Windows 8.1 Pro Preview Doesn’t Appear In Windows Store After Patch
If you don’t find the Windows 8.1 upgrade available in the Windows Store after downloading and installing the upgrade patch to activate it, it’s possible your PC may not be eligible for the upgrade.
According to Microsoft, the following could be reasons why the upgrade doesn’t show up:
- You’re using Windows 8 Enterprise edition
- You’re using Windows 8 with a volume license
- Your base language is not supported
Other than the base language issue which we’ve addressed in above solutions, if you’re using Enterprise or a volume license, you can’t install the upgrade at this time.
Keep an eye on this post as we update to address issues users face as they upgrade to Windows 8.1!
Should You Wait To Upgrade To Windows 8.1?
It really depends on the type of computer user you are. Windows’ method to test out the kinks in Windows 8.1 by letting consumers preview it before it goes live could go really well or horribly wrong. Only time will tell.
If you’re looking forward to taking advantage of some of the major changes – like the Start Button – the Windows 8.1 preview might be the upgrade for you. If you can wait for a stable release though, you may be waiting awhile.
Please Note: Windows 8.1 is still in preview mode, this means you may encounter issues that we aren’t encountering and vice versa. Let us know if any issues you have with Windows 8.1 so we can help get the answers for you!