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Install Windows 8.1: step by step

Posted on 17 Oct 2013 at 15:28

We walk you through the process of upgrading to the latest edition of Windows

The Windows 8.1 update is here, bringing improvements to the Windows 8 interface and new under-the-bonnet features.

All Windows 8 users can upgrade - even if you're running RT, or the 8.1 preview that was released in June - and it only takes a few clicks to install. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, the upgrade will probably take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete. Here's how to install it.

Windows 8.1

1. Open the Windows Store. You should see a rather conspicuous button, as above. If you're not seeing this button, make sure you've installed all available updates. Note that if you're using the 8.1 Preview, you may need to reinstall your applications after installing the final code via the Windows Store. If you want to avoid this, check out this unofficial way to perform an in-place upgrade.

Windows 8.1

2. Once you've clicked on the huge Store icon, you'll be taken to a download page. Among other things, this tells you the size of the update for your PC: if you're running a 64-bit desktop edition of Windows, this will probably be upwards of 3.5GB. Updates for Windows RT come in at a little over 2GB. Hit the Download button to kick things off.

Windows 8.1

3. You can switch away from the Windows Store and carry on using your PC while the update is downloaded and prepared for installation. If you switch back to the Store from time to time you'll see it trundling through various stages of the process.

Windows 8.1

4. Some time later, Windows will report that it needs to restart to continue the installation. A 15-minute countdown will pop up, giving you a chance to save your work and close down your applications cleanly. When you're ready, restart your PC - or wait for it to restart on its own.

Windows 8.1

5. Windows will now trundle through several stages of the upgrade process, including setting up device drivers, "getting ready", "applying PC settings" and then, rather airily, "setting up a few more things". On one of our test systems, this last part took a good 15 minutes: we'd guess this might be to do with the large number of applications installed. You might have a quicker experience with a less heavily laden PC.

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User comments

I believe you can avoid the MS account prompt by disconnecting from the internet.

By tech3475 on 17 Oct 2013

2 factor

the 2 factor authentication is pretty standard when you first log in on a new device.

As this is a new version of Windows, the key that it had is probably invalid, which is why it is requesting to verify your identity.

Generally a good thing, I would have thought.

By big_D on 17 Oct 2013

Nope

Not if, like me, your laptop has a small HD and so you used an external HD to take the Win 8 image. Only now do you discover that you have been running Windows 8 To Go, and are lockewd out of the Windows Store. If I install XP again and upgrade I may not be able to use my key, so it will cost. And Tech support just kill the chat when I ask, rather than even saying 'goodbye', let alone answering the question. I am sooo glad we put a tax on tea.

By ntuson6 on 17 Oct 2013

How about user profiles?

If the Windows 8 machine belongs to a Active Directory Domain, do the user profiles get migrated as part of the 8.1 upgrade or does the machine have to rejoin the domain?

By Neilski on 18 Oct 2013

Gotcha!

The two factor authentication is weird. I elected to have my confirmations sent by email. Later it demanded I entered the confirmation number emailed to me - before login! Since I could not see my emails at this stage I had to hit the "I can't do this at this time" link. This logged me in right away without the number. I then checked my email and sure enough there is the number, but no indication of what to do with it. So it's now stuck on a postit on my monitor in case it demands it again!

After the upgrade my heart sank as MediaPortal refused even to load - fortunately a quick web search revealed they'd already updated - the benefit of open source I guess!

Next I found my Behringer USB sound card had been kicked out of Device Manager. Several attempts at automatic fixes failed, but eventually I got it back by downloading an (aged, certainly not 8.1 aware) driver from the Behringer site.

By JohnAHind on 18 Oct 2013

W8.1 messed up trackpad & Power Shell

After upgrading, the trackpad on my Dell XPS13 (a new driver came with W8.1) had only basic functions (no right-click, no two-finger scroll) and I had to download the original driver from the Dell website. The Windows Power Shell (which provides a proper "Start" button and menu needed re-installing, too.
I have not yet figured out how to reclaim Libraries and original Sky Drive functionality.
I still hate Windows 8, W8.1 is no better and wish that I had got W7 on the laptop. Why has Microsoft foisted this useless "Metro" interface on users? The W7 interface is far superior and much easier to use on anything bigger than a postage-stamp sized display.!

By dwrobinson on 18 Oct 2013

W8.1 messed up trackpad & Power Shell

After upgrading, the trackpad on my Dell XPS13 (a new driver came with W8.1) had only basic functions (no right-click, no two-finger scroll) and I had to download the original driver from the Dell website. The Windows Power Shell (which provides a proper "Start" button and menu needed re-installing, too.
I have not yet figured out how to reclaim Libraries and original Sky Drive functionality.
I still hate Windows 8, W8.1 is no better and wish that I had got W7 on the laptop. Why has Microsoft foisted this useless "Metro" interface on users? The W7 interface is far superior and much easier to use on anything bigger than a postage-stamp sized display.!

By dwrobinson on 18 Oct 2013

W8.1 messed up trackpad & Power Shell

After upgrading, the trackpad on my Dell XPS13 (a new driver came with W8.1) had only basic functions (no right-click, no two-finger scroll) and I had to download the original driver from the Dell website. The Windows Power Shell (which provides a proper "Start" button and menu needed re-installing, too.
I have not yet figured out how to reclaim Libraries and original Sky Drive functionality.
I still hate Windows 8, W8.1 is no better and wish that I had got W7 on the laptop. Why has Microsoft foisted this useless "Metro" interface on users? The W7 interface is far superior and much easier to use on anything bigger than a postage-stamp sized display.!

By dwrobinson on 18 Oct 2013

update fails

I tried several times yesterday,including disabling all non-MS services and everything else (via msconfig) that starts up. It fails before the license agreement and restores back to Win8. Hugely disappointing

By raybarclay on 18 Oct 2013

Trails of 8.1

It took about 12 hours to download and install. Several problems followed.I now need to use a password to log 0n. I would like to avoid that but the help file dose not help

By Neil_S on 19 Oct 2013

update fails- Updated

Got there in the end by also disabling anything not absolutely necessary in Device manager and in the BIOS. Once working, re-enabling in large chunks gave Blue Screen start ups so I'm slowly working back to a fully functioning system.

By raybarclay on 19 Oct 2013

Bumpy upgrade

My Yoga 13 got stuck at 79% at the final setup. Still at 79% 7h later so had to power off. Windows then started to roll back but after re-booting got stuck in a loop! Used the recovery options to repair. Cleaned up old install and removed Avast a few other things I thought may have caused issues and tried again. This time it worked but lots of problems such as no touchpad and missing drivers. After many hours I now have the Yoga back to normal with Windows 8.1 installed and only have one remaining issue, the touchpad two finger tap for a right click will not work. I have even tried the Yoga 2 Pro 8.1 Synaptics driver with no joy. Maybe Microsoft is giving the two fingers to Synaptics!

By bernardm3 on 19 Oct 2013

watch out if you have amd graphics card!

So, well done to microsoft for wasting 3 hours of my day. Looks like if you have an amd graphics card the installation can leave you with a black screen because of an incompatibility with the win8 amd driver and win8.1. If you have this issue, follow the directions given by 'Adel' in the comments section of the link below. Good luck.
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Windows-8-1-Install
ation-Fails-with-Blank-Black-Screen-392346.shtml

By spideryman on 19 Oct 2013

Start Screen Nuisance

Downloaded in 1 - 1.5 hours (using a wired connection to my router) and installed OK after another 1 hour. I had to do another restart to get my PC to communicate with my printer.

The small start screen tiles are great; I can fit all of my tiles in one screen, without scrolling, but only if I have fewer groups as it seems you have to have 4 columns in each group.

Also annoying that the IE icon appeared back on the task bar. Don't MS realise that if it wasn't there I don't want it.

By Bushy2006 on 20 Oct 2013

Upgrades

Over 12 hours to download the upgrade and a further hour to install (on a standard PC - C2D E6600). The PC will now no longer download Office 2013 updates or any other for that matter.
Upgraded a Surface RT without issue, other than the time it took - similar to the PC.
Tried to upgrade a Surface Pro, it just failed and rolled itself back (about halfway through the install process), similar time issues.
All 3 devices upgraded individually, not at the same time.
Most likely our BT Internet speed here in the centre of Norwich! Glad we are not based in the middle of nowhere!
Just beginning to think that Win 8 has some merits, but am not ready to change my main PC yet - still on 7. Certainly not happy the minor upgrade done on the START button, bring it back completely please. The Metro interface is not used at all (except on the RT box)!

By skeetboy on 21 Oct 2013

Not impressed

I've got W8 on a VM on my laptop at home. The upgrade to 8.1 was straightforward enough (couldn't work out any way to avoid having to give Microsoft account details though - not sure how this would work on a computer at work).

It's an improvement on W8, certainly, but I still prefer W7.

By valeofyork on 21 Oct 2013

Cannot rollback to Win 8.0

8.1 has 4 error on start-up and machine running like a dog. I tried to repair but cannot as I do not have the original media DVD and cannot find a location for window to look at. Windows refresh tells me there are missing files but not how to find them. But most importantly I cannot roll-back to Win 8.0. I could try reinstalling Win 8.0 from DVD but really do not want to risk it.

By malmoy on 21 Oct 2013

Windows 8.1 should have called it Beta...

Upgrade seems to have gone fine. Then the problems started. Zone Alarm Firer Wall does not work. VPN Juniper Networks Connect 7 dont work on Windows 8.1 so can't work from home :-(. Tried all the fixes for 8.1 Preview for the VPN without any luck. The Pc feels sluggish even on an Intel i7 with 8GB memory.

By Meltdown on 22 Oct 2013

Windows 8.1 should have called it Beta...

Upgrade seems to have gone fine. Then the problems started. Zone Alarm Firer Wall does not work. VPN Juniper Networks Connect 7 dont work on Windows 8.1 so can't work from home :-(. Tried all the fixes for 8.1 Preview for the VPN without any luck. The Pc feels sluggish even on an Intel i7 with 8GB memory.

By Meltdown on 22 Oct 2013

download windows 8.1 for free without opening store

download windows 8.1 ISO without even opening store!! go here http://goo.gl/hMXSuA

By newandroidfan on 30 Oct 2013

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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