Microsoft goes public with Windows 8.1 upgrade policies

Microsoft goes public with Windows 8.1 upgrade policies

Summary: Microsoft is sharing more on how existing Windows 8 and Windows RT users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1 'Blue' preview and final.


With the public preview builds of Windows 8.1 due out later this month, a number of users are wondering how Microsoft plans to handle the upgrade.


At TechEd North America, officials shared some details on that topic in a session entitled "Windows RT in the Enterprise."

Microsoft officials have said previously that the company plans to deliver the public preview of Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," via the Windows Store on June 26.

Microsoft Senior Product Marketing Manager Michael Niehaus reiterated that message in the RT in the Enterprise session on June 4. When the 8.1 preview is available, Windows 8 and Windows RT users will receive a Windows Update notification. That update will trigger the new bits to show up in the Windows Store, where potential testers will be able to read the description and choose whether or not to install.

Once the final versions of Windows 8.1 are available, after their release to manufacturing, those who have downloaded the preview will get the same Windows Update plus Windows Store notification. While their data and accounts will be preserved if and when they choose to install the free, final 8.1 release, all their apps must be reinstalled, Niehaus said.

Even if testers opt instead to roll their devices back to Windows 8 after installing the preview bits, they still will have to reinstall their apps once they move to the RTM version of Windows 8.1.

Update: For those wondering exactly which apps will need to be reinstalled, it depends whether the tester is running Windows on ARM or x86. On Windows RT devices, it's the Windows Store/Metro-Style apps that will have to be reinstalled; for x86-based Windows 8 systems, testers will need to reinstall both their Windows Store/Metro-Style and Desktop apps, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Windows 8 users who do not install the preview build and opt instead to go straight from Windows 8/Windows RT to Windows 8.1 will not have to reinstall their apps. All settings, data and apps will carry over, a spokesperson said when I asked. Users will be able to decide when and if they want to move from Windows 8 and Windows RT to the 8.1 versions, officials stressed.

Niehaus characterized the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade as "a little better" than how Microsoft handled the Windows 8 test build to RTM upgrade. A Microsoft spokesperson said the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade would be "comparable" to the Windows 7 to Windows 8 upgrade, in terms of how the upgrade dealt with user settings, data and apps.

Niehaus also told session attendees that Microsoft expects to have a reduced footprint size for Windows 8.1 as compared to Windows 8. He said the team has been working on removing old components, temporary files and improving NTFS compression to free up more space on users' machines. He noted that 4 GB of free space will be needed to install the Windows 8.1 preview builds. And he said that installation of Windows 8.1 will not result in the replacement of the recovery partition in Windows 8.

"If you deleted it, [8.1] won't replace it," Niehaus said.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, ARM, PCs, Microsoft Surface


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft goes public with Windows 8.1 upgrade policies

    That is easy enough to upgrade to Microsoft Windows 8.1. Free upgrades, it pays to be an early adopter :)
    • no, it pays to wait and see how the guinea pigs like you fare before taking

      a course of action that may require re-installation of the apps. But you go ahead and adopt early, we'll see how you do and then decide. If it weren't for canaries like you, we might be walking into another MS cluster f'ck here, so thanks. Bing! Don't let those fries overcook.
      • toddbottom3

        needs directed to your commentary as well.
      • early adoption

        You're not going to lose critical data so what's the big deal? I'm very anxious to try the new bits. 8.1 preview will be better than 8.0
        • ...

          They didnt change much. thbey tweaked a few unimportant things and didnt fix any of the major issues.
          • Fletchguy

            Whether the changes are unimportant or not depends on the use environment. From other articles, they are intended primarily for enterprise use - like the difference between Windows 3.1 and 3.11.
      • Oh sheeple please! time, at band camp... back in like 2002, I ran Caldera linux, and it had this neato groovy ability to mostly emulate whatever GUI you liked (Mac, Windoze, and the common linux gui interfaces KDE, and i think gardenGnominator). Can not recall who actually built the capability. All the folks at M$ needed to do, was at a minimum, have an option to enable or disable the 'Start' button, so people could transition more easily. I dunno call it multimode gui emulation, and send me a darn check. Ahhh, the Start button; irony, tragedy, comedy... how i will miss you. ;P
        • God comment...

          however I can see about 1 or 2 people who might choose an 8 experience on their Linux, if they cared to mess it up for the pleasure of showing their die hard devotion to everything Microsoft pushes out to the public. LOL. I agree with you. Give the user an option.
          • GOOD Comment

            Darn spelling errors. Please provide an edit option!!!
          • Its okay, I used....

            my incredible wiz-bang signals intelligence skills to decrypt your initial response into something completely inaccurate, like, my Godliness. ;]
          • I can appreciate..

            a good laugh. Thanks !!
          • Try this

            Try typing your comments in something like Notepad. Then, after editing, copy them to the appropriate boxes.

            If you use a good word program, you can even get spell checking.
          • -- Or

            Do it the really old fashioned way and proofread. That's when, before hitting "post" or "send" or "submit" the user themselves re-reads over all that they typed to make sure everything looks right...

            "But I want computers to run my life and do it for me because I'm lazy!"

            ugh ;)
          • partman, you didn't go to Google's called denial.

            Millions downloading win8 emulation for their android devices.
            hmmm. For a UI everyone save 2 people in the entire world according to you (cough) it sure is popular among current android users. Looks to me like people want that UI but waiting for a few updates from MSFT before moving, as is typically the case with any OS.
      • Expecting to profit from Loverock's experience

        ...with any Microsoft product is silly.

        Even when it's wretched, he'll tell you how great it was.
      • Have to agree.... regular user, wait to install this

        Seriously, I've ALREADY had to troubleshoot installation of apps in Windows Metro, only to find that the solution was to create a GODDAMNED FOLDER IN THE WINDOWS DIRECTORY that somehow got deleted.

        Seriously, Microsoft should focus on fixing that annoying as hell bug. I've specifically wrote down the instructions to fix app installation problems because they get borked so often, especially after I am forced to power-down during on of those "Don't power-down the computer now!" messages because Windows 8 appears to freeze.
  • marco, 2 majorities. That is fuzzy math brother.

  • Millions HATE Android interfacea and downloading Win8 Emulators....

    Go to Google Play and tell me you don't see where millions of Android users are downloading cheap or free win8 emulators so their Android looks and behaves like Win8.
    That is happening on a massive scale. I think win8 will be their next phone.
    I guess this is at odds with your premise that people hate win8.
    They love the idea, now they just want the UI stability and they will get it.
    Win8 phones are going to explode in sales later this year and next year.
    • "Millions HATE Android interfacea and downloading Win8 Emulators...."


      Stop lying, troll
    • yes its perfect for phones and tab too

      i would love to use my xbox kinect to interface but surely you will have to spend about $200.00 for a modified kinect for win8.