Microsoft takes a step to get Windows 8 users current with new automatic update

Microsoft takes a step to get Windows 8 users current with new automatic update

Summary: Microsoft quietly released an update for its Windows RT operating system that allows users to automatically update from Windows RT to Windows RT 8.1. The goal: Get users current.


On July 1, Microsoft released an update to Windows RT that will allow users to automatically update from Windows RT to Windows RT 8.1.


This is more interesting than it might seem because of Microsoft's operating system group's focus on getting as many of its Windows users as possible to run the latest versions of its Windows releases.

Today's Windows RT update  -- available via Windows Update -- may be a precursor to the release of a similar automatic update for Intel-based machines to enable users to move more easily from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. (I've asked Microsoft officials if this is the case. No word back so far.)

Update: It looks like this is exactly what's happening. Here's what the Microsoft spokesperson said, via a statement:

"This (Windows RT) pilot program is an example of ways we’re experimenting to help ensure more of our customers benefit from a continuously improving Windows experience. Similar to how the Windows 8.1 Update process works today, the pilot program will automatically update consumer Windows 8 and Windows RT machines for free to Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update in select markets.”

When Microsoft delivered Windows 8.1 last year, the company used the Windows Store to distribute 8.1 (for both Intel and ARM) to Windows 8 users. I talked to a number of users who either didn't understand or couldn't find the 8.1 release in the Store. Some also said they had trouble applying the update from the Store. But when Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Update in April 2014, it used Windows Update, not the Windows Store, to make the latest release available.

Making Windows updates more easily (and more cheaply) available is part of the OS team's overall servicability strategy.

Microsoft's OS team is trying to get to a point where it delivers updates for Windows around on a more regular basis -- perhaps as often as every four months or so, my sources have said. This is what a number of other teams at Microsoft do now, such as the Visual Studio team (three or four updates a year); the Office 365 team (near monthly updates); and the Azure team (monthly or even every three week updates).

To make this simpler, the Windows team wants to get users current. The goal is to get every Windows 7 user running Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and every Windows 8/8.x user running Windows 8.1 Update. That way, there will be fewer different variants of Windows out there when Microsoft starts releasing Windows updates more frequently. 

One additional step Microsoft took recently as part of this get-current move was to cease providing consumers running Windows 8.1 with any security or other patches unless they are running Windows 8.1 Update.

(Thanks to ZDNet's Larry Seltzer for the link to today's Windows RT automatic update.)

Topics: Windows 8, IT Priorities, Microsoft, IT Policies


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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  • This is a great move by Microsoft

    Hopefully they can get everyone updated. The improvements in 8.1 Update 1 are really quite nice and make Windows 8 very usable for even those still longing for the old UI. I don't get why they ever went with the store having the update to begin with, it was very confusing trying to walk users through the installation.
    • Microsoft Updates Break More Than They Fix!

      My hybrid is staying on Windows 8.0 because:

      * I never use Metro because the apps are slow and buggy.

      * Installing a Microsoft update is like slipping on a banana peel, you don't know exactly where you're going to land, but it's going to be painful when you finally do.

      * installing MS updates is a neverending process, and I have better things to do with my time!

      Stop giving MS credit for screwing things up that they had 30-years to get right.

      This only goes to show you how a monopoly can make you lazy and arrogant.

      Now that MS finally has to compete for the first time in over 3-decades, we see the real MS at work... and it's anything but pretty.
      • Windows 8.0?

        Wow, you are missing out on many new useful features and UI improvements in 8.1. Do they have to keep mentioning that it's free?
        • Microshaft

          Everything Microshaft does rubs me the wrong way. I'm due for a new desktop pc but I really want a Linux box.

          Ralph Falkenburg
          Ralph E. Falkenburg Jr.
          • Linux

            Have fun with your Linux box. To each his own.
            I guess we won't see you in threads about Microsoft products anymore, so this is goodbye.
          • Goodbye

            Nice not knowing you! Don't slam the door on your butt on the way out!
          • Good for you!

            BTW, how long have you been orally attached to Dick Stallman's nutsack?
      • Please stop it, randy...

        * If you download buggy apps, prepare for a buggy experience. None of the Metro apps I use are buggy or slow.

        * A Windows Update works like updates for any other OS. Are you afraid of being able to choose which patch you want to be able to install?

        * It isn't our problem if you enjoy watching an update download. If you were normal, you'd do something like surf the internet, or even get some work done. It's two little things called "background updating" and "common sense".
        • Re-Boot Now!

          I really miss those constant M$ re-boot reminders & interruptions since swithching to Linux.
          • Did you...

            ...changed your settings to download instead of installing updates on Windows automatically? Easy solution to annoying interruptions if you ask me.
          • And

            What are you doing here?
            Now go back and fix that OpenSSL / Heartbleed problem ! Didn't happen in Windows and yet look at all the attention for an OS than only has 1.6% of the market shere for OSs.
      • hahahaha

        Report to your rant management professional immediately...
      • Huh?

        So you don't update your programs or OS? That's not a good practice, regardless of what it is. Linux gets "constant updates", and OSX does as well. Everything gets updates.

        And ... updating Windows from 8.0 to 8.1 has been painless for me on every machine I've done the update on.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • About buggy...

        Windows 8 metro apps are faster than desktop apps. Consider me user who has extensive experience with Windows 8.
      • Errrr

        "neverending process" - Once a month? Wondering if you actually have used Windows 8 at all or fore that matter Windows.
        "apps are slow and buggy" or maybe your system is slow and buggy. Did you upgrade or do a fresh install? I rarely use the Modern apps [saying "Metro apps" tells me you haven't use Windows 8 much].
        "they had 30-years to get right" - Windows hasn't been out that long.
    • Good as long as they remain voluntary and 8.0 remains supported on PC's

      Windows 8.0 has refused point blank to update to 8.1 for me on a couple of clients' machines so I left them with 8.0 (driver issues I think).
      As long as automatically updating to 8.1 and above does not mean Microsoft ignoring support for 8.0 this is not a problem.
      • Some older processors....

        ...such as Intel Pentium 4 or D do not support Windows 8.1 64bit because they are not 64bit processors. You should reinstall your machines with Windows 8 32bit and you should be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1.
    • Windows Update Owns your PC

      Nothing like checking back in on an extensive time comsuming process only to discover it's been dumped following an Auto Update/re-boot despite originaly setting your updates to Notify Only yet M$ had secretly switched back to Auto at some earlier update.
      • Typical

        From a Linux wanker. Fixed that OpenSSL / Heartbleed problem yet?
  • Windows 8 updates

    Microsoft needs to work on making their updates more foolproof. I've got two Windows 8.1 computers. I've used the store to update both, and one of them I had to wipe clean to make it work. Then later I used Windows update to update them both and the other one wouldn't work. I had to download the update in segments and install them manually to make it work. That's a 50% failure rate for me, which isn't very good. Don't get me wrong - a definite Windows 8 person, but MS needs to stop shooting itself in the foot like this. Even MS support wasn't able to get my last update to work. And then they started hinting about charging for their help, so I went back to Google and finally figured out how to get it working. But most people aren't going to go the bother of downloading an update in bits and pieces to get it working. I hope they get that figured out by next time.