The much-anticipated update to Windows 8.1, which is scheduled for release to the general public in early April, has leaked to the web early.
And this time the leak comes from an unexpected source: Microsoft itself.
After being released to manufacturing a couple days ago, the update was supposed to roll out on a carefully graduated schedule, first to “dogfooders” inside Microsoft, then to MSDN subscribers, and finally to the public via Windows Update.
For details on what's in the update, see "A new Windows 8.1 update tries to win back desktop diehards."
But thanks to some accurate instructions on the MyDigitalLife forum, anyone was able to download the update files directly from Microsoft, using direct links or by tweaking the registry to enable the update to appear in Windows Update. (Several hours after this story was published, Microsoft removed access to the crucial update file.)
The registry edit successfully enabled the updates on one test system, a Surface Pro running Windows 8.1 Pro. It didn’t work on a desktop system running Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition.
The complete package consists of six updates, the largest of which contains the Windows 8.1 Feature Pack. On an x64 test system, that download was approximately 761 MB in size.
The date on the update file corresponds with recent reports that Microsoft had finalized this release. It’s possible that there will be additional minor changes between now and April 8, when the update is scheduled for general release.
Asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "“We look forward to sharing details about the update soon.”
Update 7-March-2014, 5:00AM PST: Microsoft appears to have disabled the ability to install the update by editing the registry, and the direct download link for the main update file no longer works.