Windows 8.1 update leaks to the web, direct from Redmond

Windows 8.1 update leaks to the web, direct from Redmond

Summary: The much-anticipated Windows 8.1 spring update, released to manufacturing days ago and due for public distribution in early April, leaked to the web early. The source isn't a shady Eastern European download site but Microsoft's own Windows Update servers.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows 8

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.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows 8

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  • MS has lost mindshare...

    Does anybody care anymore?
    • Not really

      Msft has sold 20 million ultrabooks convertible and 4 million hybrid, plus 4 million tablet. so if you add that then you see that despite win pc falling, windows machine has not fallen that much. plus i have counted wp. plus you care cause you are here, so...
      • I think your proving his point revben

        Those are some small numbers. There is some concern, of course, but "The much-anticipated" might be over stating. A lot of msft engineers are desperate for windows to gain market share because they've got a lot invested in windows and they don't want to have to switch to Linux. Ed seems to have a lot invested in windows too. The upside is, once a person switches mindset to Linux, it's a great feeling. So all those engineers and Ed have a wonderful experience awaiting them. My Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop says there are 42,000 applications I can install. I've installed quite a few already. Haven't spent a dime. Feels great man.
        • Hahahahahahahahaha! Thety dont want to have to switch to Linux?!?! Ha!

          Credibility lost completely.

          Im not bashing Linux here, Ive used it and I will say right now if its the kind of OS that works for you there is nothing wrong with your choice.

          But nobody HAS to switch to Linux and nobody is switching to Linux.

          What pie in the sky nonsense.
          • The Worst Thing About Windows

            The Update Mechanism

            It's awful and needs a drastic overhaul. I should be able to set up a new system by downloading updates in one go and only a single reboot. Rebooting to after security patching IE ( a web browser !) is frankly unacceptable in this day and age. This is where Linux excels and MS need to look how it's done there and learn some lessons.
            Alan Smithie
          • There are a LOT of people switching...

            Entire governments even.

            Entire sectors of business.
      • Also 200 million copies of Windows 8 sold in 15 months

        yes, Windows is dead and the numbers are fake ..
        Nice bubble you live in
    • Appently many do care, from all reports

      Why, does that bother anyone?
    • Apparently you do

      You not only bothered to click on this article, but also commented on it. So obviously, you care.
      Third of Five
    • Message fot the troll above:

      I CARE!
  • Skipping this update

    As a desktop user, I am quite disappointed at this update. From the looks of things, I will now be annoyed by my desktop taskbar when I use Metro apps? A context menu on the Start Screen, when no other Metro apps will use it? Is Microsoft nuts? Just what are they aiming to do here?

    Windows 8.1 was a solid update, and showed Microsoft had a direction they wanted to move in... This update is just all over the place, has no uniformity, and quite frankly has design changes that were neither warranted or well thought out.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Taskbar will auto-hide

      It's not permanent, the Taskbar will auto-hide when you open Metro apps..
      It will only show when you hover the mouse on the bottom screen or press Windows key + T..
      If you don't want Context-menu, use Space bar while on Start..
    • There are other updates

      A good example is IE, it has been improved. Another thing is the built in SkyDrive that is now OneDrive.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • My explanation

      MS made an OS more oriented for tablets and touch, as it fails on tablets and desktop users are also not happy, they are at least trying to make their best costumers happy, doing "under pressure" changes.
      While maybe a few things will require tweaks in the future, I believe it's the right path... while the "metro" interface with those "ugly" tiles doesn't go away for good.
      • Ugly tiles?

        The Metro tiles are no uglier than Apple's iOS 7 tiles that showed up on my iphone when I updated it for Apples https: code failure. I've been stalling on updating my work laptop to Win 8.1 due to some reported compatability issues with of Autocad's vertical programs that I occasionally use. Assuming Autocad 2015 is Win 8.1 certified, I'll probably update then. I have not had any real issues with Win 8.0 to date - I use the tiles when they're useful, Start8 when they're not. Linux, on the other hand would be completely useless to me since far to many of the programs I use will not run on it.
        Dave S2
      • What a joke.

        If "ugly tiles" is your real concern, don't use them. This is all common knowledge stuff now. Don't act like there is some mystery about having to "use the tiles" or needing to have them in front of you all the time. If they are of no use to you there are ways to avoid them entirely.

        This is ridiculous.
        • Ugly tiles means not so great user experience

          I might be wrong, but at least I'm giving an explanation why all Microsoft operating systems based on tiles are failing.
          I know there are other problems with 8 but I wonder why after the sales failure that was WP7, Microsoft thought that it would be a great idea to opt the same style in desktop OS, tablet OS, Xbox OS and future variation of them.

          But I'll be waiting for your explanation why "ugly tiles" are not an important part of current Microsoft's problems... Hope you can do better than blame consumers or to say that your aunt loves "metro" :-)
    • Context menus

      Actually, if you plug a mouse, or even the touch cover on your Surface RT, Internet Explorer, the Metro version, does show context menus when you right click stuff.

      Go ahead and check yourself, I'll wait...


      Now, isn't having context menus elsewhere actually more uniform? I thought so too...

      Yes, that word seems to best describe what Microsoft is all about...
    • ...

      I actually think the context menu is one of the most useful aspects of any windows operating system and they never should've gotten rid of it in windows 8.

      Well, I guess technically they still have a context menu except instead of it appearing right at your mouse pointer, where it's most convenient, it appears in a bar format at the bottom of your screen. How is that better than a traditional context menu? It's not.

      Microsoft's biggest mistake was thinking they could combine a mobile OS with a desktop OS. Should've kept them separate.