Windows 8.1 users: It's time to move to Windows 8.1 Update

Windows 8.1 users: It's time to move to Windows 8.1 Update

Summary: As of April 8, Microsoft will make available to all Windows 8.1 users an update for the operating system. In order to continue to get patches, 8.1 users need to move to it soon.


As of tomorrow, April 8, all Windows 8.1 users will be able to move to Windows 8.1 Update.


Microsoft will be making the Update -- formerly known by those of us who've been tracking it for a while now as "Update 1" and/or "Spring Update" -- available via Windows Update. This just in: It will be available starting around 10 a.m. PDT/1 p.m. EDT Tuesday via the Control Panel, meaning users can manually obtain and install it. Automatic delivery of the Update will be throttled, so users may not see it show up until some time later.

The Update, designed primarily to make Windows 8 more palatable for mouse/keyboard users, will be designated as an "Important" security update when it's rolled out tomorrow. It's actually very important, as Microsoft is going to require all Windows 8.1 users to have Windows 8.1 Update installed if they plan to continue to download any security or feature updates to the operating system.

Microsoft's Premier Field Engineering blog, in an April 7 post outlining the update, makes this plain:

"Failure to install this (Windows 8.1) Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)"

A Microsoft Springboard Series blog post from April 2 also emphasizes that Windows 8.1 users need to move to Update to continue getting patches.

This requirement does not apply to Windows 8 users who have not upgraded already to Windows 8.1, confirmed Mark Morowczynski, a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer. Windows 8 will remain supported by Microsoft until January 12, 2016, according to its lifecycle page. Users have until that time to move to Windows 8.1 and/or future Windows releases to remain supported by the company. (I have a question into Microsoft's Windows team to triple check that this is the case.)

The Windows 8.1 Update is cumulative and includes all previously released security and non-security updates. It also requires users be running Windows 8.1 as a prerequisite, so those still running plain-old Windows 8 need to do a two-step upgrade, the Premier Field Engineering folks note.  Update: Those running Windows 8 will be able to move to 8.1 Update without updating to 8.1 first, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft made Windows 8.1 Update available on April 2 to its MSDN/TechNet subscribers. I installed those bits, courtesy of Microsoft, and am a lot happier with Windows 8.1 as a result. I use the mouse a lot, even with touch devices. I found the Update makes moving between the Metro-Style/"Modern" and Desktop environments somewhat less jarring.

As the Ask Premier Field Engineering blog notes, Windows 8.1 Update "will likely change your system's current behavior." Those using devices other than pure touch tablets will see their systems boot to Desktop by default, though users can change this setting and still boot straight to the Metro-Style/Start Menu if they prefer.

The Start Menu and windowed Metro-Style apps that Microsoft officials acknowledged were coming are NOT part of this Update.

Other tidbits worth knowing:

By the way, it's not just Windows client getting this update; server is getting it, as well. Windows Server 2012 R2 Update. Microsoft began rolling this server-side update out to TechNet/MSDN subscribers on April 2

The Windows Server version of the update includes all the previously-released monthly roll-ups, updates and security fixes since RTM; various bug fixes; Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer (also included in Windows 8.1 Update) and more.

Windows Server 2012 R2 users also need to apply this Update if they want continued patches and fixes delivered to them. (Thanks to @TeroAlhonen for that reminder.)

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


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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  • Absurd

    I installed Windows 8 prior to 8.1 to replace my WHS. I tried to update to Win 8.1 but my processor dies not meet the requirements. Figured no big deal I'll stick with 8.

    So now after MS praised how Win 8 will run fine on older systems they changed hardware requirements for 8.1 making my system useless next year. This is a joke.
    • Can you provide more detail?

      Which processor?
      • Processor

        Intel Xeon 3400DP 3.4 GHz
        • Go here to get your the answer.

          • Windows Site Marginally Helpful

            The site tells what three things your processor must be able to use, but it doesn't give a clue as to what category of processors meet those standards.

            1. PAE gives 32-bit processors the ability to use more than 4 GB of physical memory on capable versions of Windows, and is a prerequisite for NX.

            2. NX helps your processor guard the PC from attacks by malicious software.

            3. SSE2 is a standard instruction set on processors that is increasingly used by third-party apps and drivers.
          • Typical Microsoft

            Microsoft never takes a walk in the customers' shoes and tries to make it easy for the customer. So now people need to figure out whether the processors in their systems can run 8.1? Well, why not provide a simple-minded tool that anyone can run. It would give you a thumbs up or down on your hardware configuration, and, if the hardware is not able to run 8.1, tell people exactly which hardware is deficient, and maybe it can be upgraded. The Windows 7 OEM pre-installation kit is supposed to do this for Windows 7, but I never use it because I make sure that the hardware on which I install Win 7 is way better than the meager configuration stated by Microsoft.

            While on the topic of Microsoft making it easy for customers, why do you think so many people are still running XP? Well, we all know Vista was awful. But let me count the ways Microsoft could have made it easier. First, put a simple configuration tool in customer hands, once again thumbs up or down. Again, if thumbs down, tell customer what needs to be added to get a Win 7-compliant system. Next, make a decent upgrade path available for the same computer. Microsoft NEVER did this. It was all manual labor to tweak a system upgraded from XP to 7. Okay, so you have to replace the system. I must say that Windows Easy File Transfer is pretty easy and it works quite well, after being improved from it early Vista days. Next problem: Cost, cost, cost. Not only does the customer buy a new system, Microsoft licensing and activation either make it impossible to re-use licensed software on a different OS, or they make it a Herculean task.

            The world economy tanked in 2008, and, look around, how many countries have a booming economy today? Many people still do not have the money to invest in an XP replacement computer. And there is the time and expertise needed to get it done.
          • Windows 8.1 upgrade assistant

            You wrote a lot of text in vain.
            Google "windows 8.1 upgrade assistant"

            I always wonder why do people prefer to write for half an hour instead of searching for 30 seconds. Whining is pleasure I guess.
          • windows phone 8.1

            Windows Phone 8.1 update
          • Errrr.....

            Typical complainer about Microsoft [that you are]. You think Microsoft should support every configuration available?
        • 8.1 requirements

          yeah that's only a single core processor. . .a high end one, but still time to search ebay for an upgrade. I believe the requirements are:
          1. 2.0+Ghz dual core cpu
          2. 1 GB of ram(32bit ver), 2 GB(64bit ver)
          I agree though, it's dumb that you were able to install win8, but not 8.1. as far as I can tell there hasn't been any change between the two, that'd justify the new requirement. moving thing to/from usb drives goes much better though. I'd say complain to MS, but we already know they don't really listen. . . unless of course it's about their xbox game consoles anyway.
        • How To Check If Your Processor Supports PAE, NX And SSE2 For Windows 8 Inst

  • Don't Feel Bad

    With "cloud computing" and online software stores, your PC, regardless of OS, is becoming a dumb internet terminal, anyway...
    • Works great!

      Upgraded my Surface Pro i5 256GB SSD which came with 8.0, and my Lenovo Lynx 64GB system to the 8.1 update fine. I have only had them done an hour or so and haven't noticed any big difference on first blush. Interesting to note that both systems came with 8.0, both were upgraded to 8.1 without a hitch, and both are January 2013 systems. I'm impressed. My Dell XPS 2720 very high end all in one with the i7, 8 GB of RAM, and the 32GB SSD boot with 2TB drive could not run 8.1 without glitches. Same with my HP Envy X2 windows 8.0 Tablet. Lenovo and Microsoft always take updates to the OS fine so far. My HP is great but the vendor drivers and updates testing appears to be lacking. The Lenovo was a pain until in March they finally came out with the right graphics drivers etc.

      I tried the drivers before from Dell and HP and both failed. I will check again for newer drivers and see.

      It ain't Microsoft dropping the ball. It's the Vendors.
      • Win 8.1 drivers

        Your right what's up with that? I bought a new Gateway LT41 in December 2013 manufacture date October and I upgraded from 8 to 8.1 and the drivers were not compatible. Well I left the computer unused to wait for the drivers and still no drivers I contacted Gateway directly and they just plain said it's not compatible with 8.1 period not happy at all I certainly would have returned it. Also why the big change in driver model? for an update that seems to be a minor Gui update, is it security, performance, or some inherent operating system change? The vendors should do a better job keeping end users informed and updating drivers. One other issue is that there is no clean install SST (small screen touch) the product key will not work with Win 8 or 8 Pro. I don't like to run drivers in compatibility mode (many won't anyways) I sure hope there is a solution soon.
  • Will having security patches qualify as improvement?

    The theory says that you should keep using XP. The practice is that it will be unsupported.

    Performance wise I've felt 7 to be faster than XP. I haven't felt any performance issues with 8.

    I personally don't like 8 either but I still plead: please move out of XP. It is like vaccines: You protect others by protecting your self.
  • Android... Android

    More and more people are moving to the Android flavor of Linux... my phone & tablet seldom need to boot, when they do, it's at least as fast as my Win7 machine, I find myself playing more games on my phone/tablet than on my Win7 machine these days, and I run AndrOffice about as much as I run Word or Excel on my Win7 machine... probably more.
    • You must have a slow Windows 7 machine

      I have never had a fast booting android device. It comes from the lackluster storage speeds, I think.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Yes Android is good

      For basic stuff, it's like going back to Windows 3.1 but hey, if you what to go back to the past off you go!
    • Boot speeds

      If you ran Windows7 from memory, that too would be just as fast. Swap to an SSD then you will see a huge improvement in windows or anything.
    • lagdroid?

      the battery eating pos. I get better battery life from my core i7 laptop than I did from a lagdroid phone. never, ever, again will I buy anything with lagdroid on it.