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How to Download and Install Windows 8.1

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 22 comments
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After months of reviews and nearly a year of anticipation, the final version of Windows 8.1 is now available for download. If you already have Windows 8, you can get the OS upgrade for free and, considering all its great new features, you should do so right away. Here’s how you can download and install Windows 8.1 on your Windows 8 PC in just a few simple steps.

1. Launch the Windows Store app.

You should see a button that says “Update to Windows 8.1 for free.” If you do not see this button, make sure you download all the latest Windows updates then reboot and launch the Windows Store again.

2. Click the Download button which appears.

The system will then download a huge install file that’s over 3GB. You can keep using your computer while this download occurs in the background.

3. Restart your PC when Windows 8 tells you the download is completed.

Your computer will take several minutes to install Windows 8.1, during which time you will be unable to use it.

MORE:15 Ways to Speed Up Your Boot and Shutdown Times

4. Accept the License Terms that appear during the install.


5. Choose Express or Custom settings for your install.

Express is usually the easiest and best set of choices.

6. Log into Windows using your normal username and password.


7. Allow Windows to send you a security code via SMS and enter the code at a prompt.

If you skip this step, you may have trouble syncing your settings from other PCs.

8. Click Next on the Skydrive screen.

Windows will take a few minutes to finalize the install and then bring you straight to the Start Screen.

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  • 7 Hide
    milktea , October 17, 2013 10:47 AM
    Anyway to download the Win8.1 iso for offline install?
  • 1 Hide
    ninjustin , October 17, 2013 10:50 AM
    I'm normally pretty wary of Express settings so I went to customize them but the settings are all honestly the best option in this case for the most part.
  • 1 Hide
    Patrick Tobin , October 17, 2013 10:52 AM
    Looking forward to standalone network install.
  • 1 Hide
    digiex , October 17, 2013 11:00 AM
    "The system will then download a huge install file that’s over 3GB."

    This will take forever with my snail DSL connection.
  • 1 Hide
    ssdpro , October 17, 2013 11:16 AM
    I already contacted MS about the offline ISO file to do a fresh installation. As of today, there won't be one for current Windows 8 license holders. If you ever need to do a reinstall or wish to do a clean install, you have to install Windows 8, download the 3.1-3.5GB Windows 8.1 file pack and do the update. In watching this update on my own system (which went smoothly) it does restart 3 times just like a new install. It is basically like installing 2 OS's to get use of one.

    It blows and it makes me sad MS can't just be mature about it... we have keys AND have to go through activation. On top of that you have to install 2 OS to get the use of one.
  • 0 Hide
    hents1230 , October 17, 2013 11:22 AM
    ive had windows 8.1 for like a month now and its great. I got iso of windows 8.1
  • -1 Hide
    hents1230 , October 17, 2013 11:24 AM
    ive had windows 8.1 for like a month now and its great. I got iso of windows 8.1
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 17, 2013 11:49 AM
    I think I'll wait till next week, when the servers aren't being hammered
  • -1 Hide
    mcgee101 , October 17, 2013 12:35 PM
    I purchased 8.1 on Mon and 8.1 pro disc I cant even upgrade... I like 8.1 when I installed it onto another computer I was building.. Somewhat frustrating (like IE is a joke crashing on the opening session). Also some drivers are finniky. Like Nvidia has some issues with the previous and new driver releases.. Clipping issues that werent there on 8. Asus is a mess under 8.1 I like the new options for software and start menu setup. I WANT MY COMPUTER BACK ON MY DESKTOP.
  • 0 Hide
    red77star , October 17, 2013 1:02 PM
    I would suggest to use ISO for 8.1 and do clean install. Also get Start8 to get Start Menu back...make OS usable.
  • 2 Hide
    red77star , October 17, 2013 1:05 PM
    If you have your local account don't switch it to microsoft account cause it will mess up lot of things...especially if you are programmer who is using windows authentication for SQL. MS -> makes worst design choices ever. When you get prompt to sign up with Microsoft account type in some fake account in correct email format and some fake password. You will get option to skip that non sense and continue using your local account. You will notice if you try to use Store or any Metro app it will prompt you again to switch to Microsoft account but then you get option on the bottom to use your outlook account just one time for particular app and still keep local account. MS doesn't recommend it but wtf they know.
  • 1 Hide
    red77star , October 17, 2013 1:08 PM
    Too bad for sky drive, i liked the way it behaved before but since it is integrated with Windows 8.1 and MS being arrogant about where should i save files i turned it off and switched to bit casa -> much better thing!
  • 2 Hide
    dimar , October 17, 2013 1:15 PM
    Found an issue. Can't forget a wireless network. Right click just doesn't work. Had to do it from the CMD.
  • 1 Hide
    Quarkzquarkz , October 17, 2013 2:07 PM
    Why is 8.1 better than 8.0 again? I've been under a rock and I really don't see another point of updating ... AGAIN.
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , October 17, 2013 3:29 PM
    Does this procedure work for pirated versions, for instance cracked via kmsnano?
  • 0 Hide
    Bloob , October 17, 2013 8:00 PM
    Too bad I get a BSOD before getting to accept the license.
  • 1 Hide
    danm2z , October 18, 2013 4:57 AM
    The upgrade process doesn't work if you've split your Windows drive and Users drive. You get an error message stating that 8.1 is not compatible with your PC. I guess MS is now in league with the hard drive makers to either make you buy a huge SSD or get rid of it completely. So sad :( .
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , October 18, 2013 8:48 AM
    Can anyone confirm what happens if you have win8 and classic shell installed when upgrading to win8.1? Do you have to resinstall classic shell or is it easy ride... or not?
  • 0 Hide
    Tony Clark , October 18, 2013 8:51 AM
    Good idea to wait a few days. I have a fairly fast DSL line with 16Mbps download, but server load yesterday was very high. Started the process at 20.00 yesterday and got finished finally after I got up today about 630 am.

    Im a Mac/tablet person so was ok with W8 in its earlier form. 8.1 seems a bit so-what?
  • 0 Hide
    red77star , October 18, 2013 10:43 AM
    Again, i suggest clean full install. Any upgrade on Windows goes terrible, from my experience.
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