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Microsoft announces Windows 8.1 Preview; available for download today

Windows 8.1

Microsoft today has announced at its Build conference that the Windows 8.1 preview is now available to download and try out. The major update includes numerous features and improvements, which we have bundled in an easily digestible article to get you started.

If you're interested, you can download the preview from the Microsoft website.

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Reader comments

Microsoft announces Windows 8.1 Preview; available for download today

158 Comments

Before you dive in, do keep this in mind: http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-goes-public-with-windows-8-1-upgrade-poli...
 
"On Windows RT devices, it's the Windows Store/Metro-Style apps that will have to be reinstalled; for x86-based Windows 8 systems, testers will need to reinstall both their Windows Store/Metro-Style and Desktop apps, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Windows 8 users who do not install the preview build and opt instead to go straight from Windows 8/Windows RT to Windows 8.1 will not have to reinstall their apps. All settings, data and apps will carry over, a spokesperson said when I asked. Users will be able to decide when and if they want to move from Windows 8 and Windows RT to the 8.1 versions, officials stressed."

That's the great thing about RT, easy upgrade since you're not dealing with legacy applications.

They're going to make an .iso file available for download shortly so my guess would be yes, that you could theoretically create a separate smaller partition on your machine and install 8.1 on the side but just an educated guess at this point.

I don't know about that when you go to download it gives you advice about backing up RT devices! I'm getting the same error on my Surface RT though. 

No, it isn't just for Windows 8, Windows RT devices download an ARM specific version of the file required for the update.

==== FOUND A FIX ====
1. Place and rename the MSU file in an easily accessible place, e.g. C:\8preview\preview.msu
2. open command prompt in administrator mode.
3. Type: Expand –F:* c:\8preview\preview.msu C:\8preview\
4. Type: DISM.exe /Online /Add-Package /PackagePath:c:\8preview\Windows8-RT-KB2849636-x64.cab
DONE!

 

How far are you getitng before you get that message? On my Surface RT I am currently downloading the update fromt he Windows Store.

I have. Download the file on the website, follow the instructions and restart. Then you'll get a message on your computer to go into the Microsoft Store to download the 8.1 preview!

the file on the preview site is broken though, says "this update is not applicable to your computer"

Is it when after download the file and opening it; it says that error?
I'm using Windows 8 Pro. On a notebook. There was someone down the comments that got it to work on his Surface RT. I asked him to post the url for the specific RT Preview site.

==== FOUND A FIX ====

1. Place and rename the MSU file in an easily accessible place, e.g. C:\8preview\preview.msu
2. open command prompt in administrator mode.
3. Type: Expand –F:* c:\8preview\preview.msu C:\8preview\
4. Type: DISM.exe /Online /Add-Package /PackagePath:c:\8preview\Windows8-RT-KB2849636-x64.cab

DONE!

anyone tried this? savvy enough to want to do the update, not sure if i'm comfortable using CMD to get it to run though...

I'm getting that error on both my Windows 8 Pro Desktop and Surface RT. I wonder if it's because I'm using English UK and not English US, pretty big screw up on Microsofts part if that's the case.

I also think that is the case. I am in the Netherlands, but have a UK version of Win8. I did try to change the websites language to UK in order to see if i would get  a different install, but to no avail. I still get the stupid message. 
On my windows 8 desktop

Same here, on Surface RT, jusr did full factory reset and still no luck, now installing all older updates and going to try again
 

==== FOUND A FIX ====

 

1. Place and rename the MSU file in an easily accessible place, e.g. C:\8preview\preview.msu

2. open command prompt in administrator mode.

3. Type: Expand –F:* c:\8preview\preview.msu C:\8preview\

4. Type: DISM.exe /Online /Add-Package /PackagePath:c:\8preview\Windows8-RT-KB2849636-x64.cab

 

DONE!

That worked! Atleast, i got it to install but now the store says the update is ont available at the moment. Thank you anyway!

Same on RT English UK, download now button has disappeared now too so I guess someone has realised the cock up and will be spending the rest of the day getting sacked. They only had a few months to prepare for it.

Released in October by OEM's, green lite by carriers a month later and accessible on update servers by Xmas......

I'm using full Windows 8, but there may be some people having problems with getting the Preview on their RT devices. Can you post the url to the RT page please?

And Atom will be available later. I love my ThinkPad Tablet 2, it's a magnificent machine. But I'm not falling for that waiting game again. Expect preview no sooner than mid-2014.

After installing the store updating, nothing is appearing or something. Do I have to wait for it to pop up in the store?

After downloading the file on the preview website? You should restart and a message will pop up to take you to the store to download the 8.1 Preview.

Didn't got a message and still nothing in the store but I think it won't appear in the Dutch store (yet). Fingers crossed!

Same... I want to not install everything over again every year. Its getting tiring.... Ide hate to be Paul some days. Lol

Remember going from preview to customer release you will have to reinstall all apps. Easy from Windows store, but pain in the ass the old fashion way on desktop.

I notice that the button to download the pre requisite update has disappeared, I wonder if Microsoft realised their screw up and removed the link?

It did not disappear. I think your website location settings are not correct. On the US website, the button is still there.

Navigate over to:
Control Panel\Clock, Language and Region\Language

(Can just search for “language” in settings / Win+w)

and add new language which is English (United States). Go into the options of this new language and download and install language pack. A system restart is prompted, BUT WAIT. Not just yet.

Go into the registry editor (run regedit,exe) and navigate to HKey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Nls\Language and change the “InstallLanguage” string at the very bottom of the right pane to the value 0409 which is EN-US.

Then REBOOT and run the update file.

Ok this works !

Thanks but i also found out that if you change the base language to us eng & install 8.1 preview that base will be permanent. You can't change it later.

Installed the msu file from one of the links here in comments. Restarted, went to Store and saw the update. That's it.

Got to be at tires. Today should a windows 8.1 holiday. Cannot wait to start playing with it and I am really, really excited the new announced Bing API as a developer. Got some interesting ideas of app already.

So will I have to re-install all of my apps when the official update is released? If so, will it auto-download the apps (for surface rt)

I was going to go ahead and backup and then jump in with my laptop, but I'm not keen on having to reinstall all of my programs to upgrade from the preview to the final. 

well after about 1/3 the way through very slowly downloading, it stopped and says "Windows 8.1 Pro Preview couldn't be installed"  
"Something happened and the Windows 8.1 Preview couldn't be installed.  Please try again. Error code: 0x8020002e"
Is what I keep getting trying to start it again

kept restarting it and inch by inch it's done!  At least the download didn't have to start from the beginning each time.  Watch my install be corrupted in someway I'm yet to discover :D
But wow, it's like starting with a new OS install after it gets installed...

I downloaded and installed the prerequisite update. Restarted multiple times and browsed the store for the 8.1 ad. Nothing pops up. I'm confused...wtf

posting from 8.1 on my surface pro.   desktop installing now.  setup, download not to bad.  over wireless, in less then an hour.
really like ie11 metro changes.

ever since I got the package to get ready for the windows 8.1 download, my wifi was really flakey and kept losing internet access (remains connected).  I had to disconnect and reconnect repeatedly and I just gave up and plugged wired.  But as mentioned above comment, it eventually failed anyways

Well I got 8.1 installed on my PC and my Surface RT finally got the update installed form the store. Now it's actually installing it. One question though, did they get rid of Messages? Did they roll it into something else?

I just followed the link from the post each time on my desktop and from my Surface RT. Didn't encounter any of the errors people keep posting.

Did you download any prerequisite update before downloading the preview? Can you give the link,please?

Well, I can only vouch for my own experience. No hitches, no errors. At work, so I don't have a lot of time to play with it. But, I did fire up Outlook to see what it looks like. Just perfect! Sorry for all those having problems.

After installing the prerequisite update, still no popup after restarting 4 times. I'm noticing that whenever I try to go to computer properties and search for updates, explorer.exe crashes. Running Win8 Pro x86 on my laptop PC.

Looks like the preview is US only if the Communities Support site is anything to go by.
It's nice to see Microsoft giving EVERYONE a chance to try the preview /s

I'm not installing on my main desktop this round... Only on rt. Waiting for them to send me a replacement unit. :D:D:D

So if I install this on my desktop will all my desktop programs need to be reinstalled too? 
The big concern is having to re-sync 70gb+ of skydrive files. 
I could care less if Metro apps need re-installed.

Nope. Didn't lose anything. On my RT some apps had to be reinstalled. Had to do it for comiXology and all my comics were still on the device after I launched it.

Yes to go from preview to final release you have to reinstall all apps in Metro and desktop. If you wait for final release you won't have to.

First attempt on my RT didn't work. Got to the login for 8.1 then suddenly blue screen and unhappy face, reboot and it reverted back to previous in about 5 mins. Working on my 2nd attempt.

Have to agree, it's running like a dog on my Lenovo TPT2 :(

Edit: Actually, it's getting more fluid now... AND, all apps intact :)

When I try and download it from the store I just get the try again later message. I guess MS didnt anticipate 10 million people trying to download it at once? Classic MS

Do you have a language pack other than US English installed? I think if you are using other languages packs the Preview will not work.

The FAQ says the LP will be uninstalled. The Blog says that when you are using an LP you should wait for a fix coming soon.
While I could live with uninstalling my LP, a serious problem for me is the 10GB free space requirement for Windows RT to upgrade to 8.1. I'd have to delete unfinished games on my 32GB Surface.
Would and SD card helpe here? Is Windows RT bright enough to use the addidional storage for temporary files during the upgrade?

So basically I need to change from English UK to English US...this is retarded; I don't know why Microsoft bothers having 16 verations of English...so far the only differnce I've noticed is the date is now the WRONG way round =P but I can edit this in the language options.
Why this effects the formatting in the Windows Store baffles me completely, it's the same language technically apart from a few miss spelling that Americans have =P

Edit: After several resets it still won't let me download it, the writing looks normal now but still the same error =(

Somebody please tell me there's a way to turn off that stupid start button on the taskbar. The last thing I want on my Surface is a useless load of an icon taking up space where I could put something I want.

Just because whiners wanted it back doesn't mean I should be forced to have to see it. I don't even want to see it when I have a mouse plugged in. It's a needless throwback, and despite the fact that all this backpedaling is needed to get lame people to stop PMSing, suck it up, and use it, it chaps my ass that I have to be bothered with it.

Or maybe I should bellyache about how a windows logo suddenly showing up is "jarring and confusing." Tit for tat.

I haven't put 8.1 on my surface yet, but I can understand how that could be annoying. I did put 8.1 on my desktop. I don't particularly like the new icon myself, but I can see how it may be better for some (the tools comparing 8 to vista...). I don't see any options to remove it. It's probably best to start a thread about that on the microsoft forums for the 8.1 feedback.

And I very much intend to! :D I don't have a lot of respect for the PMS crowd, as I've yet to hear a reason that didn't sound like pure emo to me. Their butthurt has done npthing but cause me grief, since MS could have focused their efforts on improving the core product more if they didn't have to keep fighting fires started by cheap Apple loving bloggers.

Remember, when the control center thing slides up in iOS 7 and covers the whole phone's screen, it's a beautiful work of genius art. If MS tries it, it's "jarring and confusing."

You have to change your language from English UK to English US...I have no idea why it makes a difference but it does.

My keyboard no longer works on my desktop, nice going; this was not an update, it was an upgrade; wiped most of my desktop app settings and virus programs; the calendar app on my tablet has some weird color issues as well, oh previews...

Don't worry if you can't get it. It's the worst preview of Windows I ever tried. It sure looks promising, but it is so not even beta. Screen brightness is fixed at 100%, and while I could maybe even live with that, my VaioTap has slowed down to a crawl. New Multitasking may once become the biggest thing since sliced bread, or "windows", but since hardly any modern app will keep running for a significant amount of time, I can't appreciate it just yet. If really looked forward to this, but I actually need that computer for work. I'll let you know how the rollback works, if you're interested.

Let me guess your VaioTap has Intel graphics in it?
If so then that's a driver issue, not a Windows 8.1 issue!!!!