Everything you need to know about the Windows 8.1 rollout, including pricing and availability


Windows 8.1 Start Screen

Windows 8.1 is finally upon us. Windows 8, which was released back in October of 2012, received much heat over the removal of the Start button and the introduction of the Start Screen, among other things. This update to Windows 8 is set for release in a few days and will not only bring back the Start button, but provide all the necessary improvements and consumer-requested features to Windows 8. Let’s go over a few things so clear the air about this update.

First of all, Windows 8.1 is considered an update and not an upgrade. The download will be available for Windows 8 and Windows RT users on October 17th at 4AM PST. You can also purchase a DVD of Windows 8.1 so you can easily do clean installations. For those of you who are already on Windows 8.1, you are all set. All you need to do is install the ‘GA Rollup A’ update with brings numerous fixes to the operating system on day one.

Update or Upgrade?

Did you know that Windows 8.1 is considered an update to Windows 8 and not an upgrade? According to Microsoft, Windows 8.1 is an update and not an upgrade. If Windows 8.1 was an upgrade, Microsoft would have deferred revenue or charged consumers for using or purchasing the upgrade. This would ultimately affect the Windows earnings, which we would see during quarterly financial results.

Microsoft’s reasoning for calling Windows 8.1 an update and not an upgrade revolves around money and the attempt to not lose any.

How do I download it?

On October 17th, Microsoft will be providing a download link for the Windows 8.1 Update. The update is free and will be available via the Windows Store. Beginning 12:00AM on October 18th in New Zealand, or 4:00AM October 17th in Redmond, Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 will begin rolling out worldwide as a free update. Microsoft may offer the update as a separate download, perhaps an ISO file, so you can save it on your thumb drive or DVD. Microsoft will not be offering an ISO file for the update itself.

How can I buy it?

While Windows 8.1 is set to be a free update for current Windows 8 users, Microsoft is offering a full version of Windows 8, complete with the Windows 8.1 update, for the same price as Windows 8. Now you can install Windows 8.1 directly from a DVD!

While pricing varies by market, in the U.S., Windows 8.1 will be available for $119.99 ERP (US) and Windows 8.1 Pro will be available for $199.99 ERP (US). 

Using the Windows 8.1 DVD, you can update from Windows 7 and retain your personal files while having to reinstall all your software. Windows XP and Windows Vista are unable to update to Windows 8.1 and Microsoft suggests booting from the Windows 8.1 DVD and doing a clean install.

You can also purchase Windows 8.1 Pro Pack for $99.99, which gives you Windows Media Center. If you are already on Windows 8.1 Pro, you can buy Windows Media Center for $9.99.

What about my apps?

For those of you who are on the Windows 8.1 Preview, upgrading to the final release of Windows 8.1 is possible, but you will need to re-install all your apps. Unfortunately, you will only be able to transfer your data from the Preview to the final version of Windows 8.1 and all desktop and Windows Store apps will have to be re-installed.

However, for those of you who stuck with Windows RT or Windows 8 and avoided the Windows 8.1 Preview, you will be able to update to the Windows 8.1 update without the loss of anything.

Those of you on Windows 7 can update to Windows 8.1, however you will be required to install all your software again. Your personal files will remain in tact. Those on Windows XP or Windows Vista will be required to use the Windows 8.1 DVD, and will not be able to keep any files, setting, or apps.

Can I uninstall the Windows 8.1 Preview?

Simply put, no. The only way to roll back to your previous Windows 8 installation is to do a format and re-install Windows 8. If you created a backup of Windows 8 prior to installing the 8.1 Preview, just restore that backup. It will obviously be a smoother process to go from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, rather than Windows 8.1 Preview to Windows 8.1.

How about some tips?

What’s next?

Microsoft is set to roll out a free update to the Windows 8.1 update, called GA Rollup A. This update, which was leaked in 64bit already, will finalize the code in Windows 8.1. Microsoft may have released Windows 8.1 to manufacturing, but the operating system was still incomplete. This update completes the code. Microsoft is set to roll out this update on the day of Windows 8.1’s release, if not immediately after.

You can head over here to read our Windows 8.1 Review! You can also check out our video walkthrough of Windows 8.1 embedded below if you haven’t already seen it:

Post has been updated to reflect that Microsoft has yet to reveal if there will be a standalone ISO of the update. Microsoft may have provided the ISO of the 8.1 Preview, but we are not sure if Microsoft will do the same for the final build. Will it just be available as an update from the Windows Store? Probably not, but we will just have to wait and see. If an ISO does become available, we will provide the download link.