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Microsoft outlines Windows 8.1 upgrade plans

Microsoft outlines Windows 8.1 upgrade plans

Microsoft has detailed how users will be upgrading to Windows 8.1, but if you're thinking of using the Public Preview at the end of the month you may be in for a surprise come the retail release.

Microsoft has released details of how users looking to try Windows 8.1 before its official release will handle the upgrade process - and, sadly, it's not looking terribly straightforward.

Microsoft's Michael Niehaus explained how the public preview - scheduled for the 26th of June - will work during a TechEd North America session attended by ZDNet. Users running Windows 8 or Windows RT - Microsoft's ARM-based cut-down tablet-centric version of the operating system - will receive a notification that the Windows 8.1 Public Preview is available once it goes live on Microsoft's servers.

Those who want to try out the new operating system, which includes numerous improvements over Windows 8 including tweaks to improve the Modern UI experience when using a keyboard and mouse, support for connecting to printers by scanning a near-field communication (NFC) tag and better administrative controls, can do so by agreeing to the notification. As with previous public previews, the software will be provided to the user free of charge.

So far, so straightforward: see the update, read the disclaimer, hit the go-button, wait for it to install, enjoy the benefits of what was once known by the codename Windows Blue. The problem, however, comes when the test version gives way to the full retail release.

As with the Windows 8.1 Public Preview, the final release of Windows 8.1 will be provided to all Windows 8 and Windows RT users as a free-of-charge update appearing in a system notification. Users need simply acknowledge the notification and allow the Windows Store to upgrade the operating system. That is, unless you've been trying the public preview.

Microsoft's reward for its army of unpaid beta-testers: a migration from Windows 8.1 Release Preview to the final retail release will see users having to reinstall all applications from scratch. While personal preferences and data will be retained, any application - whether a Modern UI app installed through the Windows Store or a traditional Desktop application installed manually - will need to be reinstalled before it will operate correctly. Windows RT users are saved half that job, thanks to its lack of support for legacy applications - but will still need to reinstall all Modern UI apps.

For those hoping to avoid such a time-consuming task, Microsoft's message is simple: don't install the public preview. Users going straight from Windows 8 or Windows RT to Windows 8.1 when it officially launches later this year will find all their applications work just fine without reinstallation. The upgrade also isn't being forced: users who want to stick with Windows 8 or Windows RT will be free to do so, the company has stated.

11 Comments

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Bonedoctor 6th June 2013, 13:34 Quote
Hmmm. I smell rat.
bigc90210 6th June 2013, 14:01 Quote
well... wont be trying that till its done then....
Florian 6th June 2013, 14:03 Quote
How is this a surprise? Microsoft has never officially supported upgrading from beta code to gold. The only thing that has changed is that it's getting much easier for "normal" end users to get their hands on betas.
Stanley Tweedle 6th June 2013, 14:03 Quote
I'm impressed that tiles can be bigger and also smaller than previous tiles. That must have taken some real expert coding.
Corky42 6th June 2013, 14:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley Tweedle
I'm impressed that tiles can be bigger and also smaller than previous tiles. That must have taken some real expert coding.

Well those back room boys at Microsoft are the best of the best, and its amazing what a modern PC can do now days....
Stanley Tweedle 6th June 2013, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley Tweedle
I'm impressed that tiles can be bigger and also smaller than previous tiles. That must have taken some real expert coding.

Well those back room boys at Microsoft are the best of the best, and its amazing what a modern PC can do now days....

Seems so. Backdrop image behind tiles is also groundbreaking.
alpaca 6th June 2013, 14:35 Quote
And you don't even have to pay for it! Amazing.
RedFlames 6th June 2013, 15:00 Quote
As annoying as it may be, this is no different to past previews...
Yslen 6th June 2013, 15:29 Quote
8.1 actually looks pretty nice.
Gareth Halfacree 6th June 2013, 15:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
As annoying as it may be, this is no different to past previews...
I disagree: it's vastly different. Why? As the article mentions, end-users are going to be prompted to upgrade to the Public Preview. Every single Windows 8 and Windows RT user will receive a pop-up on or around the 26th, telling them that Windows 8.1 Public Preview is available, has a bunch of shiny new features and is available to install right damn now, free of charge.

Somewhere in that notice, it'll mention "oh, and by the way, if you install this you'll be reinstalling all your applications in a few months time."

How many people will actually see that warning and hit the 'No Thanks' button remains to be seen. This isn't like previous previews at all: you had to actively go out and find those, download them, burn them to a disc (or USB drive) and install 'em. That's not the case here, and that's why it's unique.
GoodBytes 6th June 2013, 15:53 Quote
There will be no pop-up update. It will be a Windows Update under optional. And I am sure it will tell you before you install it.

This is nothing new guys. In reality, if you really want, you can upgrade Windows 8.1 to Windows 8, and then apply Windows 8.1 when the final version come out, avoiding a re-installing your application. That is similar trick to what some people do when they use the beta version of Windows and switch to retail. It's not recommended, I don't recommend it, but doable.
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