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How to avoid nasty errors installing Windows 8.1 Preview (update)

Many users are eager to get their hands on the Windows 8.1 Preview that Microsoft made available for download just a few days ago. A difference from the previous beta releases of Windows 8, Microsoft this time is trying harder to advise users that while the preview is a very stable build of Windows 8.1, it’s still an unfinished product. This means that crashes, error, data corruption, and other type of errors are very well expected.

We already are seeing folks who aren’t able to update because they are getting specific error messages, such as “The update is not applicable to your computer” (which by the way you solve this issue using this guide).

Other errors include: “Something happened and the Windows 8.1 Preview couldn’t be installed. Please try again. Error Code: 0xc1900102″, and “The Windows 8.1 Preview isn’t available right now. Please try again later.”. This last message isn’t actually an error, it is only saying that too many people are downloading the preview and the Microsoft’s servers just can’t keep up with the demand. If you get this message, just wait a couple of hours and try again or opt to download the ISO file to install the preview.

Some users are even getting the error “Windows 8.1 Preview is not yet supported on this PC”. This specific issue is related to some PCs using Intel’s 32-bit Atom processors with graphic drivers that are still not supported by Windows 8.1 Preview. You’re most likely to see this happen on:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
  • Asus VivoTab TF810C
  • Samsung ATIV Smart PC
  • Fujitsu ARROWS Tab series tablets
  • Don’t install in these PCs 
  • HP ENVY x2
  • HP ElitePad 900

If you own any of these devices, do not install the update, Microsoft is working with various partners to solve this issue.

Although, errors are more likely to happen on unfinished products here are a few tips, you can use to try to minimize nasty errors while installing the update:

Unplug peripherals

Disconnect all unnecessary hardware from your PC before installing Windows 8.1 Preview, including: printers, external hard drives, USB devices, etc. — Just use the basics, a mouse, keyboard and monitor.

Uninstall apps

Uninstall all third-party applications that may interfere with the preview installation. For example, antivirus software, custom and old programs, and programs you rarely use. Just make sure you have the files to reinstall them, if you need to later on.

Free space

This isn’t mandatory, but make sure you have at least 10GB of free space to install Windows 8.1 Preview. Keep in mind that this is a requirement for Surface users who want to try the Windows RT 8.1 Preview.

Windows Update

Make sure you have installed the latest Windows updates in your PC. If you don’t have the latest patches from Microsoft could be the reason why you aren’t seeing the preview in the Store.

Don’t use primary PC

Using your primary PC to test an unfinished product is a really bad idea. Opt to install Windows 8.1 Preview on a spare PC or on a virtual machine (you can refer to this guide to create a VM) using the ISO image. These are good methods to avoid modifying anything on your main PC and they can save you time and a lot of headaches.

How to Dual Boot Windows 8.1 alongside Windows 8 

Opt to install the preview alongside Windows 8. This is called “Dual Boot” and it can easily be done by using the following instructions:

1 In the Start screen do a search for Disk Management and launch the tool.

2 Right-click the drive where Windows 8 is installed and select Shrink Volume.

3 Shrink the drive, making available a least 20-25GB.

4 Now you’ll notice the unallocated space, right-click this unused space and select New Simple Volume.

5 What you’ve done here is to create a partition to install the new operating system, now download the ISO version of Windows 8.1 Preview and create a DVD or USB bootable drive (Refer to this guide to do this).

6 Insert the newly created DVD or USB bootable drive in your PC and reboot (make sure the BIOS is set to boot from the bootable drive you are about to use.)

7 Once the installation starts, follow the instructions on the screen, choose Custom installation and it’s very important that you select now the new partition you created. Now click Next and the installation of Windows 8.1 Preview will start and it should dual boot alongside Windows 8.

FAQs installing Windows 8.1 Preview

Read the FAQs to make a formal decision to install the update, because installing the preview also means that you’ll need to reinstall all your apps when upgrading to Windows 8.1 RTM later this year.

Backup

Make a full backup of your PC before installing anything. This is a must, if everything were to go wrong, a backup can bring back all of your personal information, apps, settings, personalization, and the operating system.

As you can see there are plenty things you can do to avoid errors installing Windows 8.1 Preview. Remember that if you aren’t sure or you don’t feel up to the challenges, your best bet will be installing the preview on a spare PC or simply wait until Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 RTM.

Update: Error 0x80073cfb trying to update Windows 8.1 apps

If after upgrading to Windows 8.1 Preview, you receive the error 0x80073cfb on Windows Alarms, Reader, Reading List, Sound Recorder, and the Calculator app when trying to apply the updates. The best way to resolve this issue is by uninstalling and reinstalling all these apps (suggested by the Microsoft Community).  

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