Windows 8.1 will become available worldwide on October 18th and current Windows 8 and Windows RT users will get the update for free. Everyone wishing to download the Windows 8.1 update will be able to do so through the Windows Store, and the same day the new bits will come preinstalled on every new PC.
Keep in mind that Windows 8.1 General Availability is on Oct. 18th, but Windows 8 users will be able to download the update through the Store starting October 17th at 7AM Eastern Time. For everyone else the new operating system is up for purchase: Windows 8.1 (core) is priced at $119.99 and Windows 8.1 Pro has a price tag of $199.99. Also in this release Microsoft is discontinuing the upgrade option, now every copy is a full version, and users won’t need to have an OS pre-installed before installing the new version.
Getting Windows 8.1 now
Of course, if you are a TechNet or MSDN subscriber, or you have a DreamSpark account, you don’t have to wait for Windows 8.1 General Availability, you can download the RTM (Release To Manufacturer) .ISO file right now. Also like with every other piece of software there are other channels where you can download the installation files, such as from torrent sites, but that isn’t the right way to do it and I do not recommend it. However, if you do decide going the torrent way, at least make sure you check the Windows 8.1 ISO MD5 hashes with a tool like the Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Verifier (FCIV) to verify you’re downloading a file that hasn’t been tampered with.
- x64 — SHA1:BC2F7FF5C91C9F0F8676E39E703085C65072139B
- x86 — SHA1:802CFCD3A411D99C097EA7E747F0B6697F9BDAC4
At the beginning Microsoft will only offer to upgrade from the Windows Store, but certainly soon after the company will make available the .ISO file for everyone to download, and then you’ll be able to use Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to create a Windows 8.1 bootable media.
Know before installing Windows 8.1
Installing Windows 8.1 is a straightforward process: once the final version becomes available, you’ll be notified to install a Windows update and only then you will be able to download the new OS from the Windows Store, and you’ll be able keep your apps, accounts, or personal documents.
However, if you are running Windows 8.1 Preview, things are a bit different. Users who are running the Preview version of the operating system will also have the option to upgrade, but apps (modern apps and traditional desktop programs) will need to be reinstalled and during the upgrade process, documents, accounts, and settings will be preserved. So, don’t forget to backup!
Update: Here is the link to update Windows 8.1 for free from the Windows Store. Keep in mind that Microsoft’s server are getting a lot of traffic, because everyone is updating at the same time, so be patient if you get a 403 or Forbidden Error trying to download the final bits. Also make sure you install all the available updates before moving forward. For more information visit this Microsoft link!