How to upgrade Windows 8 to Preview to Windows 8.1 RTM

Windows 8.1 Start screen bigger and smaller tiles

Windows 8.1, formerly known as “Blue”, it’s a full-featured update set to fix many shortcomings in the operating system. Not only it brings fixes and improvements, but also it’s the first time that Microsoft introduces so many significant changes in one update.

For those who still unfamiliar, the Windows 8.1 will be free and the rumor is that the final version will become available for download in August 1. Also before the final release (a.k.a RTM) Microsoft is expected to release a Windows 8.1 Preview on June 26, 2013 during the BUILD conference.


Now, for those planning to install the preview, there are some FAQs worth noting. For example, upgrading to Windows 8.1 Preview won’t restrict users from installing the final version later on, but apps (metro-styled and desktop) will need to be reinstalled. On the other hand user accounts, personal data, settings, and personalization are preserved during the process. The same thing is true for Windows RT, but because desktop applications are not supported this is not a big a problem.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8.1 Preview: important FAQs to know before installing

Important note from Microsoft: 

  • If you are on Windows RT and have installed a language pack, please don’t install the Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. Microsoft will release a fix shortly.
  • Some tablets and PCs running newer 32-bit Atom processors require updates to their graphics drivers before they can run the Windows 8.1 Preview. Those tablets and PCs include the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, ASUS VivoTab TF810C, HP Envy X2, HP ElitePad 900, Samsung ATIV Smart PC, and Fujitsu ARROWS Tab. Microsoft is working closely with Intel and OEM partners to deliver updated drivers that will allow you to install the Windows 8.1 Preview as soon as possible.

Skipping the preview and waiting for the final release of Windows 8.1 means less trouble for the majority of users and it’s a straightforward process. Users will get notify, confirming the installation starts the process and all settings, personal data, apps (metro-styled and desktop), and personalization will be kept intact.

SEE ALSO: How the upgrade from Windows 8.1 Preview to the final RTM version works (update)

Upgrading to Windows 8.1 Preview

Although, Windows 8.1 Preview will be available from the Windows Store, every PC will be required to install an optional Windows update before anyone can see the notification to install the preview. (Keep in mind that Microsoft will also be offering an ISO with the necessary files for this installation. However the only way to update for Windows RT users is through the Store.)

Windows 8.1 update notification screenshot 586_wide
Windows 8.1 update notification screenshot – Image from Twitter user @sM4llziE

Once you confirm the notification, the necessary files will download, then Windows will restart, the update installation starts, and after accepting the license agreement again, you’ll need to complete the OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) setup.

Notes: If you’re connected to the internet when installing Windows 8.1 Preview, you won’t be offered a local account setup option. But you can configure this later if you need to.

From Preview to Windows 8.1 RTM without losing any apps

Like I mentioned earlier, Microsoft will force you to reinstall all your apps, if you decide to test the preview. One way to get around this situation and keep all of your apps moving to the final version of Windows 8.1 is by simply creating a full system backup now, before installing the update. When the time comes, you can restore your system with the backup that contains all the apps and then proceed with the installation of Windows 8.1 RTM.

Other things you need to know

  • Moving to “8.1” is a decision you have to make, it’s not a mandatory update, but is highly recommended to install to enhance your Windows 8 experience, to get new great apps, and new features, such as auto-triggered VPN, boot-to-desktop, bring back the Start button, new search capabilities, and a lot more.
  • Even though, the new changes will eventually come integrated in installation media of the operating system, this still an update and you’ll have to have Windows 8 installed before moving to the final version of Windows 8.1.
  • In the case you need to rollback Windows 8 from Windows 8.1, Microsoft will offer a way to get back to your previous installation. However, the company didn’t specify what will be kept.

SEE ALSO: Download Windows 8.1 Preview ISO image from Microsoft

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].