Windows 8.1 Preview: important FAQs to know before installing (update)

Windows 8.1 Preview update notification 780_wide

With Windows 8.1 Preview now available for download, many tech enthusiasts may be asking if they should install the update or not. The fact is that the preview is not a final product and an unexpected error can occur, but Microsoft says that it’s OK to install and even Windows 7 users will be able to install the update. However there are several things you should keep in mind before installing:

Before I layout all the FAQs, check you the previous article I wrote upgrading to Preview to Windows 8.1 RTM. There you will have a good understanding on what will happen when you update.

What is Windows 8.1 Preview?

Let’s start by saying that this is not a new version of Windows, it’s simply an update. Windows 8.1 Preview and Windows RT 8.1 Preview bring a tremendous amount of changes and enhancements to stay more productive. The update also brings a new personalization experience, new apps, new search capability, and a totally redesigned Windows Store.

Who can install Windows 8.1 Preview?

Simple answer: anyone. However because this isn’t a final product, Microsoft recommends that only savvy users should try the new preview, there are a lot things that can go wrong and troubleshooting PC knowledge is a must have.

Can I rollback Windows RT 8.1 Preview from my RT tablet?

No, you cannot, but you’ll be upgraded to the final version of Windows RT 8.1 when it becomes available.

If the installation of Windows RT 8.1 Preview fails, you’ll need to contact your PC manufacturer for help.

Can I lose my data installing Windows 8.1 Preview?

Yes. There are some risks installing an unfinished product. Your Windows PC could crash and you could also lose data. It’s highly recommended to backup your data or create a full system backup before installing the update.

Is the system requirement for Windows 8.1 Preview different from Windows 8?

No. If you are running Windows 8, you’ll be able install Windows 8.1 Preview. Though, Windows RT 8.1 does need 10GB of free storage space.

Additional requirements:

  • For a 64-bit installation the processor must also support CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW and LAHF/SAHF.
  • To access the Windows Store you’ll need a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 and a Microsoft account.

In how many languages is the preview available in?

13 languages including: Arabic, English (US), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

Keep in mind that if you install the preview in a different language from the one currently on your PC, you will only be able to keep your files during the update process and nothing else. And additional languages installed in your system will be removed.

Will my current peripherals and applications work with Windows 8.1 Preview?

Yes, they should work just fine, but in some cases the device or application might not work or it could require an update.

Will I lose Windows Media Center installing Windows 8.1 Preview?

No, if you install the preview through the Windows Store, Windows Media Center will stay on your PC. On the other hand, if you install the update from the ISO file, Windows Media Center will be removed, and you’ll need to reinstall the software with the Windows 8 Pro Pack or Windows 8 Media Center Pack product key.

What will I be able to keep after installing the update?

Installing Windows 8.1 Preview using an ISO file, you won’t be able to keep any apps, settings, or personal files. If you install the update through the Windows Store, you’ll be able to keep most of apps, settings and personal files. The list below shows you what you can keep during the update depending on your current OS.

  • Windows 8: Windows settings, personal files, and most apps
  • Windows RT: Windows settings, personal files, and most apps
  • Windows 7: Personal files.
  • Windows Vista: Nothing
  • Windows XP: Nothing

Can I install Windows 8.1 Preview on Windows 7, Vista, or XP?

Yes, according to Microsoft, you can install the preview in Windows 7, Vista, or XP, but it has to be by performing a clean install.

Will I be able to keep my apps when installing Windows 8.1 RTM?

No, you’ll be able to keep your personal files, but you will have to reinstall all your apps.

How do I install the preview?

Through the Windows Store or using an ISO file. Check this article for more information: How to upgrade Windows 8 to Preview, to Windows 8.1 RTM

Do I need a product key to install Windows 8.1 Preview?

If you install the preview through the Windows Store you won’t need a product key, but if you download the ISO file you’ll need this product key: NTTX3-RV7VB-T7X7F-WQYYY-9Y92F.

How to uninstall Windows 8.1 Preview?

Microsoft does not support uninstalling the preview. However, if you performed a full backup or if your PC came with Windows 8, you might be able to rollback the installation by using the Refresh your PC feature.

If your previous operating system was Windows 7, Vista, or XP, you won’t be able to uninstall the update. To go back to the original OS, you’ll have to install Windows from scratch or from backup.


Microsoft is also recommending not to install Windows RT 8.1 Preview, if you have installed a language pack. A fix will be released shortly.

Also 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.

Update: Why Windows 8.1 Preview doesn’t appear in the Store?

Windows 8.1 Preview is not supported for all the versions of the operating system, as such the update will not appear under the following conditions:

  • If you are running Windows 8 Enterprise
  • If you are running Windows 8 Pro activated with a Volume License
  • If your base language is not one of the 13 supported languages, and you found a workaround for installing the prerequisite Windows Update.

Your best option in this situation is to download the ISO file and proceed with a clean installation of the operating system.

Source 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].