How to download the official Microsoft Windows 8.1 ISO

Windows 8 users who want to upgrade to Windows 8.1 without having to go through the Windows Store can use this trick to download the ISO with the Windows 8 product key.

Update to Windows 8.1
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Upgrading your Windows 8 system to Windows 8.1 is simple enough through the Microsoft Store, but if you need to reinstall it or run the update on more than one PC, it can be inconvenient and time-consuming since Microsoft doesn't give you the option to save the update files.

There's a trick, however, that allows you to download the official Windows 8.1 ISO from Microsoft's servers with your Windows 8 product key. With the Windows 8.1 ISO, you can create DVD or USB media to update a Windows 8 PC to Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, as Paul Thurrott over at WinSupersite mentions, you can't use the ISO to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 product key. The ISO is still worth having, though, just to be able to bypass the Microsoft Store when upgrading to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8. Here's how to download the official Windows 8.1 ISO:

Step 1: Go to Microsoft's page for upgrading to Windows 8 with a product key, then click on the light blue "Install Windows 8" button.

Windows 8/8.1 installation links
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Step 2: Launch the setup file (Windows8-Setup.exe) and enter your Windows 8 product key when prompted. Continue the setup process until it begins downloading Windows 8.

Step 3: Close the Windows 8 setup window and confirm that you want to quit the setup.

Step 4: Back at the Microsoft upgrading to Windows 8 with a product key page, click on the light blue "Install Windows 8.1" button this time.

Step 5: Launch the setup file (WindowsSetupBox.exe), which will begin downloading the Windows 8.1 ISO.

Windows 8.1 ISO downloading
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Step 6: Once the ISO finishes downloading, the installer will take several minutes to check the download and uncompress the install files. When you're prompted to choose an installation option, pick "Install by creating media."

Install Windows 8.1 by creating media
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Step 7: Decide whether you want the installer to create USB flash drive media, or save the ISO file.

Choose Windows 8.1 media to use
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

If you choose ISO, the ISO file (Windows.iso) will be saved to your PC and you'll be given the option to burn it to DVD. Once completed, you can actually go back and create the USB flash drive media as well. Just click on the "Install Windows" link on your Windows desktop. You'll be prompted to choose your installation option again. Pick "Install by creating media" again, insert a 4GB or larger USB flash drive, then choose the USB flash drive option. If you have any problems creating the USB flash media, you can still use the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool to create USB media with the Windows 8.1 ISO.

About the author

Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.

 

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