How Windows 8.1 upgrades will get to you

Microsoft is sharing more on how existing Windows 8 and Windows RT users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1 "Blue" preview and final.

Windows 8.1 start screen
Microsoft

With the public preview builds of Windows 8.1 due out later this month, a number of users are wondering how Microsoft plans to handle the upgrade.

At TechEd North America, officials shared some details on that topic in a session entitled "Windows RT in the Enterprise."

Microsoft officials have said previously that the company plans to deliver the public preview of Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," via the Windows Store on June 26.

Microsoft Senior Product Marketing Manager Michael Niehaus reiterated that message in the RT in the Enterprise session on Tuesday. When the 8.1 preview is available, Windows 8 and Windows RT users will receive a Windows Update notification. That update will trigger the new bits to show up in the Windows Store, where potential testers will be able to read the description and choose whether or not to install.

Once the final versions of Windows 8.1 are available, after their release to manufacturing, those who have downloaded the preview will get the same Windows Update plus Windows Store notification. While their data and accounts will be preserved if and when they choose to install the free, final 8.1 release, all their apps must be reinstalled, Niehaus said.

Even if testers opt instead to roll their devices back to Windows 8 after installing the preview bits, they still will have to reinstall their apps once they move to the RTM version of Windows 8.1.

Windows 8 users who do not install the preview build and opt instead to go straight from Windows 8/Windows RT to Windows 8.1 will not have to reinstall their apps. All settings, data and apps will carry over, a spokesperson said when I asked. Users will be able to decide when and if they want to move from Windows 8 and Windows RT to the 8.1 versions, officials stressed.

Niehaus characterized the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade as "a little better" than how Microsoft handled the Windows 8 test build to RTM upgrade. A Microsoft spokesperson said the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade would be "comparable" to the Windows 7 to Windows 8 upgrade, in terms of how the upgrade dealt with user settings, data and apps.

Niehaus also told session attendees that Microsoft expects to have a reduced footprint size for Windows 8.1 as compared to Windows 8. He said the team has been working on removing old components, temporary files and improving NTFS compression to free up more space on users' machines. He noted that 4 GB of free space will be needed to install the Windows 8.1 preview builds. And he said that installation of Windows 8.1 will not result in the replacement of the recovery partition in Windows 8.

"If you deleted it, [8.1] won't replace it," Niehaus said.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline "Microsoft goes public with Windows 8.1 upgrade policies.

About the author

    Mary Jo Foley has been a tech journalist for almost 30 years. She is editor of ZDNet's "All About Microsoft" blog. She authored "Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era" and co-hosts the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT Network.

     

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