Monday, October 21, 2013

Updating to Windows 8.1: Part One: Download and Install

Windows 8.1 is here!  It will solve all your problems!  Or so many people may think.  There are, indeed, a lot of improvements, but don’t go into an upgrade to Windows 8.1 thinking it will suddenly be just like Windows used to be or that everything will be perfect.  Also, I just discovered that I’m lucky I updated when I did, because Microsoft has temporarily pulled the update for Windows RT.

One thing you can be sure of if you’re about to upgrade: give yourself plenty of time to do it.  I have a Lenovo Yoga, which doesn’t have the world’s most powerful processor by any means, and it runs Windows RT.  The file size for the RT upgrade is 2.11 GB, versus the 3.5 GB file for Windows 8.1 Pro.  I spent an hour and fifteen minutes updating.  But on a rather ancient Gateway I own that I switched over to Windows 8 Pro, it took nearly four hours to finish the upgrade to 8.1.  I would guess most people’s experience will be somewhere in between those two, but I wouldn’t make plans when you’re about to run the update. To give you some idea of the size of these files, Apple says most standard definition movies in the iTunes Store of approximately two hours are 1.5 GB and a high definition version of the same film would be 4 GB.

The Download and Install

I had heard the update would be waiting for me in the Store, but when I clicked on the Store App from the Start page, I couldn’t find the download.  I decided to try restarting my computer, and that was when I saw that I had an update.  However, that wasn’t the Windows 8.1 update—it was a Firmware update I had to install before 8.1 became available.  After the Firmware update and the restart, the 8.1 update was waiting in the Store as I had initially expected.
You really can’t miss the update in the store.
Once you’ve clicked on the update, settle in.  In fact, I made dinner.  There was nothing to do but watch the wheel turn as parts of the file downloaded and installed with the computer restarting all on its own several times.  It wasn’t until I was asked to agree to the License and sign in with my Microsoft account that I needed to do anything.  A Microsoft account is either a Hotmail or Outlook email.  To set up a Windows 8 computer initially requires a Microsoft account, so everything should be ready when you get to that step since this is an upgrade.
An example of the sitting and waiting screen.
Sign in screen.
There were a few other simple prompts to follow, including verifying your account for security purposes with an email, but if you don’t have access to a second computer while running the update, you can select the option to take care of this step later.
In Part 2, I’ll detail some of the differences between Windows 8 and 8.1.

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