The Windows 8.1 update is available from the Windows Store.
Well, fortunately some enterprising folks have discovered a way to trick the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site into allowing you to download a Windows 8.1 ISO using a Windows 8 product key. While this really cool trick has been published on multiple sites on the Web, not all of these sites give the full set of steps that you need to perform the operation. For instance, many of the sites direct you to the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site as the first step, but they do not mention that in order for this trick to work, to be prompted for the product key right away, you have to access the site from a computer running Windows 7.
So, in this article, I'll show you the complete procedure for downloading a Windows 8.1 ISO using a Windows 8 product key.
This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.
Note: Even though the end result of this trick is have a Windows 8.1 DVD, keep in mind that this DVD can only be used to perform a Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 upgrade. You cannot use it to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1.
What you'll need
Before you get started, you'll need to have access to several things. First you'll need your Windows 8 Product Key and it has to be from a retail version of the product. In other words, if you received a computer with Windows 8 preinstalled, then you have an OEM Product Key and you cannot use that type of key for this procedure.
So if you either purchased a Windows 8 DVD at your local computer store or downloaded Windows 8 from Microsoft, then you're all set to go.
As I mentioned, you'll need to perform this trick from a Windows 7 system. As you seek out a Windows 7 system to use, be sure that it is has the same processor type as you are using on the Windows 8 system that you want to upgrade to Windows 8.1. (By processor type, I mean 32-bit vs. 64-bit.) The reason for this is that the processor type in the system that you use to download Windows 8.1, will determine the version of Windows 8.1 that you'll end up with.
For example, if your Windows 8 system is running a 64-bit processor, then you'll want to use a Windows 7 system with a 64-bit processor. You'll then end up with a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1.
Still with me? Okay, then let's get started.
Once you have located a proper Windows 7 system, fire up your Web browser of choice and point it to the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site. When you arrive, you'll find that the page contains links to download both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, as shown in Figure B. Unfortunately, you cannot just click the Windows 8.1 download button unless you have a Windows 8.1 Product Key from a retail version of the product. So, you'll have to use the following technique.
The Upgrade Windows with only a product key site has links to download both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
To begin, click the Install Windows 8 button. When you do, you'll be successively prompted by the two Security Warning dialog boxes shown in Figure C. You'll click Run in both instances.
You click Run in both of these Security Warning dialog boxes.
You'll then see the first screen in the Windows 8 Setup wizard, which prompts you for a Product Key. At this point, enter your Windows 8 product key and wait for it to be verified, as shown in Figure D.
Wait for your Windows 8 product key to be verified.
To continue, click Next. The next screen in the Windows 8 Setup wizard, will identify the edition of Windows 8, as shown in Figure E.
You'll see the Windows 8 edition connected with your download.
Editor's Note: Here is the trick part.
When you click Next, the Windows 8 download will begin. As soon as it passes the 1% mark, click the close button in the upper right corner of the screen. When you do, you'll be prompted to confirm that you want to quit the download operation, as shown in Figure F. To continue, click Yes.
Click the close button to abort the download.
Downloading the Windows 8.1 ISO
When you abort the Windows 8 download operation, you'll return to the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site. At this point, click the Install Windows 8.1 button. When you do, you'll see two Security Warning dialog boxes similar to the ones shown earlier and will click Run in both instances. You'll then see the Windows 8.1 Setup windows and the download will begin, as shown in Figure G.
The Windows 8.1 download will begin as soon as you click Run in the last Security Warning dialog box.
As the operation nears completion, the download will be checked and the files made ready, as shown in Figure H.
As the download completes it will be checked and the files made ready.
Once the download is complete, checked, and the files are ready, the Setup wizard will prompt you to choose how you want to install Windows 8.1. At this point, you'll select the Install by creating media option, and click Next. You'll then want to select the ISO File option. These two steps are illustrated in Figure I.
You'll want to select the ISO file option.
I recommend that you select the ISO File option even if you plan to use a USB Flash Drive to actually install Windows 8.1 on your system. Creating an ISO file will provide you the best result because it will allow you to burn a DVD, which will give you a backup, and because Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have the capability to natively mount an ISO file, you'll be able to open the ISO and copy the files it contains to an appropriately sized USB Flash Drive.
After specifying a location on your hard disk to create the ISO file, the Windows 8.1 Setup wizard will create the ISO file, remind you of the Product key, and then prompt you to Open the DVD burner. These steps are illustrated in Figure J.
After the ISO file is created, select Open DVD burner.
Burn the ISO to DVD
Burning the ISO to DVD in Windows 7 is an easy procedure with the built-in Windows Disc Image Burner. When you see the Windows Disc Image Burner window, insert a DVD disc, and select the Verify disc after burning check box. Then click the Burn button. The burn operation will take a few minutes to complete. These steps are illustrated in Figure K.
Windows 7's Windows Disc Image Burner makes it easy to convert the ISO file to DVD.
What's your take?
Do you have two or more Windows 8 systems that you want to upgrade to Windows 8.1? If so, will you use this technique to create a Windows 8.1 DVD? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.