Microsoft compare

Screenshots: New Windows 8.1 features

Windows Store

This gallery is also available as a TechRepublic article.

Note: After you install Windows 8.1, you will be asked to sign in to a Microsoft Live account. There will be no apparent way to move past that screen if your intention is to only have a local account. Here is the trick: Click the Create New Account link and then at the bottom of that next screen you will see a link that will let you cancel the process. You will then login using your local account.

As of October 17, 2013, Microsoft Windows 8.1 is available as a downloadable update for Windows 8 users. The retail box version of the operating system hit the market on October 18, 2013. For those of us using Windows 8, the new features and subtle changes of 8.1 are very welcome. I can say unequivocally, if you have a computer running Windows 8, you want to upgrade to 8.1.

Before you begin your download

I know you will be tempted to start your Windows 8.1 download right away, but there are few things to do in preparation before you begin the process:

  • Make sure you have updated your copy of Windows 8 by running Windows Update.
  • Make sure you are logged in as the account administrator.
  • Make sure you have allocated a couple of hours to the project - it will likely take less time than that, but you can never be sure.
  • Just to be safe, you might have you activation code for Windows 8 close by.

Downloading

If you have a retail version of Windows 8, you can update to 8.1 by going to the Store from the Start Screen - the first item you should see is a large Windows 8.1 download icon (Figure A).

Credit: Images by Mark Kaelin for TechRepublic

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

21 comments
chabron07
chabron07

Be careful to upgrade your windows 8 to windows 8.1! First of all, Microsoft did not have a path or a way to uninstall the 8.1 There are numerous problems with the update in which you can find in google. Personally, after I did the upgrade, it would not recognized the wireless network. Even though, Device Manager recognized the Wireless network card, it would not configure or recognize the wireless network. The solution was to replace my old wireless network adapter with a newer one.

Also, the Windows 8.1 upgrade would not create a restore point. Therefore, before you decide to do the upgrade, create a restore point and backup your important data. Some people had to reinstall the Windows 8 again for some reason. Definitively, Microsoft  windows team are thinking backward...

smann20
smann20

Get a copy of Start8 from Stardock.  Adds window 7 style start button and menu.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

Wow, just wow. I had windows 8.1 loaded in about 5 to 10 minutes without doing any more than clicking the install button. I didn't turn off anything or change any settings. It just took a few minutes to download and then it installed and rebooted twice and was done.

sebregondi
sebregondi

And if you are from a non-English country, beware: The upgrade-software switches your local keyboard to English without warning!

When you need to enter your Microsoft account password make sure that you switch back to your local keyboard before. Otherwise Microsoft gives you a very ugly surprise: the keyboard now doesn't read your password correctly. If you shutdown your PC and reboot, your account profile will be damaged, and you need to install Windows 8 from scratch again with all ugrades and all applications before you can install Win8.1.

lkeller
lkeller

I don't understand the animosity about Windows 8.  Having a similar interface across devices makes sense.  And it doesn't take that much effort to select the desktop tile, especially given that Windows 8 boots in 30 or so seconds.

I seldom used the start button as most programs I used were pinned to the taskbar.  I do the same in Windows 8.  Nice to have a music app to play background music while working on Windows rather than run a full-blown media program.  I don't see why you need to login to XBox to  use it but apparently the app is shared with XBox.

Most devices don't protect privacy at all.  In fact, some of the most desirable apps on my Razr smart phone require location provided.  Similarly, all the data mining that goes on makes privacy depend upon 3rd party behavior after the data is collected.  I don't like that but I don't see changes as probable.

The best news is that we are passed Vista!  Still not AmigaOS but Windows 8 does work well.

amj2010
amj2010

A word of warning before you upgrade from W8 to W8.1

Go first to your Taskmanager and turn off all programs that can hinder the progress of your update

Most of the time they are backup settings schedulers and other ones

It takes quite a while before you can use your brand new w8.1, so have lots of patience

success

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Note: After you install Windows 8.1, you will be asked to sign in to a Microsoft Live account. There will be no apparent way to move past that screen if your intention is to only have a local account. Here is the trick: Click the Create New Account link and then at the bottom of that next screen you will see a link that will let you cancel the process. You will then login using your local account.

clr36
clr36

MS approach to user accounts in win 8 is plain stupid. I started out with a normal non associated account and then went to down load the Citrix receiver from the app store. Now my personal MS account is linked to a test business PC and it wiped out the non linked account and converted it over to a MS account. Now if I lock my pc and come back I don't log in with my Novell user account I have to unlock it with my private MS account at work.  What were they thinking.    

Kieron Seymour-Howell
Kieron Seymour-Howell

I hope that people read and understand some of the severe privacy and ownership concerns that Windows 8 and 8.1 bring to your computer.   With the installation of Windows 8.1, it is possible for Microsoft to potentially uninstall apps and software from your computer without your permission (though you probably agreed to it somewhere in the EULA)

One of the most annoying and frustrating aspects are the dual accounts.  The assumption that you have, or need, an X-box Live account to use your computer online is annoying.  Making you sign out of one and into the other makes no sense.  You should have a local, or roaming account, and then long into, and out of, your online Microsoft account as needed; not the either/or system they have devised.  I actually think that is a privacy issue and I wonder how much market research is behind this stupid idea.

The Start Screen is just a glorified Start Menu.  Once you get used to that, then it is not too difficult to use.  The search function seems to work well, but you will have to tinker with the libraries and such to find everything if you have a lot of networked and external drives.  This is just another shell tacked into an spate of alternate shells we already had.  Only now there is shell-specific apps that do not even interact properly with the real desktop.  This reminds me of running emulators or a limited VM on any computer.

The Apps, are pretty much useless.  They are all far too simple and extremely dumbed down versions which would probably be acceptable on a phone, but completely unacceptable on a business desktop or workstation.  I will concede that the games are very well done.  So, if games are your priority, then Windows 8 is probably fine for you.

The only acceptable app is Internet Explorer, and even then it is useless for someone who needs it for more than the most rudimentary browsing.

The Windows RT version of the File Explorer is just pathetic.  I actually thought it was a joke the first time I saw it and wondered where the real app was...  If you only have the RT version of Windows, unless you install a VNC client and remote connect to a "real" computer, don't expect to get much work done.  I can service, and accept the Pro versions of Windows 8, but the RT version and the apps are just toys, not for people who want to actually accomplish work and get things done above the most basic tasks.

The font rendering in Windows 8 is amazing.  The way the Windows 8/8.1 renders fonts is beautiful.  I actually think it has surpassed what Apple has done, and that is saying a lot.  However, the flat look of themes makes it easy to lose windows and everything just runs together in a confusing way that stresses the eyes.

Bottom line:  Bring back Windows 7 UI, and make Windows RT a plugin, or addon like Media Centre was.  Oh, and get rid of all the shadowing and zipped backups that store copies of everything fifty times over.  Honestly Microsoft has all this monitoring and spying and logging which does almost NOTHING to help you recover a working system in the case of a complete system failure.  Technology that mainly allows others to come after you and list everything you have done.  Awesome tool for hackers and spies to use if they get their hands on a business laptop.  Great work guys in helping criminals and reducing privacy to a fantasy.


woomera
woomera

Regardless of what anyone says, those clunky ugly square tiles (whatever size) make it look like the dogs breakfast.  lol
Seriously I have removed every tile that needs a Microsoft email account to log in and download/use, IF I have to ever use Win 8 all program files installed will have a shortcut on the desktop also Win 8 also uses the same path for quick launch as Win 7 so a lot of my personal most used programs would have a shortcut there.

carlsf
carlsf

Sorry just spent 4 hours downloading 8.1 upgrade and looking at the results.

There is NO start button or Start Menu like in WIN7.

This makes it WIN8 still a PIG.

They have just lost 115 users to WIN7 if we can get it or Linux (ZORIN).

And we will NOT be a MS client/customer ever again GOOD BYE Microsoft.


techietubby
techietubby

I will never understand why they removed the Start-buton in the first-place as the so called "modern" interface is as about as much good as "an ashtray on a motorbike!" I struggled with it for a day or so then just download Start8 and disabled everything so it looked as much like 7 as possible. I just miss the gadgets as they were really useful!

To date I have NEVER found an APP that is remotely useful for my business and so don't even bother with the [CR]APP-Store anymore. Take Skype for instance, I don't want to link my Skype accounts to my MS one as I share the laptop...

I even looked into a touch-screen and quickly discovered that if you use a desktop you need variable length arms and/or a full arm rest, and if you use a touchscreen laptop you need to invest in a truck load of screen-wipes so you can still see the display through the smudges.

I hope Windows 8.1 hopes to turn the tide for M$, but I really doubt it.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@Kieron Seymour-Howell: All in all, a pretty well-reasoned arguments, though I'm forced to disagree with at least one off the bat.

For whatever reason, you seem to think Windows RT is supposed to be an equivalent to the full-blown Windows. It's not. It's supposed to give you the minimum you need to work as a fully mobile device--which simply doesn't need and really can't support desktop functions without setting it down. When you're walking the floor of your plant you can't be trying to type a full document. You've got the ability to hand-write notes and perhaps take pictures to support those tasks just like an electronic clipboard so that when you get back to your desk you can open those files in the desktop app to make your reports.

Nor should you be trying to use RT at the desktop. It's simply not enough machine for the task. Tablets are intended to be supplemental devices, not all purpose ones. Learn how to use it within its capabilities and it will be a productive tool for your work.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@woomera: If you don't like it, buy a Mac. Same steep learning curve to change how you used to do things, but nowhere near as likely to keep putting out such glaring disruptions to productivity with every second upgrade.

smann20
smann20

@carlsf Get a copy of Start8 from Stardock.  Has Windows 7 start button and menu.

Lemuelpn
Lemuelpn

@carlsf


Stupid! Pointless argument, why can you not just press your windows key on your keyboard?


EarlGunner
EarlGunner

@carlsf Hover your mouse over the bottom left hand corner, the start will appear, then right click it.

blarman
blarman

@Vulpinemac Or you can just stay with Windows 7 and speak with your wallet.  Tell Microsoft you're not interested in the crap called Windows 8.

I've tried Windows 8 and as a desktop OS it bombs.  It takes me longer to get anything done.  I don't like the charms - they're not charming - and having to move my mouse to the corner to get to things is REALLY stupid when you're on a 20"+ screen at 1600x1200 dpi!

And the tiles are just ridiculous.  Infantile.  Microsoft needs to go back to allowing simple icons - they are way more professional looking.

 Seriously, the OS is just supposed to be there to help you access your apps and get things done.  In this regard, Windows 8 is a major regression.  What good is Search when I'm supposed to use gestures rather than the keyboard?  What good are all those tiles if I'm supposed to use a mouse?  By FAR the biggest fail in Windows 8 is trying to meld the desktop and mobile paradigms.  They are completely different and Microsoft continues to ignore this.  Note to Microsoft: Go back to Windows 7 and start there on Windows 9.  Use Windows 8 solely for your mobile devices.  Stop acting as if you are the one that gets to determine how users need to use a computer.

carlsf
carlsf

@EarlGunner @carlsf WHY should I do that I just wanted the OLD WIN7 start button and menu system.

I dont WANT to have to learn again, what I have done for years (20)

If Microsoft thinks this is progression then forget me and 115  users.

Why should I have to learn HOW to use windows again, JUST to please Microsoft.

Not to mention purchase new applications that have worked for years, at another addditional COST, and in most cases the developers have or are NOT going to port across.

OPS oops, Microsoft forgot they are dependant on first Hardware manufactures and secondly on the Software developers.