Chances are good that you have been to the Windows Store
recently and have seen the Windows 8.1 download screen, shown in Figure A.
If you read Microsoft’s detailed
instructions and then downloaded the update, then you know that this
operation performs what is essentially an in-place upgrade. In other words you
download and run the update just like you would a Service Pack from Windows
Update and there is no opportunity to download an ISO or order a DVD. If you
have just one Windows 8 system, then this upgrade procedure is no problem at
all. But what if you have two or more Windows 8 systems? Do you really want to
sit and wait while the online update runs multiple times? I didn’t think so.
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
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
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
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
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.