As you know, on April 8th, the same day that Windows XP died, Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Update. While the update primarily appears to be geared to making the operating system easier to use with a mouse, it also includes some security and performance updates. Furthermore, Microsoft is requiring that you install this update in order to receive any future updates for Windows 8.1.

Unlike the update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, which came from the Windows Store, the Windows 8.1 Update comes from the Windows Update system. As such, chances are pretty good that your Windows 8.1 system already has a reference to Windows 8.1 Update in Windows Update system. In this article, I’ll walk you through the entire Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update procedure.

Creating a System Image Backup

As you may have heard, the Windows 8.1 Update is supposed to be a simple and safe procedure, and that has been my experience thus far. However, some people have encountered problems and so, just to be on the safe side, I recommend that you create a System Image Backup of your hard disk. That way, if anything out of the ordinary were to occur as you perform the update operation, you’ll be able to return to your current configuration using System Image Recovery, which you can access from a Recovery Drive or your Windows 8.1 installation DVD.

As I described in a previous article, tracking down the System Image Backup tool in Windows 8.1 can be tricky, because Microsoft renamed and moved its location in the 8.1 version. So, let me provide you with brief overview of the procedure here.

To begin, use the [Windows] + [W] keystroke to access the Search Settings page. Then, type File History in the text box, and click File History in the results panel (Figure A).

Figure A

Accessing the File History from the Search Settings page is easy.

In a moment, you’ll see the File History user interface. Select the System Image Backup command on the bottom left to launch the creation tool. On the first screen, you’ll need to choose where you are going to save the backup. For example, you can create the backup on a set of DVD discs (Figure B).

Figure B

You can create the system image on a set of DVD discs.

When you click Next, you’ll be prompted to confirm your backup settings. When you’re ready, just click the Start backup button, and Windows will begin preparing for the operation. As it does, you’ll be prompted to label and insert the first DVD disc (Figure C).

Figure C

When you click the Start backup button, you’ll be prompted to insert a blank DVD disc.

Once you insert the blank disc, you’ll be prompted to format it before the backup actually begins. Then, once the backup operation gets under way, you’ll see progress indicators that let you know the status of the operation. When the System Image creation procedure is complete, you’ll be prompted to create a System Repair disc. However, as you may remember, a System Repair disc is the same as the Recovery Drive that you probably already created. So, you can just click No, and you’ll be notified that the backup completed successfully.

Downloading the update

Downloading the update is a straightforward operation and can be done from the Control Panel version of Windows Update or from Modern UI Update and recovery screen. We’ll use the latter here.

To begin, use the [Windows] + [W] keystroke to access the Search Settings page. Then, type Windows Update Settings in the text box, and select it in the results panel (Figure D).

Figure D

Use the Search Settings to access the from Modern UI Update and recovery screen.

As soon as you do, you’ll see the Update and recovery screen with Windows Update menu selected. To continue, select View details. You should then see the Windows 8.1 Update for your system selected on the View details screen (Figure E).

Figure E

If you check the update’s details, you’ll discover a new twist in Microsoft’s update policy.

As you can see, I selected the Details link to view more information about the Windows 8.1 Update. Notice the sentence that I’ve highlighted:

“You must install Windows 8.1 Update to ensure that your computer can continue to receive future Windows Updates, including security updates.”

This is a new twist in Microsoft’s update policy that I’ll investigate in more detail in a separate article.

To continue with the update operation, click the Install button. When you do, Windows Update will download the updates, perform the initial installation, and then prompt you to restart your system (Figure F). When you’re ready to continue, just click the Restart now button.

Figure F

The download process can take a while, depending on your internet connection speed.

Installing the update

Once the system restarts, the first stage of the Windows 8.1 Update setup procedure will commence. You’ll first see a message in the middle of the screen that indicates that Windows is Restarting. When Windows restarts, you’ll momentarily see a screen titled Getting Ready followed by some other information. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! Seriously, the screen displayed so quickly and then was gone that I wasn’t able to snap a picture of it.

Next, you’ll see a screen that indicates that Windows is working on updates and warns you not to turn off your computer (Figure G).

Figure G

The installation procedure keeps you apprised of the progress.

Once this process is complete, your PC will reboot, and you’ll see a screen similar to the one that I encountered on my Dell laptop (Figure H). This part of the procedure will only take a few moments.

Figure H

When your PC reboots, you’ll see a screen similar to this one for a few moments.

When Windows restarts, you’ll again see a screen that indicates that Windows is working on updates, and it will warn you not to turn off your computer. When the counter reaches 100%, you’ll immediately see the Sign in screen. When you sign in, the desktop will appear, and you’ll immediately notice the Windows Store icon is pinned to the taskbar (Figure I).

Figure I

The Windows Store icon is pinned to the taskbar.

What’s your take?

In the coming weeks, I’ll be covering the new features in the Windows 8.1 Update in detail. In the meantime, have you installed the Windows 8.1 Update? If so, tell us about your experience. Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.