Windows 8.1 Update is the second major update to the Windows 8 operating system.
This update, previously referred to as Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows 8 Spring Update, is free for all Windows 8 owners. If you're running Windows 8,1, you must install Windows 8.1 Update to continue receiving patches after April 8, 2014.
Windows 8.1 Update Release Date
Windows 8.1 Update was first made publicly available on April 8, 2014 and is currently the most recent major update to Windows 8.
The next major update to Windows 8, which will likely be called Windows 8.1 Update 2 or Windows 8.2, is scheduled for August, 2014.
Download Windows 8.1 Update
To upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update for free, visit Windows Update and apply the update named Windows 8.1 Update (KB2919355) or Windows 8.1 Update for x64-based Systems (KB2919355).
Tip: If you don't see any Windows 8 Update related updates in Windows Update, check to make sure that KB2919442, first available in March 2014, is installed first. If it wasn't, you should see it there in the list of available updates in Windows Update.
While more complicated, you also have the option of upgrading manually from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update right now:
- Windows 8.1 Update (KB2919355) for 64-bit Windows 8.1
- Windows 8.1 Update (KB2919355) for 32-bit Windows 8.1
Note: The Windows 8.1 Update actually consists of 5 individual updates. Select them all after clicking the Download button. First install KB2919442 if you haven't already, followed by the ones you just downloaded, in this order exactly: KB2919355, KB2932046, KB2937592, KB2938439, and then KB2934018.
Not sure which download to pick? See How To Tell if You Have Windows 8.1 64-bit or 32-bit for help.
If you haven't yet updated to Windows 8.1, you'll need to do that first via the Windows Store. See my How to Update to Windows 8.1 tutorial for more help. Once that's complete, update to Windows 8.1 Update via Windows Update.
Important: Windows 8.1 Update is not the entire operating system, only a collection of updates to the operating system. If you don't currently have Windows 8 or 8.1, you can purchase a new copy of Windows (the entire operating system, not just the update) direct from Microsoft: Buy Windows 8.1 Pro and Buy Windows 8.1 (standard). You have the option of a downloadable ISO file or a boxed copy you'll receive in the mail.
If you're looking to download a standalone copy of Windows 8.1 but aren't happy with your options direct from Microsoft, see Where Can I Download Windows 8.1? for some further discussion.
I also answer a lot of questions about installing Windows 8 in my Installing Windows 8 FAQ.
Windows 8.1 Update Changes
A number of new interface changes were introduced in Windows 8.1 Update.
Below are some changes to Windows 8 that you might notice:
- Adds power and search buttons to the Start screen (on some devices)
- Booting directly to the Desktop is now the default setting on new installations on non-touch devices
- Windows Store apps can be pinned to the Desktop taskbar, just like traditional programs
- Taskbar is available anywhere the mouse is
- Title bar, including close and minimize buttons, are available on Windows Store apps
- Right-click menu is available for Windows Store apps pinned on the Start screen
- Windows Store app is pinned by default to the taskbar
- A "new apps installed" notice on the Start screen after installing new apps
More About Windows 8.1 Update
While all of my Windows 8 tutorials were written for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8.1 Update, the following ones may be particularly useful if you're new to Windows 8 as of Windows 8.1 Update:
- How To Clean Install Windows 8.1
- How To Install Windows 8.1 From a USB Device
- How To Open Command Prompt in Windows 8.1
- How To Open Control Panel in Windows 8.1
You can find all of my Windows 8 and 8.1 tutorials on my Windows 8 How-To's, Tutorials, and Walkthroughs page.
Be sure to also check out About.com's Windows site for more on Windows 8 in general.