Windows 8.1 Update (code name Windows 8.1 Update 1) is now publicly available. In this post I discuss the download and installation options, summarized the most important features, and touch on a few other things IT pros should know about the update.

New features ^

You probably read about the new features that the update brings because many sites reviewed the leaked version weeks ago. Here is just a quick summary:

  • Windows Store apps now show in the taskbar and you can pin them like desktop apps. Preview works as well.
    2014-04-09_20-59-41
  • The taskbar now also shows in the Modern UI if you move your mouse to the bottom of the screen.
    Taskbar in Modern UI
  • A hint about new installed apps is now displayed on the Start Screen.
    New application installed
  • Tiles on the Start Screen have a context menu which you can access with a right click.
    Tiles with context menu
  • The Start Screen has a new Search and Power Button (I think your helpdesk will agree that the Power Button is a must have feature).
    Power Button
  • Windows Store apps now have title bar that allows you to minimize and close apps (another feature your helpdesk will love). You can access the title bar moving the mouse pointer to the top of the screen.
    Title bar
  • The context menu of WiFi networks is back. For some reason, Microsoft removed this feature in Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, it is still not possible to access the security settings (like the WiFi password) as it was possible in Windows 8.
    WiFi networks context menu
  • Microsoft lowered the hardware requirements for Windows 8.1: RAM 1GB (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit), Storage: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit). (Hmm, my phone has 3GB RAM and 96GB storage.)

Update: Check out these videos from Microsoft that explain the new features.

There are few other changes that didn’t make it in my list. Let me know if you found another new feature in Windows 8.1 Update you like.

Download ^

The update should now be all available in all countries via Windows Update. On a 64-bit machine, you can see it in the Windows Update app in the Control Panel as “Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB2919355).”

Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB2919355)

Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB2919355)

If you don’t want to download and install it through Windows Update (for instance on machines with no direct or indirect internet connection) you can also download it directly from Microsoft. There are several updates and as far as I can see most of them are just fixes. The big one with the new features is KB2919235. Some sites also list the KB2919442 update, but this was available previously available and is a prerequisite.

Windows 8.1 Update for 64-bit systems

Windows 8.1 Update for 32-bit systems

Windows Server 2012 R2 Update

For more details about downloading Windows 8.1 Update have a look at this My Digital Life article.

Installation ^

If you have to install the update several times manually on different machines you might want to use the batch script below which I copied from Michael Crump. I just added “/quiet /norestart”, so you don’t have to confirm every update. If you downloaded the updates with Internet Explorer you might want to get rid of the security warning with the Sysinternal tool Streams which removes the data streams that Internet Explorer added. I also removed the KB2919442 update. Add it if you didn’t install it yet.

Update: Just noticed that the original update files on MSDN and Download Center are different. I updated the batch script accordingly.

@ECHO OFF
ECHO: Installing KB2919355 
START /WAIT Windows8.1-KB2919355-x64.msu /quiet /norestart 
ECHO: Installing KB2932046 
START /WAIT Windows8.1-KB2932046-x64.msu /quiet /norestart
ECHO: Installing KB2932046 
START /WAIT Windows8.1-KB2934018.msu /quiet /norestart
ECHO: Installing KB2937592 
START /WAIT Windows8.1-KB2937592-x64.msu /quiet /norestart 
ECHO: Installing KB2938439 
START /WAIT Windows8.1-KB2938439-x64.msu /quiet /norestart 
ECHO: Install complete - press any key to reboot.
Pause shutdown.exe /r /t 00 
exit

Other useful info ^

  • The update causes some serious problems with WSUS server which use SSL and have not enabled TLS 1.2. Microsoft suspended the update to WSUS users.
  • Into Windows posted a guide how to uninstall the update.
  • Windows 8.1 Update will be mandatory in the sense that you won’t be able to update Windows 8.1 anymore if you don’t have this update installed. Note that this doesn’t apply to Windows 8. Windows 8.1 and the Update are not mandatory for Windows 8.
  • Microsoft also offers a new Windows ADK.
  • This blogs post by Ben Hunter explains how you can deploy the update in your network.

What do you think about the update? Is Windows 8.1 now an option for your network?

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