Upgrade to Windows 8.1


    If your PC is currently runningWindows8orWindowsRT, it's free to update toWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1. And unlike previous updates toWindows, you'll get this update from theWindowsStore.

    1. Before you begin

    The system requirementsforWindows8.1andWindowsRT8.1are nearly the same as the requirements forWindows8. If your PC is already runningWindows8(orWindowsRT), in most cases, you can get the free update toWindows8.1(orWindowsRT8.1).

    But before you begin, here are some things to keep in mind.

    • Your files, desktop apps, user accounts, and settings come with you.Windows8.1andWindowsRT8.1come with some new built-in apps, and it will update or replace some of your existing built-in apps. Your existingWindowsStore apps don't come with you, but once the update is complete, you can reinstall all of these apps at once—or just the ones you want. For more info, see theReinstall yourWindowsStore appssection of this page.

    • We'll check your desktop apps and devices for you. As part of the update, we check your current desktop apps and connected devices, and let you know what you'll need to do to get them ready for the update, or to get them working again after the update. In most cases, you won't need to do anything—most desktop apps, devices (like printers), and network connections will work normally after the update. If you have particular desktop apps or devices you're concerned about, you can check their compatibility in the Windows Compatibility Center.

    • Consider using aMicrosoftaccount to sign in to your PC. If you already use aMicrosoftaccount to sign in toWindows8orWindowsRT, you’ll use that same account to sign in toWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1.

      If you don’t, we recommend that you start using aMicrosoftaccount inWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1. Simply put, it’s the glue that holds together so many useful features of the newWindows: the ability to download apps from the Store, automatic syncing of your settings and documents between your PCs, backing up your photos to the cloud so you can get to them from anywhere, and seeing all your contacts from multiple email and social networking accounts together in the People and Mail apps.

      If you already have an account you use withOutlook.com,XboxLIVE,WindowsPhone, orSkype, then you already have aMicrosoftaccount.

    • You can keep working while the update is installing. Download and installation times vary from about 30 minutes to several hours, depending on your Internet connection speed, and the speed and configuration of your PC, but you can still use your PC while the update is installing in the background. During this time, if you decide to leave your PC unattended, be sure to save your work and close any apps you have open first, in case your PC needs to restart automatically while you’re away. After it restarts, you won't be able to use your PC for a little while (from about 20 minutes to an hour), while the updates are being applied. After that phase is complete, Windows will walk you through choosing a few basic settings and thenWindowswill finish applying any final updates that are needed.

    2. Prepare your PC

    There are a few things you should do before you start installing.

    1. Back up your files. Although your files and apps come with you when you update toWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1, it's a good idea to make sure that your files are backed up first.

    2. Plug in your laptop or tablet. It's important to keep your PC plugged in throughout the update process, because if you lose power before it's done, the update might not install properly.

    3. Connect to the Internet. It's not required, but we recommend that you stay connected until the update is done. If you don't, you’ll need to connect again to finish setting up later, and setup will take longer.

    4. Get the latest critical and important updates.There are some updates you might need before you can installWindows8.1. In most cases, the latest updates will be installed automatically usingWindowsUpdate. But if you don’t have automatic updates turned on and you need to check for updates manually, or if you'd like to check to see when the latest updates were installed, you can do this fromWindowsUpdate.

    3. Get the free update

    Ready? Now you can download the free update from theWindowsStore.

    1. Go to the Start screen, and tap or click the Store tile.

      Store tile on Start
      Store tile on the Start screen
    2. In the Store, tap or click theWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1update. if you don't see the update on the Store home screen, seeWhy can't I find the update in the Store?

    3. Tap or clickDownload.

    4. The update will download and install in the background while you use your PC to do other things. The installer will check to make sure you have enough disk space, that your apps and devices will work withWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1, and that you have all the required updates.

      In some cases, the installer might find something you need to take care of before you can continue installing the update. If so, you'll see a message telling you what you need to do.


      • If the installation is interrupted for any reason, you can restart the update from where you left off by going back to the Store and downloading the update again.

    4. Restart

    After the update is downloaded and the first phase of the installation is complete (which could take between 15 minutes and a few hours, depending on your system and your connection speed), you'll see a message telling you that your PC needs to restart. It will give you 15 minutes to finish what you’re working on, save your work, and close your apps, and then it will restart your PC for you. Or you can restart it yourself.

    Message warning of restart
    Message warning of restart
    • If you leave your PC before it's ready to restart, be sure to save your work and close any desktop apps you're using to make sure you don't lose anything when it restarts automatically. Your PC might need to restart more than once, depending on how it’s set up, and whether additional updates are needed.

    • Restarting will take longer than usual—from 20 minutes to about an hour—while the update is applied. During this time, you won't be able to use your PC.

    5. Choose your settings

    License terms

    After your PC finishes restarting, you'll be presented with theMicrosoftsoftware license terms. Review the terms, and then tap or clickI acceptto continue. If you don't accept the terms, this cancels the installation ofWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1, and your PC will roll back toWindows8orWindowsRT.

    Express settings

    You'll see a list of recommended settings, called express settings. To accept these settings and continue, tap or clickUse express settings. You can change any of these settings later, after you finish setting up. If you'd like to change some of these settings now, tap or clickCustomize.

    Express settings shown in setup
    Express settings shown during setup

    For more info, tap or clickLearn more about express settings. To learn about how these settings affect your privacy, tap or clickPrivacy statement.

    Sign in

    Next, you'll be asked to sign in.

    Signing in during setup
    Signing in with aMicrosoftaccount

    If you already use aMicrosoftaccount to sign in toWindows8orWindowsRT, your account name will be filled in for you. If you previously used a local account for this, you'll need to sign in with your local account first, and then we'll ask you to set up aMicrosoftaccount, which you can use to sign in to your PC after the update.

    If you already have a Microsoft account

    1. Enter yourMicrosoftaccount email address, if needed, and your password.

    2. Microsoft will send a security code to the alternate email address or phone number you've set up for this account, and you'll need to enter that code to verify that you're the owner of the account. This helps us protect your account and devices when you access sensitive info. If you don't have alternate contact info set up for the account yet, you'll be asked to provide it now.


      • If you signed in to your PC using aMicrosoftaccount before you installedWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1, then you might not need to enter a security code.

    To create a new Microsoft account

    1. ChooseCreate a new account.

    2. Next, you'll be asked to choose an email address you'd like to use as aMicrosoftaccount. This can be any email address you use, and isn't limited to addresses that come fromMicrosoft. Enter the email address that you use the most. We'll use it to set up the Mail and People apps for you with email and contacts that you already use every day.

    3. Enter the password you'd like to use, and fill in the rest of the info, including your first name, last name, and your country or region.

    4. Next, you'll also be asked to provide an alternate email address or phone number where we can reach you by email, phone, or text message (SMS). This helps us protect your account and devices whenever you access sensitive info using this account. After you enter this info, we'll send a message to you containing a security code, and you'll need to enter that code to verify that you're the owner of the account.

    To keep using a local account

    SkyDrivecloud storage

    If this is your first time setting up a PC withWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1, you'll see the newSkyDriveoptions.

    If you already have another PC runningWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1, and you chose to sync settings on that PC, then yourSkyDrivesettings will also sync from your existing PC to this one, and you might not see this screen.

    SkyDrive options during setup
    SkyDriveoptions during setup

    If you clickNexton this screen, your PC will use these defaultSkyDrivesettings:

    • Photos you take with this PC are saved to your camera roll folder on this PC, and a smaller copy of each photo is automatically backed up to yourSkyDrive.

    • When you create a new document, the default save location isSkyDrive. But you can always choose to save individual documents locally or on another drive.

    • Windowswill save a backup copy of your PC settings toSkyDrive. If something ever happens to your PC and you need to replace it, your settings are saved in the cloud and you can transfer them to a new PC instantly.

    You can change any of these settings later in PC settings. If you'd prefer to turn off all of these settings now, tap or clickTurn off theseSkyDrivesettings.

    Final updates

    BecauseWindowsis always being updated, it’s possible that critical updates have become available sinceWindows8.1andWindowsRT8.1were finalized.Windowschecks for these critical updates when you finish setting upWindows8.1orWindowsRT8.1for the first time, and if it finds any, it will download them automatically. Downloading and installing these updates might take a few minutes, depending on the updates you need. Your PC might also need to restart one or more times to complete the updates.

    6. Welcome to the newWindows

    The new Start screen will appear.

    Start screen
    The new Start screen

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