Microsoft: Windows 8.1 is an update, not a service pack

Windows 8.1 is more substantial than a traditional update and Microsoft wanted to make it very easy for customers to consume as well which is why it will be delivered through the Windows Store.  It's important to note that when describing the update, she did not say that it was a service pack, but an update, which ties into the belief that Microsoft is done with the traditional service packs and will move to more prominent releases like Windows 8.1.

Reller stopped short of saying that we will see Windows 8.2 and beyond but wanted to hit home that Windows 8.1 is a large update for the platform and that it will bring many enhancements to the end user. We would have loved to have heard that we would see Windows 8.2 next year but we will be content to know that Windows 8.1 will be free and a public preview will be released on June 26th.

Not long after the release of Windows 8 we started hearing rumors about the rapid release cadence that Microsoft was moving towards with many of its major platforms including Windows. Seeing that Windows 8.1 is the first step in the process, we will be quite curious how long it takes Microsoft to move to the next phase of the Windows 8 release cycle.

Source: JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference

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My thing is windows 8 should have never been released the way it is . This 8.1 crap should have been day 1 . Microsoft needs to take its time and learn how to build a consistent UI and then learn how to polish that ui . They messed up huge with 8 and I'm not touching the next Xbox for a good year after release I just do not trust Microsoft anymore . To many let downs over the past few years.

I don't care what you call it (an update or a service pack, even though the latter would be factually inaccurate).
It is what it is: a very good thing.

FalseAgent said,
The funny thing is that Windows Blue 8.1 is exactly what Apple makes their Mac users pay for with every "new" OS release.

True! Poor things - they have almost forgotten the days of yore when the current version of their OS was anything other than 10. ;-)

Timble said,

True! Poor things - they have almost forgotten the days of yore when the current version of their OS was anything other than 10. ;-)


My sister actually paid for her upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard and was really really disappointed, she felt ripped off. I helped her with the upgrade, and the so-called 'new' OS that I installed felt more like a service pack that we usually get for free in the Windows world.

I'd say upgrading from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion feels more like an upgrade. The sad thing is, quite a number of Macs that were sold with Snow Leopard would take a huge performance hit by upgrading to Mountain Lion, making it an unattractive upgrade...Mountain Lion is really kinda bloated.

But there are some good things still, alot of Mac users wouldn't have to face all the changes that Windows is making (i.e. Metro). Great for the short term, not very good for the long term, especially if the Mac platform is stagnating other than the usual specs bumps...kinda like how smartphones are in 2013.

FalseAgent said,

My sister actually paid for her upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard and was really really disappointed, she felt ripped off. I helped her with the upgrade, and the so-called 'new' OS that I installed felt more like a service pack that we usually get for free in the Windows world.

I'd say upgrading from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion feels more like an upgrade. The sad thing is, quite a number of Macs that were sold with Snow Leopard would take a huge performance hit by upgrading to Mountain Lion, making it an unattractive upgrade...Mountain Lion is really kinda bloated.

But there are some good things still, alot of Mac users wouldn't have to face all the changes that Windows is making (i.e. Metro). Great for the short term, not very good for the long term, especially if the Mac platform is stagnating other than the usual specs bumps...kinda like how smartphones are in 2013.

I felt like it being a service pack when going from Lion to Mountain Lion.

It would be good to get quicker updates - Microsoft needs to invest heavily in this area. For me the desktop is dead for my leisure time (I'm on an i5 tablet), I want the Metro platform and core apps upgraded every 3 months or so.
The Metro interface can accommodate Office apps (ribbon via pull down, pop up menus by finger and file management though charms). The OS settings should be complete via charms and no need to go to desktop for homegroup etc.
I don't think this is asking too much being a software developer myself. I will probably download the consumer preview but what I've seen of it so far (from a leisure user POV) leads me to believe I won't be too impressed with the changes. I hope I am very wrong or they get their act together and add features on a much quicker timescale post blue!

Do you want a cookie or something? You win the guessing game on what MS will call something. Who cares? Do you normally get worked up by trivial things like this?

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
Been telling all the idiot's this was clearly not a SP, and nothing like a SP. It was very obvious but people lack common sense.

It's been quite sad over the years to see Neowin readers get so worked up over what features will come in each new service pack. They don't. Apart from XP SP2 (which should have been given a name like Windows XP R2 or something), service packs never do include anything but bug fixes and occasional low level system tweaks. As you say, this is not a SP ... and I'm pleased to say it appears that the days of featureless SPs may finally have ended. Death to service packs ... long live updates! :-)

You are mistaken on what I care about. My point is that MS could have named it whatever the hell they want. You were exclaiming how right you are, so GOOD JOB DUDE! YOU ROCK! who cares....

As long as I can reformat using a disc, and install fewer updates (the damned OS has over 500 mb!) It takes a lot to download those many mbs!

Although the 8.1 update is free, which is good news, I think whatever update comes in 2014 won't be free, or at least at some point they'll charge for it I'm sure. If the update in 2014 is bigger, and like 8.5 they could very well charge a small fee for it.

GP007 said,
Although the 8.1 update is free, which is good news, I think whatever update comes in 2014 won't be free, or at least at some point they'll charge for it I'm sure. If the update in 2014 is bigger, and like 8.5 they could very well charge a small fee for it.

If MS will indeed switch to yearly "features updates" of the OS they will surely will and honestly it makes sense. Some people will buy each and all of them, others just some etc.
This scenario raises above another question though: what will be the price of a new release of the OS? For example from W9 to W10? It could not be any longer aligned to what it is right now and has been in the past. Eventually we will see people using W8.3 paying much less than others running W8.0 .

Isn't one of the new features of the store that it will now automatically download and update your apps?
So we all have to manually install Win8.1 update, but after that the updates will happen without any user interaction
Or am I missing something?

Stoffel said,
Isn't one of the new features of the store that it will now automatically download and update your apps?
So we all have to manually install Win8.1 update, but after that the updates will happen without any user interaction
Or am I missing something?

That sounds right to me. But even if it did install updates automatically you'd still have to first do the initial install of whatever it is that it'll update on it's own after that. I expect that even with 8.1 any update after it for the OS won't be automatic (they can probably flag it to be manual) just because of the size of the update and so on. We're not talking a single app update here.

Brony said,
update = service pack
upgrade = new software.

Update = Incremental builds/fixes/etc of software, minor version numbering. May or may not have new features, but nothing drastic.
Upgrades typically are major releases, can have major differences between versions.
Service pack = collection of updates.

Not sure where you're getting rhetoric from though.

I hope Microsoft release a new ISO or also provide the update through Windows Update rather than only providing it through the store.

That would really mess up my great VBScript

It doesn't matter if Windows 8 is good or bad. You try buying a PC from dell running anything other than Windows 8? You can't. Unless you get a refurbed old model.

Consumers don't have a choice with MS. Most if not all OEMs now ship Windows 8.

In fact, I'm not sure I can think of anyone selling brand new models using Windows 7

No point of that now. There was a time when they brought back the option of purchasing both... but they stopped that. Windows 8 is great, and Windows 8.1 is even better and the start of a new era. No point in selling an old OS, which will only slow down the development process for both MS and developers as they would have to support both even longer if they keep selling both. Also, the fact that you say consumers don't have choice with MS is bull. You have the MOST choice with MS... there's a countless number of hardware from a large variety of OEMs (from super high-end to super low-end) for people to choose from based on their needs and budget.

glen8 said,
It doesn't matter if Windows 8 is good or bad. You try buying a PC from dell running anything other than Windows 8? You can't. Unless you get a refurbed old model.

Consumers don't have a choice with MS. Most if not all OEMs now ship Windows 8.

In fact, I'm not sure I can think of anyone selling brand new models using Windows 7


Lenovo offers ThinkPad with W7 on its website. Not sure about others but I guess there would be such option although probably for business oriented machines.

glen8 said,
It doesn't matter if Windows 8 is good or bad. You try buying a PC from dell running anything other than Windows 8? You can't. Unless you get a refurbed old model.

Consumers don't have a choice with MS. Most if not all OEMs now ship Windows 8.

In fact, I'm not sure I can think of anyone selling brand new models using Windows 7

Same is true of Android and iOS. If I want Android 2.3 on my new Galaxy it isn't available. If I buy a new iPad I don't get a choice of OS version. At least Windows lets you downgrade.

I just hope its slipstreamable and not like the previous "service packs". I am tired of having to order new media everytime they make changes.

Gotenks98 said,
I just hope its slipstreamable and not like the previous "service packs". I am tired of having to order new media everytime they make changes.

Why do you order new media? I just slipstream and burn a new CD if I need a physical copy.

techbeck said,

Why do you order new media? I just slipstream and burn a new CD if I need a physical copy.

Because you cant slipstream all the previous service packs. No that vlite/nlite crap does not count. That does not integrate cleanly. I know back when I tried that with vista any machines that needed the next SP after that would never install it due to something weird happening with that.

Gotenks98 said,
Because you cant slipstream all the previous service packs. No that vlite/nlite crap does not count. That does not integrate cleanly. I know back when I tried that with vista any machines that needed the next SP after that would never install it due to something weird happening with that.

Ive never had a problem slipstreaming a SP.

Isn't it a little early to be talking about Windows 8.2 and beyond it, when Windows 8.1 isn't even officially out yet?

Sure, I'm interested in the future of Windows 8 but let the upcoming update have its day on the spotlight.

A340600 said,
Isn't it a little early to be talking about Windows 8.2 and beyond it, when Windows 8.1 isn't even officially out yet?

Sure, I'm interested in the future of Windows 8 but let the upcoming update have its day on the spotlight.


Usually there are,some teams at MS that begin working on the next release of the OS even before the one in the work reaches RTM. Also I guess people asked about to confirm the rumors about yearly updates of the OS .

Yep. I know about teams working on the next release, even as the next release is about to come out, but I think Microsoft wants to talk about Windows 8.1 and not about future releases. Maybe that'll come after 8.1 is officially debuted?

A340600 said,
Yep. I know about teams working on the next release, even as the next release is about to come out, but I think Microsoft wants to talk about Windows 8.1 and not about future releases. Maybe that'll come after 8.1 is officially debuted?

Well, in the case of Windows Phone, they may not discuss a feature list or anything, but they acknowledge that future updates are also planned... I think that's why people are wondering about that. Because if they take the same tact with Windows then we should have an idea on what to expect and when...

I like this approach much better too.

I wonder though if the 8.1 update (and any other similar future update) will also include all the previous fixes/updates delivered over the "Windows Update" like Service Packs do.

nMIK-3 said,
I like this approach much better too.

I wonder though if the 8.1 update (and any other similar future update) will also include all the previous fixes/updates delivered over the "Windows Update" like Service Packs do.

It most likely will. It seems like 8.1 will replace Windows 8.

Hmm...

With Windows Update, if it is set to automatically download and install, then if Microsoft distributed the Windows 8.1 Update through Windows Update, it could automatically install.

But, in its current form, the Windows Store can only be set to automatically download (The auto-install portion is a feature new to 8.1). So, if Microsoft distributes the Windows 8.1 Update through the Windows Store, I wonder how many people will not get the update? (ie: The user's Store live tile indicates several updates, but the user never installs them, and the OS cannot auto-install.)

Am I wrong about all this?

PUC_Snakeman said,
Hmm...

With Windows Update, if it is set to automatically download and install, then if Microsoft distributed the Windows 8.1 Update through Windows Update, it could automatically install.

But, in its current form, the Windows Store can only be set to automatically download (The auto-install portion is a feature new to 8.1). So, if Microsoft distributes the Windows 8.1 Update through the Windows Store, I wonder how many people will not get the update? (ie: The user's Store live tile indicates several updates, but the user never installs them, and the OS cannot auto-install.)

Am I wrong about all this?

I agree, novice users won't know what windows store is, they may never get win 8.1 or newer on their pc as a result. They should just release it on windows update instead.

torrentthief said,

I agree, novice users won't know what windows store is, they may never get win 8.1 or newer on their pc as a result. They should just release it on windows update instead.

How does one simply miss the store? It's pinned to START by default...

By default, it's set to automatically download app updates... so everyone will get it... but I'm not sure if people will actually click in to install. Maybe there's a trigger in "Windows Update" that will push that? I dunno.

You can't help stupid users who ignore something as big as the store. The same happens with Windows Update. You know how many family and friends computers I've had to fix because they never bothered to install updates (even if they are set to auto-install. it doesn't really do it in a timely manner)?

That's the thing. By default, Windows update protects even the stupid users, and will install updates even if it means forcing a system restart to do it. But I'm not aware of a mechanism to auto-install anything from the Windows Store, which is why made the comment to begin with.

If Microsoft doesn't have some trick up their sleeve to install this update without user intervention, then I think they're making a mistake by releasing it via the Windows Store, because some users may never manage Store updates.

PUC_Snakeman said,
Hmm...
Am I wrong about all this?

Not saying you're wrong, but we don't know if Microsoft have a way of notifying users when they sign into their Microsoft account that there is an update for them. Much like how Windows Messenger/msn/wlm let users know they needed to update soon.

Dot Matrix said,

How does one simply miss the store? It's pinned to START by default...


The store tile yes but there could be people who do not have a MS account and do not use it.
Said that it is important to note that the preview will be made available through the store, we do not know how the RTM one will be offered.

Dot Matrix said,

How does one simply miss the store? It's pinned to START by default...

You'd be surprised just how many people skip/ignore that store! Many consumers who buy a PC with Windows 8, don't give a damn about it, don't want a Microsoft account, and go straight to the desktop. Sometimes I feel that you are naive when it comes to Windows 8.

JHBrown said,
You'd be surprised just how many people skip/ignore that store! Many consumers who buy a PC with Windows 8, don't give a damn about it, don't want a Microsoft account, and go straight to the desktop. Sometimes I feel that you are naive when it comes to Windows 8.

Not only that, but updates from the store is really strange. They have a small text link in the top right for updates.
It's almost like it was a dev feature they forgot to remove; you know, so the dev team can check when updates are being pushed to the machine.
I know my dad likes metro apps because they fill the screen and he just pulls down from the top center to get back to the start and loads another up. Mind, he is in his 70's now. He does visit the store for apps and such but that link to updates is never used. He certainly never visits to check for updates.

Myself I think it's a bit weird to leave an update system like that in the store, with no popups or anything to tell you there are updates. I don't think the store provides any notifications apart from when new apps are installed, but that could just be the start screen notification for apps.

torrentthief said,

I agree, novice users won't know what windows store is, they may never get win 8.1 or newer on their pc as a result. They should just release it on windows update instead.

The whole point of Windows 8 is the store. If a user is not using the Windows Store then they are of no value to Microsoft and it doesn't matter if they upgrade.

The whole point of pushing out the upgrade for free is getting new APIs in the hands of users so developers will make better Windows Store apps. If you don't even access the Windows Store then MS has no reason to care if you get this update. They already sold you Windows.

Avatar Roku said,

The whole point of Windows 8 is the store. If a user is not using the Windows Store then they are of no value to Microsoft and it doesn't matter if they upgrade.

The whole point of pushing out the upgrade for free is getting new APIs in the hands of users so developers will make better Windows Store apps. If you don't even access the Windows Store then MS has no reason to care if you get this update. They already sold you Windows.

Really? Since when the OS is free? Of course the OS is valuable for MS: W8 Pro $199.99 each copy. The store is another, potential, source of revenues.

What's the difference between deploying a standalone package and triggering an automatic install from the Windows Store?

Joshie said,
What's the difference between deploying a standalone package and triggering an automatic install from the Windows Store?

Some of us have update servers and control what updates are applied and when. Plus, we dont want multiple PCs downloading from the internet at once and taking up the bandwidth.

EDIT: Also, many of our users do not have external internet access. Just the internal intranet.

Edited by techbeck, May 14 2013, 7:17pm :

techbeck said,

Some of us have update servers and control what updates are applied and when. Plus, we dont want multiple PCs downloading from the internet at once and taking up the bandwidth.

EDIT: Also, many of our users do not have external internet access. Just the internal intranet.


This sort of thing should be documented, since the mechanism would already need to be in place before the update. From what I've seen, though, side-loading and the Windows Store have a clear line drawn between them.

On the other hand, if OEMs will be able to load Windows 8.1 from scratch onto new PCs, it should be possible to distribute an update package. But I think the old slipstreaming days are behind us.

As this update is distributed through the store, one would think that you could use the AppLocker and Security Restriction Policy features to keep users from downloading this prematurely. I'm pretty sure there will be a way for IT to prevent it from being distributed prematurely as well as a way to deploy it when you are ready, perhaps either through System Center or the Windows ADK.

Excellent to finally see an official answer to this. After taking a look i think its very strange that they are doing it as an additional download rather than a Service Package. It is also good to see that it will be a free upgrade rather than an additional purchase.

littleneutrino said,
Excellent to finally see an official answer to this. After taking a look i think its very strange that they are doing it as an additional download rather than a Service Package. It is also good to see that it will be a free upgrade rather than an additional purchase.

It is not a SP, it will bring changes to the OS and MS wants, correctly I would add, emphasizes this.

This is the way forward. Updates to both Windows and Windows Phone.

I like this a whole lot better than (now legacy) service packs.

Dot Matrix said,
This is the way forward. Updates to both Windows and Windows Phone.

I like this a whole lot better than (now legacy) service packs.

Agreed IF they are consistent, regular updates... Windows Phone has them, so I'm hoping Windows will as well.

They probably want to be very clean on this after the XP SP2 release, which was both a service pack and an update. Every service pack after that was met with bad reviews because it didn't add any new features. The classic definition is that a service pack fixes things without fundamentally changing the platform. An update expands the platform.

sphbecker said,
They probably want to be very clean on this after the XP SP2 release, which was both a service pack and an update. Every service pack after that was met with bad reviews because it didn't add any new features. The classic definition is that a service pack fixes things without fundamentally changing the platform. An update expands the platform.

Huh? Traditionally, service packs were never meant to add features. XP SP2 was the oddball out because prior to that, XP didn't have any security features with it, minus the firewall support that came with SP1.

Dot Matrix said,
This is the way forward. Updates to both Windows and Windows Phone.

I like this a whole lot better than (now legacy) service packs.

You are talking about two different things: Service packs were, usually, a collection of previously released fixes and eventually new ones; we may not see SPs in the future but I am sure that MS will keep releasing fixes and patches as before. If they are moving the release cycle of OS improvements on a yearly base will be interesting to see how they will structure the pricing: it could be around $60/80 for major ones, W8 to W9 for example, and around $30 for yearly ones.

Fritzly said,

You are talking about two different things: Service packs were, usually, a collection of previously released fixes and eventually new ones; we may not see SPs in the future but I am sure that MS will keep releasing fixes and patches as before. If they are moving the release cycle of OS improvements on a yearly base will be interesting to see how they will structure the pricing: it could be around $60/80 for major ones, W8 to W9 for example, and around $30 for yearly ones.


Your price figures are a bit much. $15 instead of $30 for yearly updates, $30/40 for major ones.

soldier1st said,

Your price figures are a bit much. $15 instead of $30 for yearly updates, $30/40 for major ones.

While I personally would not mind at all if prices will be the ones you indicated this would also mean a big cut on MS profits. W8 Pro, Upgrade Edition is now $199.99, even considering three updates during the lifespan of the OS plus the price of the major release you total, using the prices I indicated $170, which is already almost $30 less than the actual price. The fact that MS would receive payments during the entire life cycle of the OS and not just every X years, which is using your pricing, I am afraid that the difference is too steep.

Dot Matrix said,
This is the way forward. Updates to both Windows and Windows Phone.

I like this a whole lot better than (now legacy) service packs.

MS-DOS 6.2 was a free step-up for owners of MS-DOS 6.0.

Looks like Microsoft is returning to its roots. Welcome back.