Report: Windows 8.1 Preview ISO files to be released by Microsoft

Microsoft has already announced that current Windows 8 users can download the upcoming public preview version of Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store on June 26, but what about all the other Windows users who have yet to try out the company's newest operating system? As it turns out, Microsoft may have them covered as well.

In a message on the MyDigitalLife forums, Neowin forum member FaiKee has posted what he says are extracts from an official Windows 8.1 Preview Q&A that will go live on Microsoft's website on June 26. The Q&A states the Windows 8.1 Preview will also be available for download as an ISO file in addition to the Windows Store direct update.

The alleged Microsoft Q&A says that these files are meant to be used in case users want to give their PCs a way to dual boot to the preview version of Windows 8.1 while also keeping their current versions of Windows running on their rig. However, PCs must already be set up as a dual-boot system ahead of time as downloading the Windows 8.1 preview ISO files won't allow users to select another partition on their PC.

The Q&A also states that people who have Windows 8 Pro with Media Center on their PC who decide to download the Windows 8.1 Preview via the ISO method will find that their Media Center features have been removed. They can be put back in if users reinstall the Windows 8 Pro pack or the Windows 8 Media Center product key.

Thanks to FaiKee for the tip!

Source: MyDigitalLife | Image via Microsoft

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dvb2000 said,
no doubt will be the least downloaded preview of any software this year.

or.... might be the most downloaded because of people hoping stuff changed to their liking?....

How will this work on my Dell XPS 10?

I can update through the store, but say if I had to reset to factory settings. This will mean I will have to update via the store again. Unless I can simply pull the WIM from the ISO, but what about product key etc etc

glen8 said,
How will this work on my Dell XPS 10?

I can update through the store, but say if I had to reset to factory settings. This will mean I will have to update via the store again. Unless I can simply pull the WIM from the ISO, but what about product key etc etc

What are you doing that you're constantly obsessed with factory resets? What about the product key?

Dot Matrix said,

What are you doing that you're constantly obsessed with factory resets? What about the product key?

Dell use an OEM product key for all devices. This is held within the wim file on the recovery partition. If MS release an RT ISO image (I don't think they will at all) upon installation I will have to put a product key in.

To be honest, I'm 99.99% sure that the RT update will be just that (ie, no 8.1 base image)

Sorry for asking this but I am not sure I understood.

If I upgrade my Win8 to Win8.1 via the Windows Store update, I will have to reinstall desktop applications like Office and Photoshop?

It's extremely unlikely you would have to re-install Office and Photoshop, since 8.1 is the equivalent of a service pack.

You will have to re-install them when updating from the preview to the final version.

But not when upgrading from 8 to the 8.1 preview.

Note that unless you take a backup first, there is no way to roll back from the preview before installing the final version.

Yes if you install the preview version that will be released on the 26th , you have to re-install everything again , but your files will be kept intact. However, if you wait till the RTM version then you don't have to re-install your applications again .

Would anyone know what would happen if I install using the Windows Store?
How would it effect reverting back to Windows 8?

This is second new Win OS which I am not very excited about even though I use Win 8. The only reason I use it because it has better dual monitor support.

So the download from the store, is this going to overwrite windows 8 and do a clean install? Or will it simply upgrade and keep everything?

McKay said,
So the download from the store, is this going to overwrite windows 8 and do a clean install? Or will it simply upgrade and keep everything?

it will upgrade, then when it is final you will need to perform a clean install

What is new in windows 8.1?
A 24 inch full screen calculator, the patches, a few more classes in the .net framework, and full screen search boxes

All is good news for tablets

For desktops? An image of the start button that opens the start screen, and boot to desktop which can be done by a shortcut

Yet another year and still nothing new

john.smith_2084 said,
What is new in windows 8.1?
A 24 inch full screen calculator, the patches, a few more classes in the .net framework, and full screen search boxes

All is good news for tablets

For desktops? An image of the start button that opens the start screen, and boot to desktop which can be done by a shortcut

Yet another year and still nothing new

Main reason I'm sticking with 7. However, I do believe that in 2-3 revisions, Windows will be great again(hoping).

JHBrown said,
Main reason I'm sticking with 7. However, I do believe that in 2-3 revisions, Windows will be great again(hoping).

i suspect when windows 8 still has low usage stats after windows 8.1 that they will be forced to allow users to optionally bring back the start menu without having to install a 3rd party application. Unfortunately much of the damage will have been done at that point, many people won't hear the news that start menu can be returned so windows8 will likely always remain a flop in terms of usage. P.S usage doesn't mean sales, many people with win8 computers formatted and installed win7, the usage levels are very low compared to sales.

torrentthief said,
i suspect when windows 8 still has low usage stats after windows 8.1 that they will be forced to allow users to optionally bring back the start menu without having to install a 3rd party application. .

I totally agree, if people want the start menu, give them the menu, if they want the start screen, give them the start screen, the code is there, make it an option change, keep everyone happy, it is not a big deal!

If people want Aero Glass, keep it inside as an option, if they want the washed-out single colors (Kim Jong Ils uniform) give them that option too, not a big deal, all the code is already there.
Going “My Way of the Highway” will just anger everyone.

And after all of that, going in disillusion and charging OEMs large sums of money for Windows + Office for normal tablets and PC's is just funny :-)

In the last few years Google added Face Recognition, Speech Recognition, and tons of other features to just a browser, and Microsoft is still struggling with a menu and screen borders

When windows 8.1 comes out. For people who bought a PC with windows 8. Will you be able to download it and do a fresh install?

No. You will have to install Windows 8 and then update to 8.1 through the Windows Store.

If you have access to TechNet, you could download the Windows 8.1 ISO from there, but most people won't be able to do this.

It would be stock windows 8 on my PC. It shouldn't be that different then what it is to do an upgrade now should it? Start it, "What would you like to keep?" "nothing" and let it install. If I have a stock version of Windows 8 why would I need to reinstall that first? PC makers don't send disks anymore, it's all built in.

Just a heads-up, this preview won't let you log in with a local account, only with a microsoft one. Now I wonder what will happen when I perform the upgrade from my local account... either way, everyone make sure to make a backup first!

Yes I can what?

"In order to use Windows 8.1 Preview you must sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account. The option to create a local account will be made available at the final release of Windows 8.1."

A local account can be seamlessly switched to a Microsoft account (and vice versa) so this shouldn't be an issue; it would either prompt you to switch before starting the upgrade process or later on during the upgrade.

Arkose said,
A local account can be seamlessly switched to a Microsoft account (and vice versa) so this shouldn't be an issue; it would either prompt you to switch before starting the upgrade process or later on during the upgrade.

The point is, you gotta be registered to Microsoft, which is by no means "seamless" to some. I, for one, avoid online accounts for client profiles whenever possible, such as for my browser, my desktop email client, and... my OS.

It's like this : "You must sign in to the PC with a Microsoft Account to use the Store.There is not a sign-in option when you open the Store as a local account user. "
You can start a local account either in the Preview's MMC, or simply disconnect from web on installing.

FaiKee said,
It's like this : "You must sign in to the PC with a Microsoft Account to use the Store.There is not a sign-in option when you open the Store as a local account user. "
You can start a local account either in the Preview's MMC, or simply disconnect from web on installing.

To begin with, you're wrong. The store's available with a local Windows account (of course). Yes, you need an account for store, but the Windows account doesn't need to be the same account, you can log in separately just for store. OTOH the screenshot explicitly says this will be different for the preview, which is quite contradictory to your claims. So after all, why do you put words in the mouth of Microsoft? You're making some serious assumptions without any evidence.

Hopefully I can just put this in a VM to play with. It will be a worthwhile upgrade when it's finished but I don't want to mess with my main system.

Though if they're going to force me to really mess around, I might just skip the preview altogether.

I don't understand the notification thing that seems like it's going to be suggested to everyone. The vast majority of people really should not be installing this given that it will require re-installation of apps for the final version and is after all a beta. It needs to be a clear opt-in so that only expert users who have an interest and understand what it's about will install it.

I don't completely understand the arbitrary partition limitations what partition restrictions will be in place if you boot from the DVD?

Javik said,
I don't completely understand the arbitrary partition limitations what partition restrictions will be in place if you boot from the DVD?

Oh I don't know. Probably the fact that (in the default config) one partition will be consuming the majority of available space on the drive ? Duh.

Javik said,
I don't completely understand the arbitrary partition limitations what partition restrictions will be in place if you boot from the DVD?

Nothing. The author was wrong.

I know 2012 server will have it's own R2 release, but will something equivalent to this 8.1 be on 2012 server as well, anyone know?

It's my understanding that Windows 8.1 is the equivalent to Windows Server 2012 R2, just like Windows 7 was to Windows Server 2008 R2.

Yea I figured so, thing is, I heard R2 is a paid update, and I haven't heard of the metro/start screen bits being in R2 specifically, so I was wondering if R2 and 8.1 would be separate for 2012. I was just curious.

Why would you want Metro UI (meant for touch devices) on Windows Server (ya know, GUI-less server)? If that's how you operate, let the world make sure to never hire you as their IT/Server guy.

Nas said,
Why would you want Metro UI (meant for touch devices) on Windows Server (ya know, GUI-less server)? If that's how you operate, let the world make sure to never hire you as their IT/Server guy.

Windows Server isn't GUI-less, even Server Core. Any IT/Server guy should know that.

Max Norris said,
Windows Server isn't GUI-less, even Server Core. Any IT/Server guy should know that.

Of course... but it's definitely not meant for Consumer-oriented tasks like video games, movie streaming, onenote, CAD drawing, and other stuff.

(Possible? Sure. Intended? Nope.)

Nas said,
Of course... but it's definitely not meant for Consumer-oriented tasks like video games, movie streaming, onenote, CAD drawing, and other stuff.

It's a launcher... why would it need to be different depending on if you're launching a CAD program or an MMC console? The day-to-day tasks are still desktop or console applications, that hasn't changed. And if they do add actual Metro versions, even better... an admin could remotely administer servers via a tablet that much easier. Click click done versus mucking about a secure shell connection on a touch screen.. no brainer. Throw on live tiles for notifications on important system/network events without having to do anything but logging in, kind of silly to go back to the old design. (Which any admin should know how to do anyway if they wanted to....)

Why would they make sure it can't be installed to another partition/drive? wtf...

I am still on Win 7 and don't want to lose it, yet don't want to have to swap hard drives just to check out what Win 8.1 is like. Come on.

if you extract the iso there is a file you can add called ei.cfg that will give you the option to install it anywhere (i think) plus which version of 8 you want, google it for configuration

Jaybonaut said,
Why would they make sure it can't be installed to another partition/drive? wtf...

I am still on Win 7 and don't want to lose it, yet don't want to have to swap hard drives just to check out what Win 8.1 is like. Come on.

Native VHD boot google it

Doesn't this seem silly to anyone else? Why intentionally make it less configurable than any recent version of Windows during the install?

Same as installing other windows from within windows, do not launch the setup.exe in the root dir., instead launch the setup.exe in the sources folder.

bviktor said,
Just release it already!!

There's nothing wrong with properly testing an update like this... Development takes time.

I did the free MCE Upgrade. Does this mean it will revert to Pro and not be able to upgrade back to MCE for free again? My Pro key was legit btw so it's not really an issue just curious to know

thechronic said,
I did the free MCE Upgrade. Does this mean it will revert to Pro and not be able to upgrade back to MCE for free again? My Pro key was legit btw so it's not really an issue just curious to know

when I did a wipe (inside windows) it wanted me to buy WMC again = bummer (I would wait for the app store and skip the ISO)

Josh the Nerd said,
You were given a new product key to upgrade to WMC, right? Just re-enter the WMC key in Add Features to Windows 8.

You had to activate before a certain date with the free keys.

"You had to activate before a certain date with the free keys." - Exactly. It's now outside of its activation time. I can't just input that free key and activate again i don't think? The last paragraph seems more directed at people who purchased MCE?

thechronic said,
"You had to activate before a certain date with the free keys." - Exactly. It's now outside of its activation time. I can't just input that free key and activate again i don't think? The last paragraph seems more directed at people who purchased MCE?

Not quite correct. If you activated that free key before that date, you can now reactivate the content with that same key. I just did that a few days ago. If you didn't activate with the free key before the cut off date, then it doesn't work anymore.

So installing the 8.1 preview through the store won't affect current licenses? I guess we will be able to upgrade again from the preview to the final 8.1 free of charge?

DaveGreen93 said,
So installing the 8.1 preview through the store won't affect current licenses? I guess we will be able to upgrade again from the preview to the final 8.1 free of charge?

No, it's already been said before you'll have to do a reinstall of windows 8.0 to put 8.1 final on if you've used the 8.1 preview.

Best suggestion is to create a VHD and install 8.1 preview to that. Then when 8.1 is release, simply delete the VHD.

sagum said,

No, it's already been said before you'll have to do a reinstall of windows 8.0 to put 8.1 final on if you've used the 8.1 preview.

Best suggestion is to create a VHD and install 8.1 preview to that. Then when 8.1 is release, simply delete the VHD.


You'll have to reinstall all your applications (desktop applications too), not the whole OS.

You will *have* to or it's the classical "you need to reinstall but if change the build number of the cversion you can upgrade without any issues"?