When Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 8.1, users of Windows 8 from around the world rushed to download the latest bits. While most individuals had no problems installing the updates, some users were unable to do so and became stuck in a vicious cycle of being unable to update.
Microsoft was aware of this problem and it affects those on Windows 8 RT as well as Windows 8 but the Redmond based company says it now has a fix for the issue.
The fix, is actually being called a pilot program, which means it isn't widely available yet but you can download it via the manual link below. Microsoft told Paul Thurrott that:
"This (Windows RT) pilot program is an example of ways we're experimenting to help ensure more of our customers benefit from a continuously improving Windows experience," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "Similar to how the Windows 8.1 Update  process works today, the pilot program will automatically update consumer Windows 8 and Windows RT machines for free to Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update in select markets."
Before you try anything, give Windows Update one last chance before you start looking towards this alternative method. If that fails and you are on Windows RT, hit the download link at the bottom of this post. If you are on Windows proper, you can check the Windows Update as the bits will be showing up soon, if they have not already.
Also, before you try to download any of the new bits for this workaround, make sure you have update 2871389 installed.
What's interesting about the approach is that Microsoft, with this program, is pulling down the update bits for Windows 8.1 (and update 1) using Windows Update and not the Windows Store. That's quite the change in procedure for the update but hopefully it will remedy the issue that some users were experiencing.