Were you unable to update to Windows 8.1? Microsoft finally has a fix for you

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 [1] 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.

Download: Windows RT 8.1 Updates | Source: Paul Thurrott 

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30 Comments

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I dont trust anything that Paul guy says. This article is already wrong starting out. People don't realize that 8.1 is a totally different OS. Its not an update or service pack. Its a separate OS install. The problem is they are forcing this upgrade scenario on people instead of letting them clean install. So unless they are letting OEM customers use their 8.0 keys to download 8.1 ISO like how the retail people can, its still going to be epic phail out of the box.

That is a big issue. If the update to 8.1 is free why require a separate key? In the case of a re-install it would be nice to get the latest 8.x media and do an install with the key that's stored in the firmware. Instead you have to install 8, then several gigabytes of downloads and much time later you are finished. It's a real kick in the teeth for people that support and maintain Windows 8 systems.

I have faced the issue of being unable to update to 8.1 in many different scenarios. Many times particularly with Dell, you have to have Dells own latest chipset drivers installed before you do the update. Many other times you can force the update using PowerShell. With the PowerShell fix you have to run that more than once also. Here is a link to the PowerShell procedure that I hope folks can avoid actually.

http://answers.microsoft.com/e...9821-4072-bfcc-3b41c1717f6d

I hope this new fix will help many to avoid having to go through these painful work-arounds.

I think I had a client who had the VOLUME_MAK version of Windows 8? (I forget specifically what it was called.) But there was no update to 8.1 from it for a long time. I think it was just a few months ago they FINALLY released the update for it.

So the download link is only for Windows RT? Any actual download for Windows 8.0 yet? Looking for something I can put onto a USB thumbdrive to update machines that come in, without having to hit Windows Update if possible.

testman said,
Don't be an idiot. Just change the option to boot to desktop

I did, and i still get the nag screen with squares blocking my entire screen every time i open the start menu,......

I use Win+S to bring up a search box at the side. It works well and allows me to type what I want if it isn't already pinned to the task bar without obscuring the whole screen. I'm amazed that this function hasn't gained more traction - I haven't seen one mention in any blogs, articles etc.

I still think Microsoft are doing the right thing by bringing back some form of Start menu as an option though - particularly if it makes it possible to see live tiles without switching to the Start screen.

I was unable to upgrade volume license Windows 8 Enterprise to Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Even Setup /auto:upgrade failed. Doesn't look like the pilot update program is going to fix this.

After over a month of trying fixes and all the solutions around last year, I had to give in and do a complete reinstall to get to 8.1, and that was on a barely used Windows 8.

Last month Windows 8/8.1 as an entity was again going nowhere (according to Net Applications) and 8.1 only took .3% or so share from 8, It seems most of those left on 8 cannot upgrade or simply don't know because they don't use the store.

If MS had done this properly on launch the number of people on 8 would likely be <1% by now instead of still being almost level with 8.1 @~6%.

Mine went through update fine, then upon login for the first time, immediately got stuck in a Repair loop. Couldn't do anything to fix it.

TsarNikky check your windows update logs and see why it's failing. I bet it says IE 11 is already installed which means you have partial cab files. Which means command line removal.

This is the Windows 7 IE 10 command line removal for partial windows update files. I don't run Windows 8 but I bet the structure is similar.

FORFILES /P %WINDIR%\servicing\Packages /M Microsoft-Windows-InternetExplorer-*10.*.mum /c "cmd /c echo Uninstalling package @fname && start /w pkgmgr /up:@fname /quiet /norestart"

My dad's computer can't update to Windows 8.1 because it refuses to connect to the Store at all times. Maybe this helps?

Menge said,
My dad's computer can't update to Windows 8.1 because it refuses to connect to the Store at all times. Maybe this helps?

You sure the date and time is correct on that PC? Windows Update (and the Store) has major issues doing anything if there is a time and date mismatch.

Another possible cause is that it's logged in as an Administrator account. I use this account to log into my machine and any Metro apps (including the Store) refuse to work with it.

Steven P. said,

You sure the date and time is correct on that PC? Windows Update (and the Store) has major issues doing anything if there is a time and date mismatch.

Adamodeus said,
Another possible cause is that it's logged in as an Administrator account. I use this account to log into my machine and any Metro apps (including the Store) refuse to work with it.

I checked Data & Time, Admin Account, Non-Admin, Microsoft Account, Local Account and Proxies (all the recommended fixes) and none of them fix it. I was going to format his computer this week, but I'll wait until I try this update :)

What about all of us who still can't upgrade/install IE11, or a recent KB...503 update for Windows-7? I guess we must be just rotten chopped liver.

I've got a client's desktop that's stuck and won't do any updates, so hopefully this might fix the problem.

Raa said,
I've got a client's desktop that's stuck and won't do any updates, so hopefully this might fix the problem.

Would appreciate an update on whether this helped you, if you would mind.

Sounds more like an issue with windows update than with this specific update. You might need to try resetting all the associated windows update services.

I've come across a few computers that won't update because of corruption in the C:\windows\winsxs directory. Some can be fixed with this command:

dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

This used to be handled by the Windows Update Readiness tool but is now rolled into dism. I had one computer that the above would not fix and and just ran setup.exe from a Windows 8.1 ISO to do an in-place upgrade, selecting the option to keep all files, programs and settings. That worked too.

Davib said,

dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

That didn't work, I ran it several times.

Davib said,

I had one computer that the above would not fix and and just ran setup.exe from a Windows 8.1 ISO to do an in-place upgrade, selecting the option to keep all files, programs and settings. That worked too.

I suspect that's the only solution I have left.

I updated 2 pc's. both failed the first time and had no issues on second try.
This shouldn't be happening on laptops with no extra hardware.