Microsoft has now made Windows 8.1 Professional available to DreamSpark users.
This is just one more group that has been given early access ahead of the Oct. 18th general release date following outrage from developers and enthusiasts alike, as well as an internal struggle within Microsoft surrounding the initial staggered release plans.
For those without MSDN, TechNet and Dreamspark access, and you are already running Windows 8, the free 8.1 update will be made available in the Windows Store app from Oct. 18 worldwide, U.S. users will get it a day earlier through the same method.
Alternatively, you will be able to buy the standard or Pro version from that date as a boxed copy costing $119, and $199 respectively at your favorite PC store. Windows 8.1 can also be purchased online at the Windows.com Store, although the digitial downloading pricing has not yet been revealed.
Additionally, all versions of Windows 8.1 will be what Microsoft calls "full version software." This will allow users to run the operating system in a virtual environment, a decision Microsoft made after receiving feedback from Windows 8's release. Another change in Windows 8.1 installation process is the removal of direct upgrades from Windows XP and Vista. While users of Windows 7 will be able to keep their files and folders, users of the prior two Windows versions will need to do a clean install of Windows 8.1.