Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 update was unleashed to the world on Thursday, bringing with it a host of new features. The Start button has returned, and there’s even a way to boot directly to your desktop—totally skipping the tile-heavy user interface once known as Metro UI. You’ll want to upgrade if you’re an existing Windows 8 user and, thankfully, there are just a few small steps you need to take in order to get fully up to date.
This simple guide applies to both users running Windows 8 and Windows 7. However, just know that before all you Windows 7 owners dive in to the Metro future, you’ll have to pony up some cash in order to get the latest update: $119 for the basic version and $199.99 for a Pro version. Not cheap, and prices that’ll likely keep you from upgrading at all. But, hey, existing Windows 8 users get the update for free, so there’s that.
Get yourself updated:
As with anything, make sure you’re fully updated and backed up before installing new software. The likelihood of something going awry is slim, but there’s always that slight chance you’ll run into problems. To make sure your system is ready to go, simply head into your Settings menu, go to Change PC settings, find Windows Update and then download all applicable software. Once that’s all set, you have two options available to you, both of which are dead simple.
The most obvious step is to go through the Windows Store, which you can access from your Start screen. Once you’re in the store, simply search for Windows 8.1, click on the update, and then install. Sit back, relax and reboot. That’s it. Anyone can do it.
The method is just as easy through Windows.com; once you go to the site, you’ll be greeted by some big promotional information about the update, where you can take a tour and learn what’s new (Microsoft even highlights what’s different between Windows 7 and Windows 8). Go to the Download & Shop portion, and then click on the big “Get Windows 8.1 button.” The rest will take care of itself.
According to Microsoft’s website, requirements for Windows 8.1 include:
1GHz processor or faster with support for PAE, NX and SSE2
1-2GB RAM / 16-20GB available hard disk space
1024 x 768 screen resolution DirectX9 graphics processor with WDDM driver
There are a ton of other additional requirements you’ll need to meet if you want to take advantage of specific features, such as those that require a touchscreen, which you can see right here. Otherwise, the process of upgrading is pretty painless for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. Windows 8.1 introduces a lot of small changes that actually make the experience feel much better; there’s now a feeling that the tiled and traditional desktop now complement each other, rather than clash completely.
If nothing else, at least there’s now a Start button.