Microsoft details how you can try the public preview of Windows 8.1


Now that you’ve seen Windows 8.1 in action and know what to expect from this refresh of Microsoft’s new operating system, you’re already counting down the days until June 26 to see what a difference this update will make (or not) to your Windows experience. But before you start wiping your computer in anticipation for this consumer preview, you should know some of the nitty-grtties about this preview of the upgrade to the operating system.

As Michael Niehaus, Microsoft’s senior product marketing manager, revealed at TechEd North America on Tuesday, getting a copy of the consumer-ready preview version of Windows 8.1 will involve some work on the tester’s end. Here’s the fine print.

Preview of Windows 8.1 is optional

First of all, this update is only available to existing Window 8 and Windows RT users (for free) because only they will receive a Windows Update notification to download the preview from the Windows Store. Current users are not obligated to give this version of Windows 8.1 a try at all, so don’t worry if you have no interest in being a guinea pig for Microsoft. Of course you can still upgrade to Windows 8.1 once the final version is ready, or not install the update at all and keep using stock Windows 8/RT. Based on ZDNet‘s conversation with Microsoft officials, users who opt to skip the preview version of Windows 8.1 won’t have to re-install all their apps.

Windows 8.1 testers beware

Users who do install the preview copy of Windows 8.1 will later be prompted to download the final release of the software, once the version is good enough to send to manufacturers to install on new devices (also known as the RTM edition). Although you won’t have to start from scratch and set up all your accounts and passwords again when you go from the preview copy to the final release of Windows 8.1, according to ZDNet, you’ll have to re-install all your apps. In fact, you’ll have to re-install all your apps even if you don’t like the preview version of Windows 8.1 and want to go back to Windows 8.

Depending on which version of Windows 8 or RT you’re running, you’ll have a slightly different level of re-installation fun as you move from the preview copy to the final version of Windows 8.1. If you have a Windows RT device with an ARM processor, you’ll have to re-install the Windows Store/Metro-style apps after you upgrade to the final release. If you are using full Windows 8 on a x86 machine, you’ll have to re-install both Windows Store/Metro-style apps as well as Desktop apps.

Windows 8.1 preview requirements

Still want to give the preview version of Windows 8.1 a whirl when it comes out on June 26? You’ll need about 4GB of free storage space on your device to install the preview software. Niehaus said his team has been trying to shrink the size of the software as much as possible, but it’s still a significant update to the operating system, so there’s a limit to how tiny the file size could be. This is a bit worrisome for 32GB Surface RT owners, as the operating system already eats up about 16GB of your internal storage, and this preview update will take up another 4GB. Perhaps it’s time to start transferring some files to SkyDrive.


Google Chrome now shows browser notifications in Windows 10 Action Center

Google's switch to displaying Chrome notifications inside Windows 10's Action Center gives users more control. Now, Windows 10's Focus Assist, a do not disturb function, can also be applied to Chrome notifications.

Windows 10 can split and resize windows with ease. Here's how to do it

Windows 10 is a great desktop operating system, and its many window management features are part of the reason why. Here's how to divvy up windows using Snap Assist and other native tools.

Motorola Moto Z3 vs. Moto Z3 Play: Is Motorola's latest flagship worth buying?

Motorola has finally taken the wraps off of its latest flagship phone, the Moto Z3. But with slightly different-than-expected specs and a very similar design, is it really that much better than the Moto Z3 Play?

Having issues with Microsoft Edge? Here's how to fix the most common problems

If you're feeling frustrated with Microsoft Edge, or have run into a serious problem with Windows 10's built-in browser, take a look at these common issues and the solutions that can help you get back on track.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

For work or for play, these are the 5 best laptop deals for college students

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the five best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming…

The browser-based Monero miner Coinhive generates around $250,000 each month

Despite a fall in cryptocurrency mining, the Coinhive Monero miner is still highly active, generating around $250,000 each month. Coinhive also contributes 1.18 percent of the total mining power behind the Monero blockchain.

Steam survey shows PC gamers are still mostly playing in 1080p and lower

Valve Software’s latest hardware and software survey for July 2reveals that 63.72 percent of Steam’s registered members still play games with a 1080p resolution. Even more, only 1.14 percent are playing at a 4K resolution.

The Andromeda botnet still lingers as nations struggle to clean infected PCs

A report by Fortinet suggests that although the FBI and Europe ended the Andromeda botnet’s reign in late 2017, there are still infected PCs. Cleaning up these PCs isn’t progressing at the same pace across various regions.

8 easy ways for you to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC

If you haven't already, you should back up your photos to a computer. Here's how to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC using third-party services and a wealth of storage devices.

Apple AR glasses will launch in 2020, says respected industry analyst

Apple AR glasses may be closer to reality than we thought. Here is everything we know so far about the augmented reality system, including the rumored specifications of Apple's Project Mirrorshades.
Social Media

How to use Adobe Spark Post to spice up your social media images

Images are proven to get more likes than plain text -- but only if those images are good. Adobe Spark post is an AI-powered design program for non-designers. Here's how to use it to take your social media feeds to the next level.

Google One subscriptions offer more cloud storage for low prices, other perks

Can't get enough storage on Google Drive, Photos, or Gmail? Google One is the new way to boost your cloud storage. But it's not just about more space -- Google One comes with a loads of benefits.

A turn for the better: Loupedeck+ adds custom dials, more to Lightroom console

The Loupedeck+ improves on the original Lightroom console by adding welcome customization options and introducing support for Skylum Aurora HDR. What's even better is that it does this all at an even lower price.