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.

Product Review

Origin's Chronos PC is no looker, but it plays games with eye-popping detail

The Chronos is Origin’s smallest PC, but while it occupies less space than most A/V receivers, it delivers the power of a much larger desktop. Its dull exterior design does the system a disservice. Once you turn it on, you won’t be…

Microsoft leans on A.I. to resume safe delivery of Windows 10 Update

Microsoft is leaning on artificial intelligence as it resumes the automatic rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. You should start seeing the update soon now that Microsoft has resolved problems with the initial software.

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

How good are you at spotting phishing scams? Take this quiz to find out

Are you able to discern between a legitimate email and one that's a scam designed to phish for your personal information? Google created an online quiz with tips to help you better understand phishing so you don't become a victim.

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.

Patent application reveals what’s to come after AMD’s Graphics Core Next

A published patent application from AMD has revealed a new type of graphics processor core which could make a big difference to the capabilities of its GPUs if it finds its way into them in the future.

Microsoft targets Chrome OS with $189 Windows 10 laptops for education

Microsoft announced seven new low-cost Windows 10 laptops, all priced under $300 to take on Chromebooks and iPads in the education market, along with a new Microsoft Allora stylus for students using the Surface Go tablet.

Lenovo patent hints at a future tablet with a folding screen

Folding devices are a new trend, and according to a recent patent, Lenovo is considering a foldable 2-in-1 with a hinge mechanism that would allow consumers to bend back the screen on the device. 

Wifi Porter is a high-tech block of wood that lets you share your broadband

Tired of manually connecting your guests to your home Wi-Fi network? The latest invention from the folks at Ten One Design, the WifiPorter, allow individuals to connect to your Wi-Fi with the tap of their phone, or by scanning an available…