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Upgrading to Windows 8.1 RTM from Windows 8.1 Preview

On September 17, 2013, contrary to former public statements, Microsoft released the RTM (released to manufacture) version of Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows Server 2012 R2 to TechNet and MSDN subscribers.  This is before the October General Availability (GA) release date.

According to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, “Volume License (VL) customers with active Software Assurance (SA) receive a TechNet subscription as a benefit of SA and can download Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM bits when they are made available”.  Also last week Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate VP of Developer Platform & Evangelism for Microsoft, said GA of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 will be on October 12, 2013.

Like previous versions, Windows 8.1 can be installed as either a clean copy, or as an upgrade to a previous version of Windows.  Microsoft has previously announced that there would be no upgrade path from Windows 8.1 Preview to the RTM version when it becomes available.  Now that this final copy of Windows 8.1 is released, we have more information.  Fortunately, there is an upgrade path, though it is not perfect.

With Windows 7 and previous versions, we only had the ability to upgrade from the previous version of Windows.  In the case of Windows 7, we could upgrade from Vista but not from Windows XP or earlier version.  If you did want to upgrade, then a clean install was required.

When Windows 8 was released we had new options.  Upgrading from the immediate previous version (Windows 7) would allow for a full upgrade carrying over applications, user settings, and data.  Upgrading from older versions, such as Windows Vista were still possible, but only data would be copied over (My Documents, etc).  The previous Windows installation (including Windows and Program Files folders) would be moved to a folder in the root of the C-Drive named “Windows.old”, so you wouldn’t lose anything, it just would be carried over as part of the upgrade.

As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft had said that all of us beta testers would not be able to upgrade from Windows 8.1 Preview to the full version of 8.1 RTM.  Thankfully they threw us a bone and made an exception.

Win 8.1 Choose What to Keep

Windows 8.1 Upgrade – Choose What to Keep

Upgrading from Windows 8.1 Preview to Windows 8.1 (RTM)

If you are running the Windows 8.1 Preview edition, simply pop in the DVD or USB drive with the Windows 8.1 RTM installation files (or burned ISO).  When the installation screen comes up, select upgrade.  You are now presented with the option to upgrade carrying over only your personal data files.




About the author

Robert Borges

About Robert...

I have been in the IT industry since 1993 focusing mainly in networking. Though I got an early start as an amateur computer enthusiast, and wrote my first database app at age 12, I started my professional career working in the MIS department of one of the largest liquor distributors in the northeast. I started out there as a systems operator on the company’s two mainframe systems. From there I moved into PC support, and help design and implement the company’s first client-server network… This was back in the days of Win NT 3.51. I also worked on my first migration to NT 4.0 back then.

From there I went on to work with Novell 3.x and 4.x along with Windows domains and active directory environments. Working my way up from technician, to specialist, to administrator, and eventually all the way up to Sr. Engineer. I spent many years working for consulting firms, 9 of which I owned and operated my own firm.
Over the years, I have worked with (at an expert level) various versions of: Windows client and server operating systems (including Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016); various virtualization technologies (Hyper-V, VMware, etc.); MS-SQL server 6.5- 2014 R2; Exchange 4-2016, and much more.

I am now vCIO at Spade Technology, Inc. focusing on Information Technology strategy including: cloud computing, IT Infrastructure & Architecture, IT Security, and Cloud Computing platforms & technologies (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).

Outside of my day job, I serve as president of the board of Boston User Groups, Inc., as well as IT-Pro User Group. In 2017/2018 Microsoft awarded me the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award, with a focus of Microsoft Azure cloud, for my efforts in the IT community.

I am in a constant state of learning about new products, and new versions of products. Many of which we end up implementing in lab environments and sometimes for our clients. I have a very broad range of expertise and experience. It is my goal to share some of this experience on this blog to help enrich the IT community.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.robertborges.us/2013/10/windows/windows-8/upgrading-to-windows-8-1-rtm-from-windows-8-1-preview/


  1. Ronald

    Good morning Mr. Borges,

    Can you please clarify the last paragraph? I read that if I wanted to get the final version of 8.1, I could simply install 8.1 Preview over my Win7 Home Premium? I already made backups of my docs and programs. It is a matter of formatting and installing my PC with 8.1 Preview version with the ISO.

    Did I read the article correctly?

    “As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft had said that all of us beta testers would not be able to upgrade from Windows 8.1 Preview to the full version of 8.1 RTM. Thankfully they threw us a bone and made an exception.”

    Thank you for your time, sir.

    Yours sincerely,


    1. Robert Borges

      Ronald, This post discusses upgrading from Windows 8.1 Preview to Windows 8.1 RTM. If you are planning on upgrading from Windows 7, I suggest upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Then you will be able to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 as a free upgrade. Going through this process will allow you to keep your files, settings, and applications. I hope this clarifies a little for you.

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    Hi there, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this blog post. It was inspiring.

    Keep on posting!

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