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Installing Windows 8.1
If you already have Windows 8, upgrading to Windows 8.1 is very
simple. It will be the first app you see every time you open the
Windows Store and the installation happens very quickly.
You don't have to reinstall your desktop applications or your
Windows Store apps, and all your files are still there (as are
libraries and the icons pinned to your taskbar).
If you sign in with a Microsoft account you haven't used before,
you might have to use a code that Microsoft emails or texts to you
(if you've set that up in the past) to confirm it's you; that works
like trusting a PC in Windows 8 but you don't have to do it as a
If you have Windows 7 (or earlier versions), you have to install
Windows 8 (the same process as when Windows 8 first came out) and
then upgrade to Windows 8.1.
If you've been trying the Windows 8.1 Preview, you can't upgrade
directly to the RTM version (which Microsoft warned people about
If you can't revert to Windows 8, you still do the update from the
Windows Store and your files will stay on the system, but you'll
have to reinstall your desktop programs.
A new Start
The Start screen gets new large tile sizes so you can see more
information at once. Apps have to be specially built to use this,
but many of Microsoft's own apps are. That means you can read the
three most recent emails or see full details or your next couple of
You can pick from far more colors to customize the Start screen
backgrounds - some of which animate subtly as you scroll sideways -
or you can use your desktop background, in which case your tiles
scroll but your background is fixed.
The Start screen backgrounds don't include all the designs from
Windows 8; some of our favorites are gone and the new designs don't
always work well in different color schemes. In this case, the more
restrictive options might have worked better.
Compare Windows 7 to Windows 8.1
The familiar desktop
Works with a mouse and keyboard
Works with Word, Excel, Outlook, and other familiar programs
Built for touch PCs and tablets
Apps from the Windows Store
Mail, People, and other built-in apps
Keep your settings and apps on all your PCs and devices
Bing smart search to find things across the web, apps, and your PC
Start screen with live updates
Faster startup times
Activate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1
Activation helps verify that Windows hasn’t been used on more PCs
than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow.
To activate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you’ll need a product key for
the version of Windows that’s on your PC. A product key is a
25-character code that looks like this:
PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
How to find your product key depends on how you got your copy of
Windows 7 or Windows 8.1:
If you bought Windows from an authorized retailer, the product key
will be on a label inside the box it came in.
If you bought a new PC running Windows, the product key will be
preinstalled on your PC, included with the packaging the PC came
in, or included on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached
to the PC.
If you bought a digital copy of Windows from a Microsoft website,
the product key will be in the confirmation email you received
after buying it.
If you need to install or reinstall Windows 8.1, you can use the
tools on this page to create your own installation media using
either a USB flash drive or a DVD.
Before you begin
Make sure you have:
An internet connection (internet service provider fees may apply).
Sufficient data storage available on a computer, USB or external
drive for the download.
A blank USB or DVD (and DVD burner) with at least 4 GB of space if
you want to create media. We recommend using a blank USB or blank
DVD, because any content on it will be deleted.
Read the System Requirements.
If you will be installing the operating system for the first time,
you will need your Windows product key
(xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx). For more information about product
keys and when they are required, visit the FAQ page.
For Enterprise editions please visit the Volume Licensing Service
Use the media creation tool (aprx. 1.41MB) to download Windows.
This tool provides the best download experience for customers
running Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. Tool includes:
File formats optimized for download speed.
Built in media creation options for USBs and DVDs.
Optional conversion to ISO file format
The New Windows
The New Windows
Great Apps built in such as Mail, Calendar, Messaging, Photos, and
SkyDrive with many more available at Windows Store.
Includes Internet Explorer 11 for fast, intuitive, touch-friendly
Keeps you up-to-date and more secure with Windows Defender, Windows
Firewall, and Windows Update.
Works with new and existing Windows desktop software including the
full Microsoft Office experience (Outlook, SharePoint Designer and
Comes with Windows Media Player
Provides enhanced data protection using BitLocker technology to
help keep your information secure.**
Enables you to connect to your PC when you’re on the go with Remote
Connects to you corporate or school network with Domain Join.
Watch and record live TV with Windows Media Center.***
Win8 / 8.1 System requirements:
1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
This operating system is eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10
when available. More details below.
The Start screen. Personalize your Start screen with your favorite
news, friends, social networks, and apps. Customizable colors and
backgrounds and four different tile sizes make your device as
unique as you are.
The apps you want. In addition to great built-in apps for e-mail,
people, photos and video editing, you can also download thousands
of popular apps from the Windows Store, including Netflix, ESPN,
Skype, and Halo: Spartan Assault.
It plays as hard as it works. Windows 8.1 gives you the power to
quickly browse, watch movies, play games, polish your resume, and
pull together a killer presentation - all on a single PC.