Microsoft Windows 8.1 August Update and Windows Server R2

(Source: “August updates for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2,” Microsoft Windows Blog, 5 August 2014)

In April, we released a bigger, more comprehensive package of improvements to Windows 8.1 called the Windows 8.1 Update. We did the same for Server too, with Windows Server 2012 R2 Update. As we said at the time, our goal is to continue to deliver improvements to Windows through regular updates in order to respond more quickly to customer and partner feedback. After all, we already have a regular monthly update process that includes security and non-security updates.

With the above in mind, rather than waiting for months and bundling together a bunch of improvements into a larger update as we did for the Windows 8.1 Update, customers can expect that we’ll use our already existing monthly update process to deliver more frequent improvements along with the security updates normally provided as part of “Update Tuesday.” So despite rumors and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 “Update 2.”

We’ll continue to use our normal channels such as Windows Update (WU), Microsoft Update (MU), and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to deliver updates to Windows. These updates will include security updates to help keep you protected, as well as non-security updates that can bring a range of improvements to your PC or tablet running Windows. Examples of some of these non-security updates are the Windows Store Refresh in May and the June update to OneDrive to improve your control of sync. Some of these improvements might be more visible or even new features, while others might be more “behind-the-scenes” that improve things like the performance and reliability of your device. With these monthly updates, we continue to refine and improve Windows 8.1 in a more nimble way, creating a richer experience for all Windows customers.

Following are some of the new features and improvements included in the August 12th Update Tuesday:

  • Precision touchpad improvements – three new end-user settings have been added: Leave touch pad on when a mouse is connected; allow right-clicks on the touchpad; double-tap and drag.
  • Miracast Receive – exposes a set of Wi-Fi direct APIs for Independent Hardware Vendor (IHV) drivers or OEM drivers to develop Windows 32-bit applications that run on all supported x86-based or x64-based versions of Windows 8.1, enabling the computer as a Miracast receiver.
  • Minimizing login prompts for SharePoint Online – reduces the number of prompts with federated use in accessing SharePoint Online sites. If you select the “Keep me signed in” check box when you log on for the first time, you will not see prompts for successive access to that SharePoint Online site.

This update will be delivered automatically via WU and optional through WSUS. Enterprises can take the update anytime. Further details on the update will be included here on August 12th.

For current Windows 8.1 consumers who have elected automatic updates, the rollout will be gradual to ensure all customers receive the update in a timely manner. Those who wish to install the update ahead of automatic updates may do so beginning August 12th manually via Windows Update.

As you might expect, we’re taking the same approach to deliver improvements to Windows Server 2012 R2 as well – go here for additional information.


Purchasing and Installing Windows 8.1 From Scratch for a Fresh Installation



Here are the basic steps required to purchase and install Windows 8.1 from Microsoft.

  1. Windows 7 Installation. You’ll need a working Windows computer to perform some of the steps below. If you’re wanting to start with a fresh computer installation, find an original Windows 7 Pro installation DVD (assuming you have a recent Dell computer) and use that DVD to perform a fresh installation. Otherwise, continue to the next step.
  2. Microsoft Store. Go to the Windows 8.1 product page in the Microsoft Store.
    • You’ll see a message stating: “Windows 8.1 full version is for Windows 7 users only. Currently running Windows Vista or XP? First upgrade to Windows 8. Upon installation you can update to 8.1 for free.”
    • This notice somewhat misleading. This version of Windows 8.1  doesn’t require Windows 7. The installation DVD that you’ll create from the download (or have shipped to you) should work find for a fresh installation of Windows 8.1 without a required upgrade.
  3. Purchase. Purchase the English Download for $119 if you don’t want to wait for a DVD to arrive. This will give you a WindowsSetupBox.exe file and a license number. There are three benefits to this option:
    • This will provide you with an ISO image that you can burn to DVD.
    • This procedure will also give you the option to create a Windows 8.1 Installation USB flash drive.
    • You can also use this option to upgrade an existing Windows 7 computer (without creating a DVD or USB).
  4. Run Windows Setup. When the purchase process is completed, you’ll have a license number and a Windows Setup file called WindowsSetupBox.exe that you can run. This will actually initiate the download of the full Windows 8.1 installation software.
  5. Burn DVD. Assuming you have access to a computer, burn the ISO image to a DVD. This can be used later for reinstallation, repair, or recovery.
  6. Create USB. Having a Windows 8.1 installation USB flash drive is handy. With it, you can startup your computer to USB for installation similar to using a DVD but typically much faster.
  7. Choosing Upgrade or Install. If you perform an upgrade from Windows 7, your programs, settings, and personal data will be retained. However, any malware, viruses, or other unnecessary files will be retained. So, it may be preferable to backup your files and then startup the computer using the DVD or USB (described above), then format the hard drive (erasing everything) and perform a fresh clean installation of Windows 8.1. This will make your computer like new as if it were purchased from the store.
  8. Begin Installation. Assuming you want to do the fresh installation, and you have backed up your data, start the computer with the DVD or USB. You will be walked through the setup process. If you’re on a Dell computer, you will need to press F12 at startup to display the boot up options. Select the DVD drive from the list if you’re using the DVD.
  9. Upgrade or Custom. At some point you’ll be asked if you’d like to perform an upgrade or custom installation. Choosing custom is helpful because you can format the hard drive and start completely fresh. In doing so, you’ll be presented with a window showing your current drive partitions. There may be a 100MB system reserved partition for Windows 7 and another partition for the operating system. In the advanced mode you can delete these partitions. Then click New to start again. This time, Windows 8.1 will create a 350MB System Reserved partition and then the remaining drive space can be used for the Windows 8.1 installation.
  10. Settings. When you get to a Settings window, you can choose Use express settings.
  11. Sign in to your Microsoft account – NOT. You’ll be asked to sign in using your Microsoft account. This appears to be a requirement of using Windows 8.1. However, it’s not necessary. Don’t click on the Don’t have an account option because you’ll be required to create an account. Instead, click on the option to Create a new account (found under Don’t have an account?). You’ll be taken to the Create a Microsoft account screen. At the bottom of the screen, in faint thin small letters, you’ll see an option to Sign in without a Microsoft account. Choose that option.
  12. Your Account. If you’ve followed the instructions to this point, you should reach a Your account screen. Enter a user name and password just as you might have with the previous versions of Windows.
  13. General Windows Setup. You can now continue with the general Windows setup instructions.