Windows 8.1 was the first major update to the Windows 8 operating system. It includes a number of new features, user interface changes, and bug fixes, and is free for all Windows 8 users.

Originally code-named Windows Blue, the Windows 8.1 update is in many ways equivalent to the service packs that were available in previous versions of Windows like Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Microsoft logo on a brown wall

Windows 8.1 Release Date and Updates

Windows 8.1 was released on October 17th, 2013.

Windows 8.1 Update, released on April 8, 2014, is currently the most recent major update to Windows 8.

Windows 11 is currently the most recent version of Windows available.

Microsoft isn’t planning a Windows 8.2 or Windows 8.1 Update 2 update. If new features are made available, they’ll be pushed alongside other updates on Patch Tuesday.

How to Download Updates in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 Download

Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro are free updates to those respective editions of Windows 8, but the update package isn't available as a standalone download.

To upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 for free, visit the Microsoft Store from the Windows 8 computer.

Microsoft no longer offers Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 for consumer purchase.

How to Upgrade Your Computer From Windows 8 to Windows 11

Windows 8.1 Changes

A number of new features and changes were introduced in Windows 8.1.

One of the most notable changes is the ability to configure Windows to boot straight to the desktop, skipping the Start screen completely.

Below are some additional changes you might notice:

  • Introduces a Start button (not a Start Menu).
  • Allows booting directly to the Desktop.
  • Improves integrated search.
  • Includes Internet Explorer 11.
  • Updates PC Settings to include everything found in Control Panel.
  • Allows greater customization of Start screen app tiles.
  • Adds several additional personalization options.
  • Improves built-in apps.
  • Includes support for 3D printing.

More About Windows 8.1

The following tutorials may be particularly useful if you're new to Windows 8 as of the 8.1 updates, or if you're having some trouble during your upgrade to Windows 8.1:

  • How to Clean Install Windows 8.1
  • How to Install Windows 8.1 From a USB Device
  • How to Open Command Prompt in Windows 8.1
  • How to Open Control Panel in Windows 8.1
  • How to Shut Down Windows 8.1