Windows 8.1 Preview: An Enterprise Call to Action

With the announcement of the availability of the Windows 8.1 Preview , and the release of the Windows 8.1 Preview ISO images this morning, we would like to encourage all organizations to evaluate this new release, including all the new features described in What’s New in Windows 8.1, as well as all the smaller enhancements and refinements throughout the product. We look forward to receiving your feedback as we begin this important part of the Windows 8.1 release process.

Remember that Windows 8.1 is still in development, and as such there is always some risk involved when using it, so testing on lab and other non-critical computers is recommended. For broad deployments we recommend that you target final Windows 8.1 release later this year.

In preparation for those broad deployments, we also would like to encourage you to evaluate the essential new deployment tools that have been updated for Windows 8.1 Preview:

There are a few different ways you can install the Windows 8.1 Preview release to begin your evaluation:

If you have…

Consider these options

Computers running Windows 8 , Windows 8 Pro (retail- or OEM-activated), or Windows RT

Following the steps on the Windows 8.1 Preview website to install an update to enable the preview installation via the Windows Store, then install from the Windows Store.

Computers running earlier operating systems, or ones to be used for a clean (bare metal) installation

Download the Windows 8.1 ISO file. Use this with MDT 2013 or System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2 to refresh existing computers, or burn to a DVD or copy to a USB key for simple installation.

Computers running Windows 8 Pro, volume activated

Download the Windows 8.1 ISO file. Use this media to either:

  • Perform an in-place update of existing Windows 8 Pro installations
  • Refresh existing computers using MDT 2013 or System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2
  • Burn to a DVD or copy to a USB key for simple installation

Computers running Windows 8 Enterprise

Wait for the availability of the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview ISO, which should be available in the coming weeks. Watch for an announcement on this blog when it is available.

It’s also important to note that while computers running Windows 8.1 Preview can be updated to the final Windows 8.1 release, this update process will only migrate the data on the device. All applications (from the Windows Store or desktop applications) will need to be reinstalled as part of this process. To illustrate:

If you are currently running…

Going to…

This will migrate:

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 Preview

All data, settings, and applications

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 final release

All data, settings, and applications

Windows 8.1 Preview

Windows 8.1 final release

Only data

For those using earlier operating systems, the OS refresh processes implemented by the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and System Center Configuration Manager (or other similar tools) can be used to automate the move to Windows 8.1 while preserving data and settings, and can also install any needed applications as part of that process.

For more information about the Windows 8.1 Preview, please visit the Windows 8.1 Preview website or the Windows 8 Zone on the Springboard Series on TechNet. Thank you for your efforts, and we look forward to hearing what you think about this exciting new release.