Windows 8.1 Preview goes live but early adopters not happy

By Swapnil Mathur | Published on Jan 01 1970
Windows 8.1 Preview goes live but early adopters not happy

Windows 8.1 Preview has finally been made available for download, but turns out, its not available to everyone.

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage last night at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to kickstart the company’s BUILD Conference, just 8 months after the last one. Windows 8.1 was announced at the event as an incremental upgrade to Windows 8 which adds many new (some would say, much needed) features to the OS. The company also announced that the preview version of the update would be available for download immediately from their website.

The announcement included one particularly exciting news- Facebook and Flipboard will be coming to Windows 8 as apps. Other features of the update such as being able to create more than just two ‘Snap-in’ windows (and being able to determine their sizes), deeper SkyDrive integration and the Start button are all features we’ve known about. The update also brings with it two new sizes for LiveTiles and the much needed “Boot to Desktop” option. This is just a small glimpse of the new features being brought in by Windows 8.1, which probably explains why so many people jumped the gun to download the update, leading to the fiasco that followed.

To install the Windows 8.1 Preview on a Windows 8 machine, users first need to download a system patch. Once the patch is installed, users will need to reboot their system after which a prompt to download the Windows 8.1 Preview from the Windows Store will appear. Although this is a fairly simple process, it went frustratingly wrong for a lot of people.

Many people who downloaded and ran the update reported getting the “Update is not applicable to your computer” error, meaning none of these people could update to Windows 8.1. The official support forums were flooded by requests for an answer, but one wasn’t presented till this morning. Turns out, the update works only on those Windows 8 machines whose base installation language is one of the 13 pre-defined ones mentioned on the official FAQ page. Interestingly, Microsoft has said that some machines that use the newer Atom 32-bit processors, such as the HP Envy X2 machines, would be incompatible with the update.

Microsoft also plans on releasing the Windows 8.1 Preview as ISO image files, but those are not yet available. The Microsoft site does state that the ISO files will also be available only in those original 13 languages, meaning it’s likely that even with the ISO file, some users may not be able to install the Windows 8.1 Preview.

The sad part is that this Preview build will be unavailable to those whose base installation language isn’t part of the 13, until Microsoft comes out with a fix. What we can’t seem to wrap our heads around is why Microsoft would release a patch that was so selectively compatible. It’s not just PC users facing the issue, but also those using the RT and Pro versions of the Surface tablet, and there are even some users who are facing the same error even though their version of Windows 8 is in the language supported by the patch.

You can try and get the patch to run on your system, but if it doesn’t work, then we strongly recommend you wait till Microsoft releases a working solution.

Swapnil Mathur

Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor

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