With Windows 8.1, Microsoft both polishes up the software, removing some of the illogicalities, and adds some new features. It makes for a smoother computing experience in general, and for those users who want to bypass the new-style, tablet-friendly Start screen at startup, Windows 8.1 gives them that choice. It also gives them better SkyDrive cloud storage integration and a new, more-standards-compliant browser version, Internet Explorer 11. But the .1 version number increment should be taken to heart— pf6x9j1 the release is not a drastic departure from Windows 8, maintaining its two modes—new tablet style alongside the traditional Windows desktop.
The new operating system version is available in the form Microsoft calls GA, for "general availability" starting on October 17 as a free update for existing Windows 8 users. Starting October 18 it's available for retail purchase in the form of installer discs or software downloads from the Microsoft Store website, with pricing of $119.99 for Windows 8.1 and $199.99 for Windows 8.1 Pro.
Windows 8.1 Start Mouse Cortisol ELISA Kit
More start screen visual options
Return of the start button
Learn Windows Faster
Boot to desktop option
Help and tips
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(Don't confuse the Microsoft Store website with the Windows app store built into Windows 8 and 8.1, or with the company's brick-and-mortar Microsoft retail store competition to the Apple Stores!). You might also have access to it via an MSDN account, if you're a developer.
Windows 8.1 Installation Scenarios There are several scenarios for Windows 8.1 installation depending on the PC you want to install it on. Here are the possible choices:
An existing Windows 8 machine or tablet
A PC or tablet running Windows 8.1 Preview
A Windows 7 PC
A PC running Windows Vista, XP or an even earlier OS version
A PC with no functioning OS
And for the systems with an existing Windows installation running, you have two further options:
Windows 8.1 (regular) vs. Windows 8.1 Pro
32-bit vs. 64-bit edition
The Pro version opens business capabilities like disk encryption and network domain joining and the ability to install Windows Media Center. As to the bit-width option, at this point it makes most sense to go with 64-bit, as all contemporary processors are designed for 64-bit data paths. If your PC currently is running a 32-bit operating system however, you'll only be able to do a clean install—i.e., not and upgrade installation that keeps any data or programs—if you choose 64-bit. Note that the system requirements for Windows 8.1 are identical to those for Windows 8; in fact 8.1 has a smaller disk footprint than 8.0!