Following last year’s release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has rolled out Windows 8.1 Update, also known as KB 2919355. It’s another free update – essentially a ‘service pack’ but with some quality of life improvements too. These include booting to the desktop rather than Start screen, and easier access to search and shut down options on the Start screen for users without a touch screen. Indeed, one of the aims of this update has been to make Windows 8.1 more accessible to those using a traditional keyboard and mouse – previous versions have been too quick to embrace tablet users whilst neglecting most regular desktop users. The update also reflects the renaming of Microsoft’s SkyDrive product to OneDrive and now uses the latter name throughout.
Most users will get the update automatically through Windows Update, but if you haven’t already, then you can also install it manually if you wish to.
Step 1: Check if you already have the update installed
It’s possible that you already have Windows 8.1 Update installed, as Windows Update may have installed it for you. The best way to tell is have a look at the Start screen; if you have power off and search buttons next to your user portrait in the top right, then you already have it – see the screenshot above. You’ll also see that all of the references to SkyDrive are now OneDrive. If the user portrait doesn’t have any buttons to the right of it, then you need to install the update.
Step 2: Run Windows Update
Running Windows Update should install Windows 8.1 Update automatically, and this is the way Microsoft recommends. You may need to repeat the process several times: run Windows Update, reboot, run Windows Update again, reboot again, and so on until all important updates are installed. Eventually the KB 2919355 update should be offered to you, but this doesn’t always happen.
Step 3: Check that you are actually running Windows 8.1
It’s possible that the reason why Windows Update isn’t offering the KB 2919355 update is that you’re still running plain vanilla Windows 8, and not Windows 8.1. In which case, once you’ve completed step two and installed all of the updates available to you, open the Microsoft Store app from the Start screen. Windows 8.1 should be offered to you – install it, reboot, and then repeat step two again. Hopefully KB 2919355 will eventually be offered to you.
Step 4: Manually install the KB 2919355 update
If none of the above steps have worked, you can manually download Windows 8.1 Update from the Microsoft Download Centre. Here’s the link for 32 bit systems, and this is the link for 64 bit systems. Make sure you select the ‘Windows8.1-KB2919355-x$$.msu’ file when it offers you multiple files – the $$ will be either 86 or 64 depending on whether you selected the 32 or 64 bit version. It’s a big download, with the 32 bit edition clocking in at over 300 megabytes and the 64 bit edition at almost 700 megabytes. Run the installer, reboot, and you should have the update installed.
I had to resort to using step 4. Weirdly, afterwards the KB 2919355 update showed up in Windows Update after I had installed it, but not before.
I haven’t used Windows 8.1 Update much since installing it, mainly because I only run Windows in a VirtualBox virtual machine on my Mac, as and when I need to. But from my limited exposure to it, I’ve found it a little bit easier to use than before. Eventually, I’m sure the update will be mandatory but I think there are advantages to installing it now rather than waiting.