Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update is now live on Microsoft's Store for Windows 8 users.
Windows 8.1, which is the latest iteration of Microsoft's desktop and tablet OS, brings several new features, changes and additions including desktop wallpapers for the Start screen, an overhauled Search, a new multitasking experience with the ability to snap apps in variable sizes and the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE 11), in addition to bringing back the Start menu tip in Desktop mode and a boot to Desktop mode option.
Also see: A detailed list of changes that Windows 8.1 brings
The update can be downloaded free of charge through the Windows Store. You'll get a prompt to download the update via a notification in the Store and can install it by following the instructions on the screen. Although, you'll be able to retain apps, legacy Windows programs and, files and settings after the update, it's still advisable to take a back-up of your data and keep product codes handy in case you need to reinstall programs.
If you're running the Windows 8.1 Preview and had updated to the Preview through the Store, you'd be able to upgrade to the final version in a similar manner. However, you'll need to reinstall apps though your files will remain unaffected.
In case you performed a clean install of the Windows 8.1 Preview OS, you'll need to go back to Windows 8 and then upgrade, unless you're ready to shell out some cash for buying a new Windows 8.1 license.
Users running Windows 7 on their PCs will be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1 but they would only be able to retain their files and will need to reinstall desktop apps including Microsoft Office.
Upgrading form Windows XP and Windows Vista is not supported and you will need to do a clean install of the Windows 8.1 OS on systems running these legacy operating systems.
Microsoft had earlier announced that Windows 8.1 would be available at an estimated retail price of $119.99, while Windows 8.1 Pro will be available for $199.99, similar to the pricing of Windows 8.
Users who buy a device that comes with Windows 8.1 would be able to upgrade to the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack for $99.99 in the US, while Windows 8.1 Pro users will be able to buy Windows Media Center for $9.99.