So this happened. Windows 8.1 was officially released yesterday on the Windows Store, and the new operating system also hit retail store shelves today as a boxed retail package.

Users that are already running Windows 8 can now get the upgrade by launching the Store.

But there was speculation that Microsoft may also launch as standalone version of the new OS that would allow users to deploy and install Windows 8.1 without turning to the Window Store. As things stand, this probably will not happen.

A Microsoft employee confirmed this on the official community forums:

“Windows 8.1 will not be released as a separate, free download. If you are running a Windows 8 Device, the Windows Store is the best way to install. We should not think of Windows 8.1 as a service pack, its much more comprehensive and uses the Windows setup engine to install.”

Retail box versions of Windows 8.1 should be available in retail outlets by now, so that is another option. But in terms of downloads, the new operating system will be exclusively available from the Windows Store.

There have been some reports of users not being able to get the upgrade from the Windows Store, though, with some encountering a few installation errors.

Microsoft is said to be investigating these as of this writing.

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  • Pratyush Nalam

    This is stupid

    • Fahad Ali

      Well, IT subscribers can get it, TechNet and MSDN guys. But on the whole this is a needless step back. Whatever happened to the grand old notion of providing users choice and freedom.

      I guess some, not all, people will scout the dark nook and corners of the web for the final ISO files. But that’s how things are, I guess.

      • Pratyush Nalam

        Common man won’t have MSDN/Technet. But I get your point though.

        People who have 3 PCs at home (say) will find it irritating to download 3 gigs every time! May be not a problem in the US but there are insane bandwidth constraints in India!

        • Fahad Ali

          Yup, as are in many other parts of the world, I agree.

  • Geffery Curtis

    no one using windows 8 will upgrade because the store upgrade doesn’t work tried all day yesterday with no success

    • The_Norseman

      Not true. Just upgraded my desktop and it went smoothly. But I did it after midnight when demand on their servers is lighter.

      • Ray C

        I just upgraded a few people with no problem, but my work laptop would not work. I’m guessing I have Windows 8 Enterprise

  • Misterbear Fapp

    I installed Windows 8.1 yesterday on my laptop while we were shut down at work. The download went very smoothly, and the install was completed without a hitch. I’ve been holding off on installing on the new desktop I just built because I wanted to do a clean install. Well, it seems I waited for nothing. Now I’ll have to install the first to get the second. I won’t even be able to make a backup copy. What are they thinking? This is completely dense.