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As of this morning, Windows 8.1 Update 1 should be officially available if open up the new Metro-style PC Settings and click “Update and recovery.” If the update hasn’t officially rolled out to your part of the world yet, feel free to use the direct download links listed below.

Microsoft has officially announced that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will roll out on April 8. You can install the update today, however, by downloading the files directly from the Windows Update servers. This is slightly naughty, but the files are legitimate and final — these are the exact same update files that you would get if you waited until April 8.

How do you do that, for free? Just follow these simple instructions.

How to download and install Windows 8.1 Update 1

Installing Windows 8.1 Update 1

As always, we have to preface this with the usual disclaimer: Downloading Windows updates from anyone other than Microsoft is risky. At the very least, you should ensure that the SHA hash of the downloaded file matches by using the Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Verifier (a free tool). If you have any important documents on your computer, you should back them up, too (this should be an unnecessary precaution, though; Update 1 is just a bunch of patches, rather than a complete reinstallation).

So, there are two routes to obtaining Windows 8.1 Update 1. First, you can try the official download links from Microsoft, which worked at the time of publishing. If they don’t work, you may find some working third-party download links in the comments below, or you can search the internet for the files yourself.

Updated: It’s now April 8, so if these download links don’t work, just wait for the update to appear on the official Windows Update.

Official Windows Update download links:

If those links go down (unlikely), the files are almost certainly available from other file lockers, or from your favorite torrent index — just search for KB2919442, KB2919355, etc.

Once you’ve downloaded Update 1, you will have six separate patches that need to be installed in a very specific order. Your computer will need to reboot a few times during the process.

  1. KB2919442
  2. KB2932046
  3. KB2919355
  4. KB2938439
  5. KB2937592

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Desktop

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Desktop. Note how Metro apps can now be minimized to the taskbar. There’s no sign of ‘Update 1′ in the system info window, interestingly.

And that should be it! If you’re a mouse-and-keyboard user, you will find that Windows 8.1 Update 1 makes the Metro interface a lot more palatable. Whether this will move you to actually use the new Start screen, I’m not so sure. Unless there’s a Metro-style app that youreally want to use, you will probably still find yourself on the Desktop, using a third-party app to bring back the Windows 7-style Start menu. Still, on the rare occasion that you find yourself thrust into the new Metro interface, Update 1 makes the whole experience feel a little less you’re being brutally plucked out of one operating system and unceremoniously dumped in another. So that’s good.

On the Desktop side of things, Update 1 doesn’t do a whole lot. I’m sure there will be some small, useful tweaks, but the main changes appear to be better support for high-PPI displays, and audio/video files will now be opened in Photo Viewer and Media Player respectively, rather than bouncing you into Metro. For the 23 people using Windows 8.1 on a tablet, Update 1 adds a Search button to the Start screen, and some of the stock Metro apps have been updated/improved. Thrilling stuff. Microsoft’s hunt for Windows 8 market share continues.