When the 8.1 preview is available, Windows 8 and Windows RT users will receive a Windows Update notification. That update will trigger the new bits to show up in the Windows Store, where potential testers will be able to read the description and choose whether or not to install.

Once the final versions of Windows 8.1 are available, after their release to manufacturing, those who have downloaded the preview will get the same Windows Update plus Windows Store notification. While the user’s data and accounts will be preserved if and when they choose to install the free, final 8.1 release, all their apps must be reinstalled.

Even if testers opt instead to roll their devices back to Windows 8 after installing the preview bits, they still will have to reinstall their apps once they move to the RTM version of Windows 8.1.

Windows 8 users who do not install the preview build and opt instead to go straight from Windows 8/Windows RT to Windows 8.1 will not have to reinstall their apps. All settings, data and apps will carry over. Users will be able to decide when and if they want to move from Windows 8 and Windows RT to the 8.1 versions.

Niehaus, a spokesperson for Microsoft, characterized the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade as “a little better” than how Microsoft handled the Windows 8 test build to RTM upgrade. A Microsoft spokesperson said the Windows 8 to 8.1 upgrade would be “comparable” to the Windows 7 to Windows 8 upgrade, in terms of how the upgrade dealt with user settings, data and apps.

Niehaus also told session attendees that Microsoft expects to have a reduced footprint size for Windows 8.1 as compared to Windows 8. He said the team has been working on removing old components, temporary files and improving NTFS compression to free up more space on users’ machines. He noted that 4 GB of free space will be needed to install the Windows 8.1 preview builds. And he said that installation of Windows 8.1 will not result in the replacement of the recovery partition in Windows 8.

“If you deleted it, [8.1] won’t replace it,” Niehaus said.

So, let’s recap… If you plan to check out the Windows 8.1 Preview, you WILL have to reinstall your apps whether you move on to the final 8.1 release or go back to 8.0.  If you wait for the final release of 8.1 and move from 8.0 to the final release you WILL NOT have to reinstall your apps.

CCC edited the original story for content.  This story originally appeared at ZDNet 
under the headline "Microsoft goes public with Windows 8.1 upgrade policies."

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