When Microsoft offered the Windows 8 upgrade at a low price, I bought a copy, but then held off on installing it. On Friday, I finally got around to updating my Windows 7 desktop to Windows 8. When I tried to update from 8 to 8.1 I got the dreaded 0×80240031 error and the update would not install.
I tried the various fixes: downloading all the Windows 8 updates, updating all my drivers, checking my disk for errors, sacrificing a squirrel to Microsoft and so on. Nothing worked. I did notice that the problem was the download-it would just fail at about the 50% mark. The solution seemed obvious: get an .iso of the Windows 8.1 upgrade and use that. If you have a Windows 8 key, here is how to get (legally) a Winoows 8.1 .iso or USB upgrade, courtesy of PC World. Once you have the .iso (or USB), there is still a catch: while the upgrade from 8 to 8.1 is free, the Windows 8 keys will not work with the Windows 8.1 .iso. Fortunately, there is a legal work-around. Microsoft lists generic keys that can be used to install Windows here. Windows 8.1 Pro is GCRJD-8NW9H-F2CDX-CCM8D-9D6T9. When doing the upgrade, use that generic key to do the install, then go and activate Windows using your legal Windows 8 key. Problem solved. Advice to Microsoft: since Windows 8.1 is free to Windows 8 owners, have Windows 8.1 accept Windows 8 keys. Or fix the damn install problem.
Now, suppose that you want to upgrade your Windows 7 PC to Windows 8.1 but you do not want to re-install all your software and redo your settings. Sadly, Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 makes that impossible. But, you can go from 7 to 8 and then to 8.1 while keeping all your programs in place. If you have the Windows 8 upgrade, just go from 7 to 8 and then to 8.1, choosing the option to keep your programs. If you only own an 8.1 disk and want to keep your programs, you can do this: get a Windows 8 upgrade (see above about how to get that) and use this generic key for Windows 8 Pro: NG4HW-VH26C-733KW-K6F98-J8CK4. Then use your Windows 8.1 disk to upgrade to 8.1 using your legal key. Problem solved.
- This is for Windows 8 Pro.
- The generic keys are from Microsoft and while they will allow an install, they will not activate Windows. Buy a key.