Microsoft Windows 10 may be around the corner, but the company is still issuing Windows 8.1 updates on a fairly regular basis.If you’re already using Windows 8.1, and aren’t sure you’re running the latest system update, the easiest way to check and download it is to visit PC Settings (the new Control Panel, available from the right-hand menu bar) and click “Update and recovery.” There is also the option to download the latest Windows 8.1 Update as standalone files, if you want to archive them or perform an offline or enterprise installation.
To continue receiving security updates, you need to make sure you’re running the latest version of the OS. If you do that, skip ahead to the section at the end of the story with tips on how to make the most of it.
If you want to download the standalone files, though, read on.
As always, we have to preface this with the usual disclaimer: Downloading Windows updates using unconventional methods 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; updates are just a bunch of patches, rather than a complete reinstallation).
Use the following links to download the right version of Windows 8.1 for your computer’s architecture (probably 64-bit, unless you have an older computer or a tablet).
Official Windows Update download links: Alternatively, if you don’t like direct downloads, you can always hit up the official Windows Update website, which always points you to the latest version, and follow the instructions there.Once you’ve downloaded the initial 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.If you’re a mouse-and-keyboard person, you will find that the latest version of Windows 8.1 makes the Metro interface more palatable.Whether this will move you to actually use the new Start screen is a different question.Unless there’s a Metro-style app that you 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.