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Small biz admins squawk over Windows 8.1 updates

Complain they must point each device to the Windows Store to download the update

October 18, 2013 02:42 PM ET

Computerworld - Small business IT administrators were angry yesterday at Microsoft for making them update each Windows 8 machine individually to Windows 8.1, a tedious task that requires them to point each device at the Windows Store and download a 3GB file.

One of the most common questions Thursday during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session hosted by several of Microsoft's Windows developers and product managers was why the Redmond, Wash. company made it so difficult for customers to update multiple machines.

"It looks like people who install Windows 8 Enterprise or Windows 8 Pro (if using a KMS key) can't upgrade to 8.1 in place," said darthgooey during the AMA yesterday. "I don't particularly want to re-image my workstation or all the tablets we deployed last spring. Will 8.1 be available as a Windows Update like prior OS' service packs?"

"No Enterprise/KMS/MSDN etc. support is ridiculous," added SooInappropriate. "I'm not doing clean installs of OS's to get this update. We will standardize off Microsoft software faster than you can blink if this is the 'new' model."

While Microsoft responded to the latter question, acknowledging both during the AMA and in a support document published yesterday that volume license installations weren't supported via the Windows Store and that installation media was available on the Volume Licensing Service Center, that didn't qualm others' concerns.

Firms that weren't volume license customers -- small businesses, in other words, since most larger companies sign such agreements -- were still puzzled, then frustrated.

"Microsoft has made it known there will be no .iso file for Windows 8.1 available to the general public," said Andre Da Costa, a Microsoft MVP and moderator on the Windows peer-to-peer support forums, in a Thursday message posted to one such forum. "'Consumers' here really means any copies of Windows 8 that weren't purchased through Microsoft's Volume Licensing programs. So a small business with 20 PCs to upgrade, for example, will have to do them one at a time via the Windows Store -- so that's 20 separate downloads."

Windows 8.1 updates weighed in between 2.8GB and 3.5GB.

De Costa, the system administrator for a high school in Jamaica, made it clear to confused users that updates to Windows 8.1 were not going to be easy for smaller organizations and businesses. "The Windows Store is the only way for consumers (non-enterprise, non-IT Pro) to download and install Windows 8.1," said De Costa. "No .iso [files] will be made available, so each device needs to be updated individually via the Windows Store."

Image files with the ".iso" extension are commonly used by businesses to load standardized disk images onto their PCs and other devices.

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