The Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update was released 8 April, bringing with it a host of new features for Windows 8.1 users. Better task switching and a more keyboard friendly Start Screen are just two.

The update is free and available to anyone running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, and like the update from Windows 8 to 8.1, you'll get this update from the Windows Store or automatically via the usual update channels on your PC.

The system requirements for Windows 8.1 Update are virtually the same as the requirements for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, and if your PC is already running either you should be fine. It isn't a drastic overhaul of the OS, but there are changes. 

A good reason to update, or maybe two...

Your desktop becomes more important again if you are using Windows 8.1 Update on a laptop as it automatically boots to the desktop for all non-tablet users, and Microsoft is going to require all Windows 8.1 users to have Windows 8.1 Update installed if they plan to continue to download any security or feature updates to the operating system.

Preparing for the update

For the majority of Windows 8.1 users, you will receive the update automatically. If you are still on Windows 8, you can get the Windows 8.1 Update via the Windows Store on 8 April as well.

You shouldn't have to worry, but it is probably best to make sure your important files are backed up and ready to go. If you are updating from Windows 8 your existing Windows Store apps don't come with you when you update to Windows 8.1 Update. But once the update is complete, you can reinstall all of these apps at once, or just the ones you want if you fancy using the install as a chance to have a spring clean.

Microsoft says that while download and installation times vary from about 30 minutes to several hours, depending on your internet connection speed, it all happens in the background until everything is ready to go.

When it is ready your system will restart and be unusable for about 20 minutes to an hour. If you've got that important PowerPoint presentation in the works, make sure you save it before you walk away from your computer.

If you are coming from Windows 8, you'll need about 3GB of space to install Windows 8.1 Update and Microsoft recommends you connect your computer to a power source and an internet connection while you do the update.

The Windows 8.1 Update update

Go to the Start Screen, tap on the Store tile and then click on the Windows 8.1 Update update when it becomes available. Tap or click to download and off you go.

Unless you really want to feel like you are in control of everything, opt for the express settings. Run through the update and you are done.

The end result and noticeable changes to look out for

Windows 8.1 Update does bring some new features, and some noticeable changes to the behaviour of your PC. Previously on a Windows 8.1 powered tablet, closing an app would take you back to the Start Screen, now closing the app will take you to the previously used app.

READ: Windows 8.1 Update: What's new

For desktop users there are more changes to default behaviour. After the Window 8.1 Update your computer will boot to the Desktop instead of the start screen, closing an app takes you to the previously used app and closing all apps takes you to the desktop. Pictures, music and video files all open with desktop applications rather than the Modern app. 

What you don't get

You won't get the new Start menu that was announced at the Build conference  at the start of April. That, says Microsoft, will come in a future further update. Yes, you will have to update the update at a later time.