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Last week Windows 8.1 was released to the Windows Store. We were told that everyone who had Windows 8.0, you could upgrade no problem. Personally I saw the updates for 8.1 and wasn’t impressed. Getting the start button (not the menu, just the button) with a few other things was not terribly impressive to me as the big fix. I installed the preview on my Surface and just didn’t blow me away with all the hype others were pouring into it. But when I saw it was available, I figured I’d go ahead and install it.

That was until the last two days. Microsoft decided to drop a bombshell on those of us who followed a popular way to install Windows that blocks us from upgrading without going through a lot of pain. Since Windows 7 I’ve been installing my OS using the boot to VHD model, something Scott Hanselman showed you how to do. Why? I like the option of being able to backup a single file before making major changes such as installing an OS update. It also makes is very simple if you want to have multiple boot OS options.

However, it appears Microsoft has elected to throw a curveball and slip in a new limitation of this install option… one not listed on any existing limitation list on their site. They now won’t let you upgrade a Windows 8 install to 8.1 if you boot to VHD. Nope… you get this beautiful little message only after downloading the monstrous update:

There are quite a few upset customers in the forums. Some have posted solutions. I’ve yet to see an official reason as to why this limitation is now suddenly in place. Unfortunately they aren’t working for me after fighting with it for an hour and change. I keep having issues as the OS repair fails and updating the boot configuration with BCDBOOT keeps failing no matter what I do.

What’s comical about this is I was able to update a Windows 8 VM running on a MacBook Air just fine… go figure. So far I’m not seeing a compelling reason to invest much more time to get this updated.

Great work Redmond, great way to treat your customers... no warnings... no announcements. Just make a change and let people find out on their own.

October 22, 2013
3:06 PM

It appears there was a mention of this limitation, as a commenter pointed out on this page in TechNet. Shame of me for not realizing this before I went this route... still... unfortunately it isn't mentioned in other limitation lists of this approach. Very disappointing.

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