As some Windows 8.0/RT 8.0 users continue to struggle trying to update to 8.1, Microsoft Relevant Products/Services has released a new automatic update aimed at solving the problem. Microsoft reportedly is first testing a patch for Windows RT in certain markets and could roll out patches for both versions to other markets soon.

"This (Windows RT) pilot program is an example of ways we're experimenting to help ensure more of our customers benefit from a continuously improving Windows experience," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows. "Similar to how the Windows 8.1 update process works today, the pilot program will automatically update consumer Windows 8 and Windows RT machines for free to Windows 8.1 update and Windows RT 8.1 update in select markets."

Patching the Patch

Initially, Microsoft made the Windows 8.1 update available through the Windows Store. The problem was that not all users were able to get the update to install, and once the installation failed there was no reliable work-around. This update should fix the problem by setting up users' PCs or devices so they successfully upgrade automatically to Windows 8.1 through Windows Update, Thurrott said. Microsoft has said that if Windows 8 customers don't update to the latest platform they won't receive security Relevant Products/Services updates and platform fixes.

Users who want to update now should check the Windows Store to see if it's available. Alternatively, users can download the RT version of Windows 8.1 from the Microsoft Support Web site and manually install it. However, users of Windows 8.0 and Windows RT 8.0 will first have to install update 2871389 before applying the Windows 8.1 update,.

Not Exactly Thriving

Despite the improvements made in Windows 8.1 and the efforts to get it out to all Windows 8 users, Windows 8 in general remains unpopular. Microsoft has recognized that and is pushing forward quickly with release plans for Windows 9, which reportedly will bring back the Windows Start Menu.

Net Applications found in its June 2014 operating system survey that Windows 8 and 8.1 combined dropped from May's 12.6 percent user share to a 12.5 percent share. While Windows 8 lost user share, Windows 7 gained another half percentage point, to a 50.6 percent share. In the last six months, Windows 7, which first hit the market in 2009, has grown 50 percent more than Windows 8.

What's Next?

Although work on fixing the Windows 8.1 update process reportedly pushed back work on Windows 9, Microsoft is said to be focusing on making a public preview of the OS code-named Threshold available this fall. If speculation is correct, a more desktop-oriented Windows 9 may be available as early as April 2015.

Windows 9 will be another reworking of Windows, but instead of making it more suited for mobile Relevant Products/Services devices, the main OS will once again be engineered for PCs with keyboards and mice. Besides bringing back the Start Menu, it may be updated to allow for Metro applications to run in a similar way as older Windows programs.