The first update in what Microsoft promises will be a yearly release cycle for their operating systems has arrived on your Windows 8 desktop, ultrabook, and tablet. If you’re ready to install Windows 8.1, here’s what you need to do.If you’re running Windows 8 already, the Windows 8.1 update couldn’t be simpler. Microsoft made sure the experience is a close to updating an app as possible, right down to making it available in the Microsoft Store (alongside actual apps).If you’re not running Windows 8, your experience will be different and you’ll need to follow a different set of instructions.Meanwhile, if you’re running the Windows 8.1 developer preview, you’re really better off switching back to Windows 8 in order to complete the install, unless you have a product key for Windows 8.1. Having a product key for Windows 8 will not be enough for that update to happen smoothly.For the sake of uniformity, we’ll be showing the install process from Windows 8 Pro.The first thing you will need to do is make sure your system is completely up to date. Windows 8 does a pretty good job of forcing updates on you or installing them when you aren’t busy, but if you’re coming from a clean install or you haven’t had your machine on in a while you’ll need the latest updates before the Microsoft Store will show you the path to 8.1.Head to your Control Panel and go to Windows Updates. Install updates if you have them waiting to be installed. Your PC will likely reboot if you have updates waiting. If you don’t have anything waiting, just close this window.Now, head to the start page and open the Microsoft Store. You can ignore any apps that claim to have an update ready for you at this point. Those same apps will be ready to update once the installation is complete. Most of those apps are updating in anticipation for Windows 8 anyway, unless it has been a while since you’ve updated your Modern UI apps.In the Featured Apps spot you should now see a great big icon that is prompting you to upgrade to Windows 8.1. This is a free upgrade, so click the large block here and make sure you have about 45 minutes set aside for your computer to do its thing.Microsoft’s information page for Windows 8.1 should now appear. It will explain that the system update will download in the background, and that you can keep working while the upgrade downloads. This file is 3.63GB, so how fast it downloads will depend on your internet connection.If you’re ready to go, click the download button in the top right and you’ll be taken to the downloads page. If you’re on a portable device, now is a great time to make sure you are connected to power. Finally, if you have some things you need to finish up on your computer, you can close this and go back to what you were doing during the download process.Once the file has downloaded, the PC will reboot and start the update process. Depending on your setup, the PC may reboot more than once as the upgrade is applied. You’ll see the same full screen messages in plain white text with a rotating color background that happened when you first installed Windows 8 when the process reaches completion. You may be asked to sign back in to your Microsoft account or to select your color preferences again, but these are signs that Windows 8.1 has been successfully installed.When the Start Page reappears, you have reached the end of the adventure with your documents and applications intact.Not a fan of Windows 8.1? Ubuntu 13.10 is available today as well!