Microsoft releases disk images for Windows 8.1 beta upgrades

Microsoft Thursday released its Windows 8.1 beta as a disk image, making it more convenient to upgrade multiple devices within an organization or enterprise.

Windows 8.1 Preview launched Wednesday, but was initially only available from Microsoft’s app market, the Windows Store. Each Windows 8 or Windows RT PC or tablet had to individually download the massive upgrade from the store.

By downloading a disk image, then burning it to DVD or storing it on a USB flash drive, users can upgrade machines or devices faster or when they are offline.

The .iso files range in size from 2.7GB to 3.9GB, depending on the language and whether the upgrade is 32- or 64-bit. Microsoft has made disk images available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

Once downloaded, the .iso file must be converted into bootable media—typically either a DVD or a flash drive—to upgrade Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 7, Vista, or even the 12-year-old Windows XP.

In a note accompanying the .iso download links, Microsoft warned users that they would not be able to uninstall the beta if they upgraded using a disk image. The company has posted other information about upgrading in a brief FAQ on Windows 8.1 installation.

Here are Microsoft's links to the .iso files.

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