I'm sure "No we don't have any plans to make ISO images available outside of MSDN/Technet subscriptions" by Brandon LeBlanc on 18 October 2013 was amongst the worst promotional material for any Microsoft product.
I'd been arguing the case for the need for the .iso downloads since 2010 on Dell IdeaStorm. It only got worse with Windows 8.0 and with Windows 8.1 I'd never such an awful deployment of a service pack by forcing it through a buggy store. The number of issues with the update made a number of workarounds previously documented here very popular. Unsurprisingly there was a large user backlash and endless frustration over this stupid decision. I'm thankful to all users who left negative feedback here and elsewhere even if it resulted with my ban on Microsoft Answers, SevenForums and EightForums.
Finally only after a year or two (including the lack of a Windows 8.0 OEM .iso) Microsoft have looked to common sense and released a downloader which works as expected.
Their new Windows Installation Media Creation Tool is fully functional. To Download Windows 8.1 see my Download Windows 8.1 Retail and OEM .iso.
The Windows Installation Media Creation Tool allows for selection of:
- Windows 8.1 Version
The Windows Installation Media Creation Tool importantly does not ask for a product key, allowing you to download the .iso on any Windows computer.
The Windows Installation Media Creation Tool also checks that the downloaded .iso is okay which should reduce the errors users previously encountered when trying to install with media created from incomplete downloads.
Finally the Windows 8.1 with Update 1 .iso accepts both Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 product keys during installation regardless whether OEM or retail:
- Windows 8.1 (Home) .iso will accept Windows 8.1 (Home) Product Keys and Windows 8.0 (Home) Product Keys.
- Windows 8.1 Professional .iso will accept Windows 8.1 Professional Product Keys and Windows 8.0 Professional Product Keys
- Windows 8.1 Single Language .iso will accept Windows 8.0 Single Language and Windows 8.1 Single Language Product Keys
I have multiple confirmations of the new media creation tool .isos working on the OEM license although some cases users used RWEverything and change key for product activation afterwards.
Microsoft have acknowledged the feedback left here and many other places on the many difficulties their previous deployment options (or lack of options) had on the end user. From my own guides these were:
- Installation of Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8.0 Product Key Notes – 333,705 views.
- Download Windows 8.1 Retail iso – 275,521 views.
- Obtaining your OEM BIOS Embedded SLP Product Key using RW-Everything (Windows 8.0/8.1 OEM Only) – 82,489 views.
- Product Activation Using a Windows 8.0 Product Key in Windows 8.0 via Change Key – 44,967 views.