Windows 8.1 is out, and I would like to know if it is possible to share the Windows 8.1 download upgrade between different computers so that I don't have to download it over and over again?

This might be helpful for people who are on a metered connection. Store is downloading 3.42 GB of data so it must be stored somewhere. Is there a way I can copy it to my other computers and start the setup so that I don't have to download it over and over again on each computer I own?

  • I don’t see why not; the disc image is the same for everybody. You still have the enter different keys for each system (or the same key for VLK) and activate them individually. Either way, the disc itself is identical.
    – Synetech
    Oct 17, 2013 at 19:54
  • Perhaps you are meaning to ask something different, like Where is the downloaded ISO/Files from Windows 8.1?
    – kobaltz
    Oct 17, 2013 at 20:02
  • No cuz i am not sure it downloads iso file there are more chances of it being a wim file but still I need the location of the file.
    – LoneWOLFs
    Oct 17, 2013 at 20:40
  • Ah, so you’re not asking about the legality of it? It certainly sounded like you were. I think a clarification edit is called for.
    – Synetech
    Oct 18, 2013 at 1:01

6 Answers 6

  1. From the download link in the Windows Store, use the MS download tool to enter your key and begin the install. You must be on a machine with Windows 7 (or better) and the architecture (64/32bit) of the install machines. (Why the !@#$ this doesn't work on XP is ridiculous for anyone actually trying to upgrade!)

  2. After the download starts, wait till the it gets past 1% or more. Then close the download dialogue, and confirm you want to stop downloading.

  3. Re-open the download tool, it should skip all the original install screens, and resume downloading Windows.

  4. When the download completes, select the option "Install By Created Media"

  5. On the next screen, choose "ISO File" and select where to save the ISO.

From this point you can use the ISO to install windows on a different machine (or so I am lead to believe by other reports).

  • As of this day I think this is the most to the point answer so marking it as correct. I was able to download the iso using this method.
    – LoneWOLFs
    May 21, 2014 at 5:16
  • I just tried this (Toshiba P50). I followed the instructions but was never presented with step 4. 8.1 suddenly appeared with very few questions being asked (just my Microsoft login address and password, and my PC's password). Maybe the upgrade image is lurking on my PC somewhere... There is a folder $Windows.~BT but it only (only! - <snort>) contains 230 Mb.
    – rossmcm
    May 29, 2014 at 19:23

I did the update earlier today though and it seems that there is a folder C:\$Windows.~BT that got created and downloaded. You might TRY to take and copy that folder to another 8 machine and see if running the setup file will work for you. If it does...awesome...

However if that doesn't work, Unless it changes later, currently you can get to 8.1 via 3 methods:

  1. You can update each machine running 8 via the Windows Store
  2. You can use a VL download or Technet/MSDN download. You'll have to have an account though, and I'm pretty sure it won't update non VL 8 machines.
  3. You can buy a retail copy on Amazon or similar.

According to the MS Blog on 8.1 they aren't planning an ISO / IT Pro standalone installer:


We're not releasing the ISO images to folks who don't have MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. Best way for everyone else is to update through the Windows Store. - Brandon LeBlanc (MSFT)


Here are the direct Windows Store ESD (encrypted ISO) links from official website (EN-UK version):

  • Why not just use the upgrade tool to download it using the generic Windows 8.1 disk that way it's not a regional specific download
    – Ramhound
    Oct 18, 2013 at 3:57
  • do upgrade from ISO files like this retain the license
    – phuclv
    Oct 18, 2013 at 4:05
  • 6
    How do I run such an ESD? I want to upgrade my 3 lawfully licensed Win8 PCs and I don't want to download 10GB over my metered broadband connection.
    – avo
    Oct 18, 2013 at 4:59
  • 2
    @George Same question how would someone update their system from such an ESD file.. If you can expand your answer it would help a lot of people..
    – LoneWOLFs
    Oct 23, 2013 at 16:31

I succeeded in installing Windows 8.1 without downloading it again. Here is how I solved it. Before you start, be sure to clear/delete the $Windows.~BT folder.

Then go to \Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Downloads and locate the folder that contains the WindowsStoreSetupBox.exe file and the *.esd file. Copy it to a different location (create a folder).

Then launch an elevated command prompt and go to the location where you copied the .esd file and the WindowsStoreSetupBox.exe.

Enter this carefully and exactly:

WindowsStoreSetupBox.exe /ClassId bd02c22b-1edf-476f-ab78-a72bdada6a47 /SessionId 1 /ReportId {3AB7C5F3-D1B0-4899-8FDD-565910F4D2F7}.1

It should now work a bit and create the $Windows.~BT again and it contains now a Sources folder. Go there and you will find install.esd and setuphost.exe. Launch the latter as administrator.

If everything is fine, a Windows 8.1 window will open. Follow the instructions, and you're good to go.

  • 2
    In my case both the ClassId and the ReportId were totally different, so these may be random values and not constants. SessionId was different as well, in my case 6. Oct 18, 2013 at 18:43
  • @PeterHahndorf So it worked for you as well? Oct 18, 2013 at 20:24
  • @Louis - I didn't try a second install. I compared the command line which was used by WindowsStoreSetupbox.exe after I downloaded it from the store. I'm just saying mine were different. Oct 18, 2013 at 20:33
  • @PeterHahndorf the classid and session ID may differ I tested the command line on my computer after win 8.1 was installed and the exe file extracted the sources files to the windows.bt Folder but you need to do this only once afterwards just copy the contents of the sources Folder in the windows.bt folder to a disc oder a thumb drive 'cuz thats the files you need for an install!
    – Foxk13
    Oct 19, 2013 at 12:11
  • In my case (Toshiba P50, downloaded 8.1 via Windows Store), after the download/install, the folder \Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download (not Downloads) contained 36 empty folders with 32 hex character names. Things might have been different just after the download.
    – rossmcm
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:18

Check out \Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Downloads. There may be some folders with UUIDs for names. Look for one with a date or size that sounds like the update.

In there is WindowsStoreSetupBox.exe with an ESD file. In my case (Windows Pro WMC) 9600.16415.winblue_refresh.130928-2229_x64fre_client_Professionalwmc_gdr_en-us-IR1_CPWMCA_X64FRER_EN-US_ESD.esd. I don't think the store is utilizing the ISO.

If you get prompted to proceed or quit with the inescapable ribbon (example below), and click close, these files get deleted.

enter image description here


To add/collect and clarify some of the previous answers. From what I understand:

(1) When using the Windows Store (WS) to update, the image is first downloaded in encrypted form (which?) and placed in: C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download. File name is: install.wim (AFAIK). Once download is finished, and before reboot, the ISO contents are extracted into: C:\$Windows.~BT\. This is a hidden folder.

(2) When using the WindowsSetupbox.exe method for download, and selecting to "make/create media", the image is downloaded to: <I'm not sure> This time the filename is install.esd. It is then extracted to C:\ESD\Windows\. Once the media has been created, that file is removed. You should see the download filename/link in: C:\Users\YourUser\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WebSetup\Panther\setupact.log.

BTW. It is not clear if the extracted contents in (1) is the full download. Probably not since that folder is much smaller than the whole 3+ GB download. So it may just be the update parts of the whole image.

Finally, after download completion, you've only got 15 minutes to find and transfer the file, before system will reboot and start updating! There's no pause button in (1).

I have not used the create media option, so I'm not sure about that download location.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post.
    – 50-3
    Feb 15, 2014 at 12:22
  • I was editing the question while you added your comment.
    – not2qubit
    Feb 15, 2014 at 12:29
  • ...the "answer"...
    – not2qubit
    Feb 15, 2014 at 13:22

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