Microsoft has started making the latest major update to Windows 8.1 available to end users. The mandatory update for Windows 8.1 users comes in a series of patches, and requires that the user have a fully patched system before the update commences. Failure to properly install the patch has dire consequences, according to Microsoft -- engineers claim that "failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014."
In a Microsoft engineering blog, Michael Hildebrand notes that the update "is actually a series of packages that install collectively and provide UI and functionality improvements " and includes " a big IE feature-add as well as some heavy-lifting internal changes to Windows boot structures and memory/resource awareness and management" in addition to changes to the user interface of Windows 8.1.
Electronista tested the install on a series of computers, with between 5-7 updates required before the full 887mb update was installed. All of the machines had last been updated less than two weeks prior. After all smaller patches are installed, we had to run software update one more time, and manually check the full 8.1 patch for it to install as it was not tagged as an important update, despite being called so by Microsoft. Our entire update process took nearly an hour and a half on a Haswell Core i5 processor-equipped machine, and an hour and 17 minutes on a Core i7 device.