Last night it was reported that the Spring update for Windows 8.1, due on April 8, 2014, was leaked online. And, not just leaked online, but leaked by Microsoft's own servers, most likely in preparation for the official release.

Through a series of registry edits anyone is able to initiate the automatic download and install of the update. A post to the My Digital Life forums gives direct download links, which includes two preparation packages, the update itself, and a supplement package, which seems to suggest that a couple updates are required for Windows 8.1 computers before the update is actually viable. Here are the assigned KB numbers and descriptions:

  • KB2919442 (Preparation Package)
  • KB2939087 (Preparation Package)
  • KB2919355 (Update 1 Package)
  • KB2932046 (Supplement Package)

Many who caught the news early were quick to download and install the update, but already there are hints of strange occurrences after installation. One report says that closing any modern app sends users directly to the desktop no matter which setting has been chosen for bootup and even if the computer is touchscreen-enabled or not.

If you choose to get the update early, make sure to install on a non-production computer that can be reinstalled if necessary. With a month left to go before Microsoft will officially make the update public, it's just common sense that Microsoft could make last minute changes. We reported just a few days ago that Windows 8.1 Update 1 has hit RTM, but that doesn't mean that Microsoft or early adopters may find bugs that need to be fixed, or workarounds provided, prior being available to the masses. The best practice though is to ignore leaks like this and wait for the official release.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 is intended to help lure desktop users (non-touchscreen computers) into using Windows 8 through a series of feature inclusions many feel should have been available in the initial release. Here's a shortlist of what's coming:

  • Windows 8 apps can be shown on the desktop taskbar
  • The taskbar is present even during Windows 8-style app usage
  • The minimize, maximize, and close buttons are back
  • Shutdown is now an integrated part of the Windows 8 Start screen
  • A new Search button is available on the Start screen
  • More Right-click options have been added to the Windows 8 Start screen
  • Non-touch PC users will be booted to the desktop automatically

The reports of bugs in the leaked update are concerning. If Microsoft can't get this release right, Windows 8 may fall deeper into the darker abyss of Microsoft OS history, joining Windows ME, Windows Vista, and Microsoft Bob.

UPDATE: Thanks to @KyllienTS for the note, it looks like the Windows 8.1 Update 1 download has now been taken offline. The Prep and Supplement packages are still, though.