Within days of Microsoft unleashing Windows 8.1 Update, users began flooding Microsoft support boards with problems during the install. Microsoft has been rather mum on the issue, but skilled users have found fixes to the problem.
The problems began piling up on Microsoft's Answers forum and continue to this day. The first problem was reported on the day of the launch of Windows 8.1 Update, referred to as KB 2919355 in Microsoft patch parlance.
As a result, Microsoft has given enterprise customers a reprieve, but consumers still need to get Update installed. A spokesperson for Microsoft issued the following comment in response to the issues plaguing users:
For devices running Windows 8.1, we instituted a new approach to servicing to help ensure our customers’ privacy and security are protected, while providing the most optimal performance through the most up-to-date software. As we’ve been monitoring the release, we’ve been actively discussing this new approach to servicing with enterprise customers and listening to their feedback regarding managing the deployment timeline. As a result, we’ve decided to extend the timeframe for enterprise customers to deploy these new product updates from 30 to 120 days, aligned with the August 12 update cycle.
For our consumer customers, Windows 8.1 Update is a required update and needs to be installed to receive new updates from Windows Update starting on May 13th. The vast majority of these customers already have Automatic Update turned on, so they don’t need to be concerned since the update will simply install in the background prior to May 13th.
The problems began on day one, when user BrandonStead was the first to complain of slow downloads, which really shouldn't be too surprising on release day as everyone wants to download it at once. But then he experienced an error during the install, which is not routine. He attempted rebooting and trying again, with no luck.
Multiple users reported similar problems, most often centering on a failure in the installer about one third of the way through the process. Others tried to manually download the files and run them individually instead of using Windows Update, to no avail, like the guy behind this comment:
Bro I feel you. I literally spent my entire day working on this. (~5+ Hours) Words cannot describe my frustration
Others started using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management diagnostic app that has to be run from the command line with Administrator privileges. Again, no luck.
A day later, someone from Microsoft identified on screen as "Vijin V" posted to the boards, telling people to perform a clean boot, otherwise known as a safe boot, to perform the install manually. This solution would mean downloading the updates and running them manually, since networking would be disabled in a clean boot, so Windows Update wouldn't work.
Some people reported success, but many others did not. Eventually, a user named Marek Kusmierski found the solution:
1. Download offline installers: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42335
2. Fix Windows Update: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971058/
3. Scan Windows system components: sfc /scannow
4. Remove KB2919355 package: dism /online /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_KB2919355~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~188.8.131.52
5. Clean up the WinSxS folder: dism /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup /resetbase
6. Clean up disk with system files remove: cleanmgr.exe
7. Restart computer
8. Run offline installer: Windows8.1-KB2919355-x64.msu
This seemed to work for many people.
Speaking for myself, the update went without a hitch. But my Windows 8 system is a standby PC that is almost never used. So the installation is barely touched. I suspect the people having problems are the ones who have installed a lot of apps and have fiddled with their systems quite a bit. So the less you disrupted the install, the less trouble you might have.