Microsoft will release the preview build of the big 8.1 patch at its BUILD developer conference later this month. It will make a whole bunch of changes to how Windows 8 works but before you grab it, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. It’s a preview update. Microsoft releases preview builds of most of its important software in order to test it on a wide range of systems, accumulate user feedback and gather bug data that is used to polish and fix the final version. Because of the changes required, when the final versions are released, systems running preview versions cannot be updated to the final version. Should you choose to download and test the Windows 8.1 preview update, it is our understanding that you will need to reinstall Windows 8 from scratch and then update to 8.1 when the final version is released.

2. Come June 26, the Windows 8.1 will be available to all Windows 8 users via the Windows Store. It’s an opt-in update, and will not be downloaded automatically through Windows Update; that will only happen once the patch is finalised.

3. The release date of the final version of Windows 8.1 is projected to be only later this year, closer to Christmas.

We’ve requested comment from Microsoft SA, and will update the story accordingly when it comes in.

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.