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I have a Windows 8 in audit mode with a lot of applications installed, custom configurations done, and an answer file prepared, ready to be sysprepped for cloning. How do I upgrade to Windows 8.1, when I can't go into the store (Metro apps don't work in audit mode)? If I run sysprep then create a normal account so I can get the upgrade from the store, I suppose there's no way to go back to audit mode, and that's a huge problem as I want to retain the particular account settings I have configured for the audit mode account as a default account. What do I do??

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These are similar operating systems, but 8.1 is not just a patch to 8. It's a pretty major upgrade, and even has it's own version of the ADK. While it may be possible for you to find some hack/workaround to actually do this upgrade, that's probably not the best idea. You'd be getting yourself into the situation where you're imaging all your machines from an unsupported install. That's probably not how you want to be running a production environment.

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Sysprep will complain and not work if its not a clean install.

I started similar to you, with a Windows 8 image, and tried the upgrade to 8.1 (from an ISO). Looked to have worked, but because it was an upgrade, it dumped me out of Audit Mode, and sysprep refused to go back.

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