In short – Yes.
There are a number of improvements and, of course, the inevitable security fixes. Don’t however upgrade just to get the Start button back. This is a red herring and te button that Microsoft have added isn’t a true Start button only a click back to the Windows 8 metro start screen.
I have now carried out over a dozen upgrades from Windows v8 to v8.1 and EVERY ONE of them went smoothly. This flies in the face of some sources that report ‘nightmare’ problems.
If you are going through the upgrade process then the first thing I would recommend is to install ALL of the Windows 8 updates. You can find this in the control panel or by typing ‘Windows Updates’ at the Start screen.
Once your Windows updates are fully installed I would then advise updating all of the Apps that you have loaded. You do this via the Store icon on the Windows 8 metro start screen.
Finally take a backup of your user data ‘ just in case’.
OK, you are now ready to upgrade.
To download and install v8.1 click on the Windows Store again and if all updates have been installed you will now see the option to upgrade to Windows v8.1 on the left of the main store window. Notice the difference in terminology, this is an UPGRADE not an UPDATE.
So How Long Does It Take?
Obviously this will depend on your PC specification and your broadband speed.
As an example over the weekend I upgraded a modern laptop with 4Gb memory and wirelessly connected to a 6.5Mbps broadband connection. The preparation steps mentioned above took about 1 hour (ie; Windows and app updates). I then did the v8.1 upgrade and it took 2.5 hours from start to finish.
So, it my experience the upgrade process is pretty robust so don’t be frightened off by the minority that hit problems. Providing you follow the steps above you should be fine.