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Here is another very important thing to consider before you upgrade to Windows 8.1. If you are still using Windows XP, chances are you are using a computer that is several years old. In that case, it is very likely that your current computer will not be compatible with Windows 8.1 which demands a higher level of resources from your computer. So before you upgrade read very carefully the System Requirements of Windows 8.1 from this Microsoft site. Should you find out you indeed need a more powerful computer in terms of its processor, RAM, hard disk space, graphic card, monitor quality and so forth, I have good news for you. If your current computer is more than 5-6 years old, the chances are you'll find a newer computer that meets the minimum requirements of Windows 8.1 at a significantly lower price than what you paid for your old, out-of-date computer! Shop around a little bit for a great deal. And don't forget to look in Microsoft Store where some Microsoft recommended brand/models are available.
I think, the only important decision you have to make before buying a new computer is whether or not you want a touchscreen compatible laptop or a touchscreen compatible monitor for your desktop. This is because both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have touchscreen capability though they can both be used with the mouse and the keyboard. This decision becomes more important if you are buying a laptop computer. At least, for now, more desktop users including myself prefer mouse and keyboard. I find learning to use touchscreen is one additional step in the learning process because in my opinion, touchscreens are not always that "intuitive". Among laptop users, who probably are using iPad and other tablet computers for sometime, many perhaps will prefer tochscreen and that certainly is the latest trend and is perhaps here to stay. So it is entrirely upto you whether to choose touchscreen or not.
Just a couple of pointers. Touchscreen users will find that it is necessary to clean the screen (monitor) more often as it picks up finger prints. But a more important point is touchscreen monitors for the desktop or laptops with touchscreen capability cost significantly (about 33%) more.
Since I use the mouse and the keyboard even with my Windows 8.1 computer, these tutorials will include instructions for doing things mainly with them, although I shall try to include some basic instructions about using the touchscreen.
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