Microsoft: Windows RT 8.1 fix still in the works

Microsoft: Windows RT 8.1 fix still in the works

Summary: Microsoft officials say a fix to Window RT 8.1 is still in the works two days after the company pulled the operating system update from the Windows Store. Updating issues are affecting Surface RT owners only, Microsoft says.


Two days after pulling its Windows RT 8.1 from the Windows Store, seemingly due to installation issues, Microsoft is still working to fix glitches in update to the Windows RT operating system and make it again downloadable from the Windows Store.

Microsoft made commercially available both Windows RT 8.1 (for ARM-based systems) and Windows 8.1 (for Intel-based ones) starting October 17. Microsoft made it so some users who already had the Core and Pro Windows 8 on their devices could get the update for free by downloading it from the Windows Store.


But from the get-go, a number of users were reporting problems finding the update and getting it to install on their Microsoft- and non-Microsoft hardware. There were reports of some Surface RT users having their machines bricked as a result of applying the update.

Microsoft pulled the update from the Store on October 19 without explaining exactly why. Company officials promised to update users about what was happening.

On October 21, the company quietly made available a Surface RT recovery image, allowing those with borked Surface RT 8.1 updates to more easily reinstall Windows RT. For those affected by the Surface RT 8.1 installation issue, here's Microsoft's guidance as to what you can do to try to recover your machine.

 On October 21, a spokesperson sent me this statement:

"Based on our investigations of a situation customers have encountered updating to Windows RT 8.1, we can confirm that as of now this is a Windows update issue only affecting Surface RT customers. While only less than 1 out of every 1,000 (or less than 0.1 percent) Surface RT customers who have installed Windows RT 8.1 have been impacted, improving their experience and ensuring their systems are fully operable as quickly as possible is our number one priority.

We have made recovery media available for download here along with actionable guidance for affected customers. We continue to work towards making the Windows RT 8.1 update available in the Windows Store again and apologize for any inconvenience. Further updates will be provided as they become available."

So even though the problem with Windows RT 8.1 seems to be particular to the Surface hardware, the 8.1 update is not available for anyone with any kind of ARM hardware at this point.

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Tablets, ARM, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • yet another reason

    for ms to dump this second ARM based OS. They don't need two. Stick with the Intel OS and WP. Do some magic merging of the APIs. They need to get to write once, run on phone, phablet, tablet, pc, xbox.
    • That's a terrible idea.

      Windows 8 unpopularity and lack luster sales are directly tied to the one interface any device mentality. A pc, phone, and tablet serve different roles, an OS that does all poorly is useless.
      • Poorly?

        I don't know about that.

        I have a desktop and a convertible, both of which run Windows 8.1.

        The convertible is an extremely good notebook, and an average tablet, but the digitizer itself made it worth buying.

        For the desktop, I spend most of my away from the Metro UI, but the built-in search is one of the best native tools in Windows.

        It's not perfect, but the Desktop mode is still a noticeable improvement from 7.

        Multi-monitor support is a lot better, for one.

        Some might say DPI scaling, but that's mainly reserved for smaller machines.
      • No it is not...

        Windows 8 was poorly received because people don't like change. The OS is actually pretty awesome when you spend time with it.
        • Ah... The change card again...

          Just like the race card the change card loses all meaning when you play it every time someone disagrees with you.

          I have enjoyed every version of windows since version 2, yes even ME and Vista, but I think Windows 8 is a poorly designed, poorly implemented and the result of a company wide panic attack when they finally noticed that their OS was becoming way to big for the simple needs of most of their consumer customers.

          So in their rush to fix things, they threw the baby out with the bath water and created a gimped desktop, ridiculous full screen app design with a game show quality start menu.

          But they need not worry as there will always be loyal fans, like you, to ride in and slap dissenters with a "you cannot handle change" accusation if they dare not like something new for the first time in 25 years.

          • Ah, the assumption card.

            "So in their rush to fix things, they threw the baby out with the bath water and created a gimped desktop, ridiculous full screen app design with a game show quality start menu."

            Yes, a gimped desktop. The Windows 8 desktop is totally inferior, especially when compared to the Windows 7 desktop.

            Obviously, adding better multi-monitor support, refining DPI scaling, and giving the task manager a much-needed improvement while leaving the rest relatively untouched means that it's inferior. /s

            (I find it sad how some people attempt to bash things using false assumptions without even trying first. It's even sadder when they insult the users in order to gain a sense of superiority.)
        • agreed

          but only with 8.1 on touch
        • I have spent time with it

          and it is awesomely awful!

          It is quite unfair and damn wrong to simply say people don't like change. The reality is that people don't like BAD CHANGE! W8 /8.1 is a shocker and quite bluntly it is unfit for use!
      • Runs actually very well

        Adoptions stats aside, the current version of their operating systems are probably the best running systems they've ever had. WindowsPhone itself is silky smooth and very stable. Win8.1 is fun to use because it is also smooth, stable, and fast. Let's hope XboxOne (8.1??) will be as smooth and fun as the other systems. The disappointment to me has been RT. I've used it on two devices and it was slow compared to the other systems.
    • They don't have two...

      Windows Phone (as of version 8) is actually based on the same kernel like Windows 8/RT, so Windows RT might be their second ARM based OS, but effectively it is their first ARM version of the NT kernel who now powers all PC, Tablet and Phone devices, no matter if its x86/x64 or ARM. Technically, they have already only one OS left at the kernel level, what's missing is a unified runtime API.
      • Re: They don't have two...

        An OS is defined by it's APIs, not the kernel it runs.

        So, let's count:

        1. Windows Server;
        2. Windows XP;
        3. Windows Vista/7;
        4. Windows 8 (mix of w7 & WinRT1);
        5. Windows RT (WinRT2 + private win32 for Microsoft use);
        6. Windows Phone (another set of APIs);

        Now, even WinRT1 and WinRT2 are different...

        With the current pace, I give Microsoft about a decade to arrive at "unified API/OS". By that time, their competition will have moved ahead, Microsoft will become envious again and initiate yet another copycat cycle, which will bring us back to the mess we have today.
  • Something is going terrrible wrong with MS quality control

    Too many issues lately, they should address those issues as soon as possible.
    This issue is almost pathetic - 2 days and counting!!!!!
    • part of the problem

      Microsoft has outsourced a bunch of patch management to Wipro. Apple has also outsourced much of the core ios development to Wipro. This year, more than any other year, release management has been bad for both of the companies. I would say the ios7 upgrades were of particular concern since there are only a few devices they need to test on, but regardless, could Wipro be the common failure point here?
      • Re: since there are only a few devices they need to test on

        How many devices had Microsoft to test this update on? What do you think?

        One. Just ONE device, with two storage sizes, "designed" and "manufactured" by Microsoft themselves. If Microsoft can't manage the upgrade process on ONE model of their own design... that says a lot about their quality control.

        If Microsoft already outsourced software development, things are worse than expected. No wonder Balmer is leaving...
  • Microsoft: Windows RT 8.1 fix still in the works

    Its only been 2 days. I would rather see Microsoft debug and test the new updates first rather than try to rush it out in 2 days.
    • They should have debugged and tested it in the first place.

      Just another Microsoft failure to test.
      • Not Tested?

        You really think they didn't test this? People have been on 8.1 preview for months. All the people with early access to the RTM or other builds were not using it strictly on PCs. I'm sure in some manner or another they tested upgrading multiple devices to 8.1
    • how much more?

      Microsoft had a whole year to prepare this release. If they knew things were not ready, it was easy to postpone the general availability.

      Customers are becoming more sensitive to quality issues. A lost customer is very hard to win back.

      How many Surface RT tablets are out there? If there are 2 million such in total, 1:1000 (which I believe is grossly underestimated) is some 2000 devices bricked. or maybe many more.
      • Well your points are moot

        because you are outright proven Microsoft hater and you claimed you don't use Microsoft products, so why do you worry is out of me other than using ZDNet as the platform to spread your hatred. Give it a rest danbi. you are not entertaining any more. you are boring pathetic liar.
        Ram U
  • It will all be fine

    I'm sure they will have this worked out sooner than later. As for RT itself, though I agree that maybe there is no need for two ARM OS, I think the idea that there is no need for ARM on a tablet or a tablet like what MS was trying to do with Surface RT is ridiculous. Yes, a lot of people have nee for Surface Pro or other Windows 8 tablets, but I still feel the majority of tablet users or those who want a tablet, are looking for more of a basic, entertainment tablet.