You may have already noticed or heard that sometimes Windows updates cause problems. In fact, lately the forums have been buzzing with reports of the December firmware updates causing the Surface 2 tablets to continually wake themselves up and drain the battery. And actually, we too have experienced this problem with our Surface Pro 2.
So, then what do you do when something like this happens?
In the case of the December firmware updates, there are already workaround instructions floating around the internet but, they all seem to have varying degrees of success. We’ll keep on top of it and when we find one that works reliably, we’ll let you know.
But in general, there may be times that updates cause a problem to your Surface tablet and you want to roll them back. In order to rollback a Windows update, you have to do two things:
- First disable the Auto Updates – if you don’t to this, the update will just re-install itself at next opportunity.
- Roll back the update through Control Panel.
It’s important to note that rolling back an update is usually something you would do as a temporary workaround to get your Surface back up and working. In an ideal world, Microsoft will issue a new update and that will solve your problem.
How to Rollback Windows Updates on your Surface: Disable Auto Updates
These steps will cover how to change your Windows updates settings to stop automatically installing when they become available.
Surface RT and Surface 2
Microsoft says that “Windows Update settings are always on and can’t be disabled. You can’t change Windows Update settings for Windows RT” – Annoying and not true.
Microsoft has set the Surface to always auto update. I hate this but there is no option to do turn it off within the Settings. So, the answer is…a registry hack. [Warning: if you mess things up here, you could really screw up your tablet, so only do this if you’re comfortable editing the registry or seek help from someone who knows what they’re doing]
- Open search menu [Windows key + Q]
- Search for regedit, click regedit.exe. This will open the registry editor
- Navigate to this registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionWindowsUpdateAuto Update
- Open the AUOptions key
- Change its value from 4 to 0 and click OK
That’s it, your Auto Updates are now turned off. However, if you do this, remember that you will have to check for updates regularly on your own because Windows will no longer do it for you.
Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2
For the Pro and Pro 2, it’s a lot easier since you don’t have to hack the registry.
- Open Windows Update by going to the Charm Menu then Settings [Or from the Keyboard: Windows key + I, see our list of useful Surface shortcuts]
- Tap Change PC settings
- Tap Update and recovery
- Tap Choose how updates get installed
- Under Important updates, choose the option: Download Updates but let me choose whether to install them
- Under Recommended updates, select the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates check box, and then click Apply
These steps configure your Surface Pro/Pro 2 to download the updates and ask you to install them but, it won’t just automatically do it. Now you’re ready to rollback the troublesome update and not worry about it trying to automatically install itself.
How to Rollback Windows Updates on your Surface: Perform the Rollback
Keep in mind that Microsoft does not recommend doing this because updates are intended to “help enhance the security and performance of your computer”. However, if an update causes problems, you clearly have no choice.
On the plus side, the same procedure forks on both the Surface RT/2’s and The Pro/Pro2’s.
- Open Control Panel on the desktop
- Tap Programs and Features
- Under Programs and Features, tap View installed updates
- Tap the update that you want to remove, and then click Uninstall. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation
We hope this helps you solve any update-induced problems.
As usual, if you have questions, let us know.