You may have already noticed or heard that sometimes applying new updates cause problems on your Surface.
So, then what do you do when something like this happens?
Well, you can just rollback (or uninstall) the update or updates that are causing you problems. In order to successfully rollback a Windows update, you have to do two things:
- First Disable Automatic Updates – if you don’t to this, the update will just try to re-install itself at the next opportunity.
- Roll back the update through Control Panel – to actually remove the offending update.
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.
In addition, you need to acknowledge that it’s possible that the rollback will cause as many or more problems then leaving the problematic update in place.
So, before you attempt any rollback please make sure you BACKUP ANY DATA YOU CARE ABOUT FIRST!!!! That way, if something goes wrong and you tank your Surface you can always do a reset to get it back up and running without worrying about your data.
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.
In Windows 10, unfortunately, Microsoft has made it somewhat confusing to prevent some patches and upgrades from automatically happening (especially if you have a Surface 3). This is because Windows 10 Home edition (which the Surface 3 runs) cannot be configured to prevent security updates from being automatically installed.
In addition, while you can use methods like registry editing or Local Group Policy changes to prevent updates from installing on Windows 10 Professional (which is the version Surface Pros and Surface Books run), there are usually some pretty invasive side effects such as no longer being able to make changes to the update settings from the GUI and persistent “Some settings are managed by your organization” messages.
So, to prevent confusion, I recommend simply disabling the Windows Update service until you’re ready to try the updates again. This method will work on any Surface model running Windows 10.
Here are the steps:
- Search for Services then select Services (Desktop App) from the results.
- Scroll down and find the entry for Windows Update.
- Double-tap/click it to bring up the Properties options.
- Configure the Startup Type to be Disabled then tap or click the Stop button.
- Tap or click OK then close the Services panel.
That’s it. Windows will no longer try to install updates. When you’re ready to allow Windows updates to work again, simply go back to the same screen, reverse the changes, and restart your Surface.
If you’re still running Windows 8.1, you could use the Windows 10 method to prevent updates from automatically installing. However, unlike Windows 10, Windows 8.1 offers much more control over how updates get installed without the need to turn services on and off.
- 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 (running Windows 8.1) 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 re-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.
As for actually rolling back the update, the method is the same for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 so, you can follow the same procedure as shown below:
- 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
After you uninstall the update(s), restart your Surface and it should be gone.
If you need help figuring out which update is the one causing your problems, you can refer to the Windows 10 Update History page Microsoft maintains. It lists a lot of information about the individual updates including the KB numbers which is really helpful for identifying them in the “Uninstall an update” list.
We hope this helps you solve any update-induced problems and, as usual, if you have questions please let us know.
LAST UPDATE: 15/2/2016
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.