How to Rollback Windows Updates on your Surface

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.

Windows 10

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.

Windows 8.1

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

Extreme Hot Fix for Surface Issues Related to Moisture

Picture this….

You’re carrying your stuff to the car after a rainy day in the office. As you walk toward your car, you accidentally lose your grip on your Surface.

It lands face-down, smack in the middle of a deep puddle. You hurriedly reach for it but.. you know it’s too late…. water comes pouring out when you pick it up.

Now what? Continue reading Extreme Hot Fix for Surface Issues Related to Moisture

Run Linux on Surface Pro 3

If you consider yourself tech-savvy and have a Surface tablet device, you may have wondered if you can run Linux on Surface Pro 3 tablets.

The answer is: YES, you can.

The guys who maintain the Surface Pro 3. Continue reading Run Linux on Surface Pro 3

Traditional Windows Laptop to Surface 3 – Six Things To Know

If you’re still using a traditional Windows laptop but you’re considering making the jump from a laptop to a Surface 3, here’s a list of six things you’ll want to know to make the transition from laptop to Surface 3 smoother for you. Continue reading Traditional Windows Laptop to Surface 3 – Six Things To Know

June 2015 Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 Firmware

It’s that time of the month again… and Microsoft has released new firmware updates for Surface tablets.

This time, the Surface Pro 3 and the Surface 3 both received updates. The Surface Pro 3 has been receiving regular firmware upgrades since June 2014 but this is the first firmware update for the Surface 3.

Here’s a list of what’s included for both models… Continue reading June 2015 Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 Firmware

Safe Mode On Surface

Have you tried to get your Surface into Safe Mode only to find out that it’s harder than you think?

With Windows 7, all you had to do is hit F8 at boot and it would give you the option to enter Safe Mode but as you probably found out, that doesn’t work on the Surface.

So how can you do it?

Read on, today I’ll tell you all you need to know about Safe Mode on your Surface device.

Safe Mode On Surface: What is Safe Mode?

If you don’t know about Safe Mode, it’s a special mode of operation built into Windows that disables any drivers, devices, and applications that “could go wrong” and only loads a minimal set of what’s needed to run the computer.

This makes it very handy to facilitate troubleshooting or malware recovery if you’re having problems getting your Surface started normally.

Safe Mode On Surface: Accessing Safe Mode

In the past, with Windows 7, it was much easier (and more direct) to get into safe mode. With Windows 8.1 however, you first have to access the Advanced Start screen then navigate a series of menus to get into Safe Mode.

There are multiple ways to access the Advanced Start screen but, on a Surface the most reliable (although not necessarily quickest) is to do the following:

  • Bring up the Search charm
  • Search for Change advanced startup options
  • Select Change advanced startup options from the results
  • Tap Restart Now from under the Advanced Startup section

Your Surface will restart and boot into the Advanced Startup screen.

I advocate this method because there’s no guarantee you’ll have a keyboard with you. However, if you do happen to have a keyboard attached, it’s much easier to get to the advanced boot screen. All you have to do is hold down the shift key while you tap the restart option from your Start Screen (under the Power icon). If you do that, it will take you straight to the Advanced Start screen.

In either case, once you’re at the Advanced Startup screen, you will need to follow the steps outlined in the infographic below to actually get into Safe Mode.


Safe Mode On Surface: Safe Mode and Bitlocker

If you have Bitlocker encryption turned on for your system drive, you’ll get a prompt for the Bitlocker key once you finish the steps in the infographic flowchart to boot into Safe Mode.

In order to get past this and into Safe Mode, you’ll be prompted to enter your recovery key. You can find out more about how to do that at this web page: Microsoft Recovery Key FAQ

Safe Mode On Surface: Add Safe Mode to Startup

Since you’re probably not going to need to get into Safe Mode too often, the steps above are a pain but not unbearable. However, if you would like to be able to get into safe mode easily without navigating a series of menus, you can always add a “Safe Mode” option at startup.

This has the advantage of being relatively quick and easy to get into Safe Mode on your Surface if you should need to but, it comes at the cost of slowing down your Surface at startup.

Also, this method is not recommended if you’re using Bitlocker encryption on your Surface because you will need to enter your encryption key to start your Surface in Safe Mode.

The method I outline below will add a screen to the start sequence giving you the choice to either start Windows Normally or start in Safe Mode. If you don’t make a choice, it will start normally after a 30 second delay.

  • Attach a keyboard to your Surface (it’s just easier this way)
  • Press the WIN + X keys at the same time or tap and hold (right-click) on the Start button to open the Power User Menu
  • Select Command Prompt (Admin). This will open what’s called an elevated command prompt
  • Click Yes button if the User Account Control message prompts you
  • In the elevated command prompt, type the following command (including the quotes): bcdedit /copy {current} /d “Safe Mode” and press Enter
  • Press WIN + R, and type Msconfig in the Run dialog then tap or click the OK button and the System Configuration utility window should appear

  • From there, go to the Boot tab and select Safe Mode (C:\Windows)
  • Check the Safe boot checkbox then check the Network box

  • Finally click the OK button
  • If you have Bitlocker enabled, you’ll get a warning like the one below

  • Click Yes to proceed

Once you’ve finished this procedure, you’ll start seeing a blue selection menu when you restart your Surface asking you to boot into Windows 8.1 or Safe Mode. There will be a 30 second timer and when it reaches 0, assuming you followed along correctly, it will boot into Windows 8.1 normally.

Safe Mode On Surface: Remove Safe Mode from Startup

If you would like to remove the Safe Mode from the Windows Boot Manager, all you have to do is go back into the Microsoft Configuration (msconfig) utility and delete the Safe Mode entry from under the Boot tab.

Knowing how to get into Safe Mode is one of those things that you don’t need often but, if you do, you won’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do it while your Surface is (likely) broken or having problems.

So, I would bookmark this article and keep it handy, just in case.

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Troubleshooting Miracast on Surface Tablets

If you have a Surface tablet (except for the Surface RT), one of the cooler features it offers is built-in support for the Miracast protocol. If you don’t know about Miracast, it basically lets you send video and audio to a compatible TV or projector wirelessly.

It’s awesome when it works but, what about when it doesn’t?

With that in mind, I’m going to cover some advice for troubleshooting Miracast on Surface tablets. Continue reading Troubleshooting Miracast on Surface Tablets

Stream Video From Surface Tablets

The Surface is a really cool little tablet. It’s light weight and powerful. Unfortunately, one of the trade-offs for that compact form factor is screen size, another is speaker volume.

As a result, although great for individual use, the Surface is not really a good choice for watching a movie with a bunch of your friends – unless you like to be really cozy with each other and can hear really well.

Fortunately, it is quite easy to wirelessly stream content from Surface tablets to larger displays such as TVs and projectors. Continue reading Stream Video From Surface Tablets

Using a Surface with Mac Computers

Are you a Mac user who is thinking about making the switch to Windows because you want to get a Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 but you’re afraid of making the switch?

What if I told you that you can keep your Mac AND access (almost) all of your data with a Surface? Well you can and, in this article, we’re going to discuss how and it’s not as hard as you might think. Continue reading Using a Surface with Mac Computers