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Microsoft Releases Windows RT Recovery Image For Download To Save Bricked Surface Tabs

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News Posted: Mon, Oct 21 2013 6:13 PM

It was really in Microsoft's best interest to make sure that its Windows 8.1 launch last week went off without a hitch, but that didn't quite become the case. Over the weekend, reports started to trickle out of device brickings involving Surface RT tablets. Select issues reportedly also plagued a few random Windows 8 Pro installs, such as the one with the ASUS Transformer Book we just posted a preview of, but that problem wasn't as wide spread as what was experienced with Windows RT.

To those with bricked Surface RT tablets: A solution has arrived. There's just one downside: The fix is a complex process, sure to be considered ridiculously tedious even for the PC pro.

An instruction PDF is made available alongside the RT recovery image, but in gist, this is the process to get back up and running again: A) Create a bootable flash drive and copy the recovery image to it; B) Fix the bootloader using /bootrec; C) Inside of Windows itself, use 'diskpart' to prepare the proper disk partition and then use another command to copy the recovery image over to it; D) Reboot and let the 8.1 update install.

Reading the above might make the process seem simple overall, but it's not going to be comfortable for those who aren't that experienced with such procedures; expect a fair bit of command-line use.

The upside to all of this is that no data whatsoever will be lost; you're simply repairing the bootloader and updating the recovery partition. That said, it'd be irresponsible to not recommend booting up with an OS-equipped flash drive (such as with a Linux OS such as Ubuntu) to backup your data elsewhere just in case.

If you have a bricked Surface RT and need to take this recovery route, please let us know how you made out in the comments below!

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realneil replied on Mon, Oct 21 2013 8:42 PM

So far, I'm glad that I don't have one of these.

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

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basroil replied on Mon, Oct 21 2013 9:14 PM

Unbricking that comes will full instructions and doesn't require taking the device apart or sending it to genius squad is quite impressive. Last bricked ipad I saw ended up losing all it's data after getting sent to apple after a bad os update.

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Oct 21 2013 9:23 PM

Yep, agreed. Though I wonder if users are losing data in a reformat of the OS. I wonder if the recovery image is a restore point or a factory image that ends up wiping user data. I think it's the latter but can someone who has experienced this confirm?

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RWilliams replied on Mon, Oct 21 2013 10:54 PM

"The upside to all of this is that no data whatsoever will be lost; you're simply repairing the bootloader and updating the recovery partition."

;-)

Once the recovery partition is fixed, the PC gets rebooted into it so that the OS can updated, not reformatted, as per the PDF instructions.

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Oct 21 2013 11:46 PM

Did you RTFM? I never do that, obviously. D'oh!

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ajm531 replied on Tue, Oct 22 2013 12:39 AM

The fact that it even happened was pretty bad considering most people probably spent a pretty penny on this device before they went on sale. Also yes it comes with instructions and but i think the average consumer would not want to mess with this at all. I wonder if they replaced them or urged people to apply this fix themselves?

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