Microsoft is releasing a Surface RT recovery image today to address some Windows RT 8.1 update issues. The software maker removed the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store over the weekend after reports of Surface RT devices failing to boot following its installation. Microsoft hasn’t offered full release notes with its recovery image release, but the 3.7GB download will restore a Surface RT to its original state.
The recovery image requires a USB drive with over 4GB of storage, and a PC running Windows 7 or later. Recovery instructions provided with the download suggest that the fix will address startup errors, one of the issues reported with the RT 8.1 update over the weekend. Microsoft's recovery image is only limited to Surface RT devices, and it's not clear if other OEMs will provide similar recovery options. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for more information on when Windows RT 8.1 will return and the recovery situation, and we’ll update you accordingly.
Update: Microsoft has responded with new details on the issue, revealing that less than 0.1 percent of Surface RT customers were negatively affected by the original update. Unfortunately, the company isn't yet offering a timetable on exactly when Windows RT 8.1 will once again become available for download. Microsoft provided The Verge with the following 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%) 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.