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While world drools over Apple, Microsoft fixes Windows RT 8.1 update

Won't put your Surface RT into a boot loop this time, honest

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Microsoft has once again made the Windows RT 8.1 update available via the Windows Store, following an earlier boondoggle that left some owners of ARM-based Surface RT tablets unable to boot their devices.

According to Microsoft, about one in 1,000 Surface RT owners who tried to install the update ended up with their fondleslabs in a state where the update was incomplete and the device wouldn't start up.

"This was due to a rare situation where firmware updates had not completed at the time of the update to Windows RT 8.1," a Microsoft support note explains. "In most cases, if a customer encountered this issue the result was simply an extra reboot. However, for a very small percentage, the boot configuration data was affected which prevented a successful boot."

Only the Windows RT version of the 8.1 update was affected by the glitch, and specifically only Windows RT running on Surface RT. The Windows 8.1 update for Intel PCs didn't suffer the same problems, and Windows RT devices other than Surface (a few of them do exist) were similarly unaffected.

In response, Microsoft pulled the RT update from the Windows Store over the weekend, and on Monday it published a tool that allows Surface RT owners to use any Intel PC running Windows 7 or later to create a bootable USB recovery drive that can restore their devices to factory condition.

Redmond now says that the version of the update that's available from the Windows Store as of Tuesday should be safe for all Surface RT devices, and all customers are encouraged to install it.

As El Reg explained earlier, the tile to launch the upgrade should pop right up when the Windows Store app launches, or Surface RT owners can try typing "ms-windows-store:WindowsUpgrade" into their browser's URL box.

If neither method brings up the update, Microsoft says the problem could be one of two things: either the device is not up to date with the latest patches from Windows Update, or it could be running a non-retail version of the OS that isn't eligible for the free update from the Windows Store.

And, of course, Microsoft apologizes for any inconvenience this little mess may have caused – even if it doesn't think it was really that big of a deal.

"If an issue occurs with our software or devices, we take immediate steps to ensure a quality experience for every single customer," the support note explains. "That's been our driving priority in this case, despite the very limited number of customers impacted." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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