How to Check for New or Missed Updates on Your Surface

By Andy Rathbone

Your Surface is a comparatively new product for Microsoft, so Microsoft constantly releases a stream of patches to fix nagging problems and hopefully prevent new ones from occurring. The Surface RT and Surface 2 automatically install every new update; the Windows Update service can’t be turned off. However, your Surface often waits a day or two before installing new patches so the updates won’t interfere with your work.

If you’re planning a trip or you’ll be away from the Internet, you can force your Surface to install new updates by following these steps:

  1. Fetch the Charms bar by sliding your finger inward from the screen’s right edge. Then tap the Settings icon.

  2. Tap Change PC Settings at the bottom of the Settings pane, tap the Update and Recovery category, and then tap Windows Update.

  3. Tap the Check Now button.

    The Check Now button tells your Surface to connect to the Internet and look for any recently released updates from Microsoft.

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  4. If updates are available, tap or click the View Details link.

  5. Tap to select the updates you want to install and then tap the Install button.

    Your Surface immediately installs the waiting updates.

  • Depending on the update, you may need to restart your Surface after Windows Update finishes installing the patches.

  • If you spot a waiting update labelled Firmware, plug your Surface into its power charger before installing it. Firmware patches are more extensive than other patches. They take longer to install, and you don’t want your Surface to run out of power before they’re completely installed.

  • To view your history of installed updates, which is handy when troubleshooting, tap the View Your Update History in Step 3. Windows displays a list of downloaded updates, and the word Installed or Failed appears next to each one. Your Surface automatically tries to reinstall failed updates the next time it connects with Windows Update.

  • Your Surface RT and Surface Pro must have all updates installed before the Upgrade to Windows 8.1 link appears in the Windows Store. If you can’t upgrade to Windows 8.1, keep vising Windows Update until you’ve installed all the waiting updates.

  • Windows Update is always turned on and set to automatic on the Surface RT and Surface 2. On the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, make sure it’s set the same way by tapping the Choose How Updates Get Installed link in Step 3. Then choose Install Updates Automatically (Recommended) from the Important Updates drop-down menu, and tap the Apply button.