How to Download Software Updates on Your Surface - dummies

How to Download Software Updates on Your Surface

By Andy Rathbone

No doubt, your new Surface has updates waiting for it, probably upon starting it for the first time. Some of the software fixes the latest bugs; others add features. If you’ve been able to connect to the Internet, your Surface will probably restart as soon as you sign in for the first time. And when it wakes up, it’s probably ready to download a second batch of updates.

When you’ve successfully connected with the Internet and you want to make sure your Surface is up-to-date with all of its updates, follow these steps:

  1. Summon the Charms bar and tap the Settings icon.

    Slide your finger in slightly from the screen’s right edge to fetch the icon-filled strip known as the Charms bar. Then tap the Settings icon at the Charms bar’s bottom edge. The Settings pane appears.

  2. Tap the Change PC Settings link from the bottom of the Settings pane.

    The PC Settings screen appears.

  3. Tap Update and Recovery from the screen’s bottom-left corner; when the Windows Update screen appears, tap the Check Now button. Select your waiting updates and click the Install or Install and Restart button.

    Windows Update searches for any waiting updates, which can take a long time. Depending on your Surface model, a screen appears. There, you see any of these updates waiting for installation:

    • Firmware updates: These large updates improve your Surface’s most basic functions. Firmware updates can improve the sound, battery life, camera, keyboard, and other physical items. Firmware updates usually require your Surface to be plugged in, so make sure your power adapter is handy. These updates always require a restart to take effect.

    • Important updates: Because these updates usually fix security problems, your Surface normally downloads them automatically in the background. After they’re downloaded, your Surface installs them automatically within a few days. Or, if you happen to restart your Surface, it installs them then. (Your Surface needn’t be plugged in for these.)

    • Recommended and Optional updates: These aren’t required for security, but installing them usually improves your Surface in other ways. For example, if you have an original Surface RT, the final version of Office 2013 RT will be listed here to replace your preview version. You may also see updated drivers — software that helps your Surface communicate with printers, networks, and other gadgets.

    If your Surface says it found updates and will install them automatically, you don’t need to do anything; the Surface will install them later.

    If you want to force the update, perhaps before traveling, tap the words View Details. The View Details screen appears, letting you see the waiting updates and install them all with a tap of the Install button.


  4. If asked, restart your Surface.

    If you see a Restart Now button, tap it to restart your Surface. If you don’t see that button, follow this step to restart your Surface:

    Summon the Charms bar by sliding your finger in from the screen’s right edge and then tap the Settings icon. Tap the Power button on the Settings pane and, when the pop-up menu appears, tap the words Update and Restart.

When your Surface returns to life, the updates are installed.

  • After manually downloading the first big batch of waiting updates, you probably won’t need to check with Windows Update again. It will automatically download and install any waiting updates a few days after their release.

  • Windows Apps update automatically on the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, as well as on the Surface RT and Surface Pro after they’ve been upgraded to Windows 8.1 RT or Windows 8.1.