PLEASE NOTE: Now that Microsoft has released their officially supported fix I am no longer providing the download for the recovery drive. If you wish to keep a small recovery drive then repair your system using the instructions from Microsoft, then follow “Option 1″ to create a new small boot drive.
UPDATE: Microsoft have now released the Full Recovery Image for WinRT (3.7GB download). Feel free to check it out here http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/warranty-service-and-recovery/surface-rt-startup-error-0xc000000d?lc=1033 It uses the same steps to complete the upgrade with the last part being to recreate the full recovery volume. Some news sites are saying the MS image will revert you to 8.0, it does not. It will complete the 8.1 upgrade and then the extra steps are to recreate the on-device recovery volume with the 8.0 image which only applies if you rollback sometime in the future.
COMMENT: I’ve also received confirmation that my approach works on a Japanese and other non-English language WindowsRT devices, which is good news as that’s not a test I could have done, and hadn’t even considered tbh. Also, While I refer to “Surface” because that’s what I have. these steps will also apply to any WindowsRT tablet device.
So something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. You do of course have the USB key you created shortly after setting up your Surface, don’t you?
Don’t worry, even though I do this sort of thing for a living, even I hadn’t created a recovery USB Key. Luckily for me though (or unlucky depending on how you look at these things), I have two Surface tablets. After the Win8.1 upgrade, one worked fine, the other suffered the Boot Configuration failure – http://kickthatcomputer.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/windows-rt-8-1-upgrade-fails-with-boot-configuration-error/
So here I’m going to describe the ways I’ve found to create your recovery USB key. Make sure to read to the end because you will most likely also need to recover your BitLocker encryption key as well (it’s like the complications never end!)
Option 1: Create a “proper” recovery USB Key with another tablet
- Find someone, or somewhere (e.g. local electronics retailer that sells Surface tablets) that has another Surface Tablet like yours
- Take a USB key (at least 512MB) and plug it in.
- The key will be wiped, so make sure there’s nothing on it you want
- Open the Search and look for “Recovery”
- You are looking for the “Create a recovery drive” program. It will be under “Settings”
- When the Create Recovery Wizard opens, UNTICK the option to copy the recovery partition from the PC and click Next
- This process will just create a small bootable recovery drive (about 250MB) rather than a full complete system recovery (about 3.5GB)
- Select the USB key you have plugged in
- Complete the wizard and remove your key
Option 2: Use the files from the recovery key that I’ve already created
UPDATE: I am NO LONGER offering my version of the boot disk, please refer to the Microsoft link at the start of the post. This section has been left here for archival reference only.
For this you will need another Windows PC. Anything XP, Win7, or Win8 should work. This option will work if you don’t have access to another Surface Tablet at all.
NOTE: You can create the USB recovery drive using ANY Windows computer running XP or above, (probably even Windows 95 OSR2!). You could possibly even do it on a Linux machine. You just need to be able to format the USB drive as FAT32 and extract .zip files! In fact, if you already have a FAT32 formatted key, you don’t even need to format it again, just need 250Mb of free space.
- Post a reply to this blog entry. Make sure to put your correct email address and I’ll email you a link to download the file from Skydrive (185MB)
- Don’t put your email address in the message itself
- I’m not entirely certain what limits I have on Skydrive, so I don’t want to make it completely public (sorry, but will change if Microsoft actually confirms it’s OK)
- Updated: Microsoft have released their “official” fix. It is basically the same steps, only using a full System recovery (3.7GB) instead of the small bootable drive option.
- Save it to your computer. Pay attention to where you saved it to
- Insert your USB key into your computer
- Format it as “FAT32″. Do NOT format as NTFS
- Now find that .zip file you downloaded, extract the contents and copy all of the files onto the newly formatted USB key
- That’s all! You now have a bootable USB recovery drive!
Recovering your drives BitLocker encryption key
When you use a USB Recovery drive that was created on a different device to your own surface tablet, it may not be able to read your drive because if enabled, Surface tablets use encryption to help protect the contents on your drive. This is way cool, but also complicates things when you need to do recovery stuff like this. Never fear though, Microsoft have thought of EVERYTHING. Well, except for the bug that crashed your Surface in the first place that is.
In my other blog post, when you select the option to open a “Command Prompt”, you might be presented with another message about needing to enter your encryption key. Here’s how you get that key.
- Make a note of the “Key ID” mentioned on the Surface screen
- On another working computer, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey
- Find the device with the same Key ID noted above
- The Recovery key listed underneath is what you type to unlock the encrypted drive on your Surface
Additional comment: Trust
Interestingly enough, the question of “why should I trust this file you are asking me to download?” has only been asked by one person. While I personally believe myself to be an ethical and trustworthy person, there is no reason for you to trust me. I’m just some guy on the internet asking you to download and run something on your computer. The question of “trust” is a tricky thing on the internet isn’t it.
I’ve had multiple confirmations of this fix working, so I know it works, but at the end of the day you have to make the decision yourself. Do you trust me enough to help you fix this? You are of course welcome to return it to Microsoft who will fix (or likely replace) it for you.
The files I am providing are a copy of the WinPE recovery drive that you would get if you followed my “Option 1″. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s nothing magical about what I’m providing other than the not so obvious steps of how to apply the fix.
Trust on the internet is tricky, and I won’t be offended in the slightest if you choose to question my authenticity.
BTW – I have a blog post coming about an adventure I had playing with a “Microsoft Support Centre” last night while I was responding to people with this issue. It was of course a scam (http://www.snopes.com/fraud/telephone/microsoft.asp)
But more on that later…