Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Windows RT 8.1.


Surface RT or Surface 2: Windows won't start or stops responding

If you're having problems with Windows on your Surface RT or Surface 2, here's info to help you get things back up and running.


Before you begin

Disconnect everything from Surface

First, disconnect or remove the following from your Surface:

  • The power supply
  • Surface Covers, such as Touch Cover or Type Cover
  • microSD memory card (if any)
  • Any USB devices such as printers, keyboards, or mice
  • Any video or audio cables or adapters

Have your BitLocker Recovery Key handy

You might be prompted to provide your BitLocker recovery key. To retrieve this key, go to windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey from another trusted PC or mobile device, and sign in with the same Microsoft account you use on Surface. For more info, see BitLocker recovery keys: Frequently asked questions.

The Surface startup logo doesn’t display or stays at a black screen

If the Surface startup logo doesn't display after a few seconds when you turn on Surface, or if Surface’s screen remains black when trying to wake from sleep, see Surface RT or Surface 2 won't turn on.

Surface is stuck on the Surface startup logo

If your Surface is stuck on the Surface startup logo, turn off Surface and then turn it back on:

Step 1: Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds.
This ensures that Surface shuts down instead of just going to sleep.
Step 2: Next, press the power button again to turn Surface back on.

If shutting down Surface and turning it back on doesn't help, contact us.

Windows doesn't start

If you turn on Surface and Windows doesn't start correctly, it may display a screen that offers you one or more options to try to get Surface running normally again. The screen that Windows will display depends on the kind of problem it encountered when it tried to start. The screens that you might see include:

Recovery screen

When Surface displays the Recovery screen:

Step 1: Tap or click See advanced repair options.
Step 2: Tap or click Automatic Repair, and follow the instructions on the screen.
Windows will try to fix the problem that kept Windows from starting.

Choose an option screen

If Surface detects a problem during a previous startup, it may load a menu of options to help you troubleshoot the problem.

When Surface displays the Choose an option screen:

Step 1:Tap or click Troubleshoot.
Step 2: Tap or click Advanced Options.
Step 3: Tap or click Automatic repair. Windows will try to find and fix the problem.

If Windows can't fix the problem, and the Choose an option screen is displayed a second time:

Step 1: Tap or click Troubleshoot.
Step 2: Tap or click Refresh. Refreshing Surface keeps your personal files, settings, and any apps that came with your Surface or that you’ve installed from the Windows Store.

If refreshing Surface doesn't fix the problem and the Choose an option screen is displayed again, you’ll need to reset your Surface.

Warning
Things you need to know before resetting Surface.

After a reset, Surface returns to its factory settings.

  • All your personal files, settings, and apps will be gone. You’ll have to set up Surface as if it were brand new.
  • Windows and the apps that came with Surface will be reinstalled as part of the reset process, but you will have to reinstall Windows Store apps that did not come pre-installed on Surface.

    Step 1: From the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot.
    Step 2: Tap or click Reset your PC, and follow the instructions on the screen.

Error icon screen

If your Surface starts, but Windows doesn't, you may see an icon on the screen. Here's what the icons mean, and what you should do:
temperature error icon
Surface is too hot.
Turn Surface off for about 5 minutes and move it to a cooler place.
Surface is designed to work between 32° and 95° Fahrenheit (0° and 35° Celsius).
Low-battery error icon
The battery is critically low.
Attach the power supply and charge Surface.
For more info, see Surface RT or Surface 2 battery and power.
Broken padlock icon
A certificate is corrupted.
Shut down Surface: Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds to turn off Surface, and then press the power button again to turn Surface back on.

Need more help?

If you've tried the above solutions for the Windows screen that Surface displayed, and Windows still does not start correctly, contact us for more help.

Windows stops responding in a certain app

If Windows stops responding when you’re using a certain app, try the following solutions:

Install Surface and Windows updates

Make sure you have the latest updates for Surface and Windows. See Install Surface and Windows updates.

Update or reinstall the app

Check for app updates, and if necessary, uninstall and reinstall the app. To learn how, see Install and uninstall apps on Surface RT or Surface 2.

Run the App troubleshooter

Try running the App troubleshooter. The troubleshooter can find and fix many problems with apps.

Contact the app's publisher

To contact the publisher of your app:

Step 1: On the Start screen, tap or click Store.
Step 2: Search or browse for the app, and then tap or click it.
Step 3: Scroll to the Details section of the app's description page, and then under Learn more, tap or click the support link for the app.
The link will open an email message for you to contact support or will take you to a support website.

Need more help troubleshooting apps?

For more help troubleshooting apps, see Troubleshoot Windows Store apps on Surface.

Windows stops responding

If Windows stops responding and the problem does not appear to be related to a particular app, there are several options you can try to get things working again.

Shut down Surface

Step 1: Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds.
This ensures that Surfaces shuts down instead of just going to sleep.
Step 2: Next, press the power button again to turn Surface back on.

If shutting down Surface and turning it back on doesn't help, try installing the latest Surface and Windows updates.

Install Surface and Windows updates

Step 1: From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC Settings, tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click Windows Update.
Step 3: Tap or click Check now.
Step 4: If there are updates available, tap or click View details.
Step 5: Tap or click to select the updates you want, and then tap or click Install.
You may need to restart Surface after the updates have been installed.

For more info on updates, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

If installing updates doesn't help to get Surface running normally, use Windows Defender to scan Surface for viruses.

Scan Surface with Windows Defender

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge, and then tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
Step 2: In the search box, enter defender, and in the search results, tap or click Windows Defender.
Step 3: On the Home tab, tap or click to choose a scan option, and then tap or click Scan now.

For more info on features built into Window RT 8.1 to help guard Surface against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, see How can I help protect my PC from viruses? and How do I find and remove a virus?.

If Windows still isn't working, and you've scanned for and removed any viruses, try refreshing or resetting your Surface.

Refresh or reset Surface

If you're still having problems with Windows on your Surface, try in this order: refresh Surface and reset Surface.

  • Refresh Surface
    Refreshing your Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, apps that came installed on your Surface and those you've installed from the Windows Store.

If refreshing Surface doesn't resolve the problem, reset Surface.

  • Reset Surface
    Resetting your Surface reinstalls Windows, but removes your personal files, settings, and apps that did not come installed on your Surface. Reset keeps the apps that came installed on your Surface.

For detailed how-to info, see Refresh or reset Surface RT or Surface 2.