How to go back to Windows RT on the Surface RT

⚠ Warning:

Alexenferman and Microsoft are not responsible for any damages or bricks made to your device. Please do some research if you have any concerns about this downgrade. You are choosing to make these modifications, you should blame yourself for any mistakes you make. The Surface RT will be completely wiped while doing this downgrade. Back up your data.

Before Starting

Please read the warning very carefully. You understand that you are responsible for any damages made to your device.

What you will need:

  • Surface RT or Surface 2

  • USB Flash drive (Minimum 4GB)

  • A separate computer running Windows 8 or 10

Identifying the Surface tablet generation

There are 2 different models of Surface tablets running Windows RT. You must know the model of your tablet to get the appropriate files for it. Turn your tablet around to see the colour of the metal back cover.

Surface RT

Surface 2

Part 1: Making the USB drive bootable

Creating a USB recovery drive:

Note: If you still have your Windows RT recovery drive, skip this part entirely.

  • On a separate Windows computer, click on start, and search for "Create Recovery drive"

  • After the tool opens, make sure that "Back up system files to a recovery drive" is not selected, and then select "Next".

  • Connect the USB flash drive to your computer, select it, and then select "Next".

  • Select "Create". It may take some time to complete.

  • On the flash drive, delete all of the files created.

Part 2: Downloading the required files

There are two ways to get your hands on a factory image:

Method 1: Official Microsoft Surface Recovery Image Site

  • Go to the official Microsoft Surface recovery image β†— page.

  • Scroll down until you see the section: "1: Select your Surface device"

  • From the drop down list, select your Surface generation (Surface RT or Surface 2)

  • Then, enter the serial number of your tablet.

  • Click on "Continue"

  • Afterwards, a link to the factory image will be displayed.

  • Click on the factory image link. A zip file will be downloaded.

  • Extract the zip file, and copy the file contents on the flash drive.

Method 2: From RTWiki (Surface RT 1 only)

One inconvenient of the official Microsoft method is that you have to give them your Serial number to download their factory image, and who knows what Microsoft does with those serial numbers? That's when this second method steps in. Thanks to the Surface RT hacking scene, people were able to collect all of the Surface RT 1 recovery images from all regions.

  • Go to the RTWiki Surface Recovery Toolkit β†— page.

  • Scroll down until you see the "Recovery Images" section.

  • Select the appropriate region

  • After it's downloaded, extract the files

Note: You may see that the zip file inside is an ISO file. If that is the case, you can extract the ISO file using 7-zip β†— and then copy the files into the USB flash drive directly OR you can flash it on the USB flash drive using Etcher β†—

Part 3: Installing Windows RT

Entering Recovery mode:

  • Make sure Surface is turned off.

  • Insert your USB drive in the tablet USB port

  • Press and hold the Power and Volume down button

  • When the Surface logo is displayed, release the buttons.

  • Select your desired keyboard layout

Installing Windows RT

  • Select "Troubleshooting"

  • Select "Reset your PC"

If prompted for a Key, select "Skip this drive"

  • Press "Next"

  • Select "Yes, Repartition the drive"

  • Select "Just remove my files"

  • Please while Windows RT is installing...

  • Setup your tablet

And there you go! You are back to Windows RT!