Microsoft pulls Windows RT 8.1 over boot bug

October 21, 2013 | 09:12

Tags: #bricking #bug #operating-system #surface-rt #tablet #windows-81 #windows-rt #windows-rt-81 #windows-store #windows-update

Companies: #microsoft #windows-blue

Microsoft has pulled its Windows RT 8.1 update following the discovery that it is corrupting the boot data on its Surface RT tablets, leaving the devices unable to load their operating systems.

Released in selected countries last Thursday and internationally on Friday, the Windows RT 8.1 update was designed to bring the same improvements to Microsoft's Surface RT tablet line as its Surface Pro devices enjoyed with the full-fat Windows 8.1 release. Sadly, Microsoft's string of software gaffes continues unabated with a bug surfacing shortly after launch that left affected system bricked.

Soon after the Windows RT 8.1 release appeared on the Windows Store, users began reporting problems with installing it. In the worse cases, systems would break entirely with a report that the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) file has been corrupted. Those affected by the flaw were left with completely unusable tablets, which require reinitialisation using a bootable USB recovery drive and a lengthy set of steps before springing back into life.

As a result of customer reports, Microsoft took a drastic step: 'Microsoft is investigating a situation affecting a limited number of users updating their Windows RT devices to Windows RT 8.1,' the company confirmed in a statement to press. 'As a result, we have temporarily removed the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store.'

This is the latest in a string of embarrassing update removals for the company, which has seen the overwhelming majority of its Patch Tuesday releases this year marred by bugs which slow systems down, remove critical components or - as in the case of this latest gaffe - prevent the computer from booting at all. To have it appear on a milestone - and mandatory - update for a flagship tablet operating system its software partners have already abandoned and on a hardware platform over which it exercises complete control, however, is bad even by the company's recent standards.

At the time of writing, Windows RT 8.1 was still missing in action with no word from Microsoft on when it will be made available through the Windows Store again.

EDIT 2013-10-23:
Microsoft has re-issued the Windows RT 8.1 update, this time with the bug excised. Those who wish to upgrade will find the update in the Windows Store now.
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