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Support for Windows 8.1 has ended

Support for Windows 8.1 ended on January 10, 2023. We recommend you move to a Windows 11 PC to continue to receive security updates from Microsoft. 

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Learn about the latest Windows update for Surface RT and Surface 2, including new desktop and Start menu options.

What's new in Windows 8.1 RT Update 3?

Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 includes improvements to the Windows desktop experience for Surface RT and Surface 2. With the addition of a familiar and easy-to-use Start menu, you'll have quick access to your desktop and all your apps, files, and PC settings in one convenient place.

Start menu on Surface

The update is free and available through Windows Update for Surface RT or Surface 2 devices that are running Windows RT 8.1 Update.

Before you begin

Updates are installed automatically on Surface through Windows Update. If you're running Windows RT 8.1 Update, Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 will be available as an Important update to download. Depending on your update settings, you might already have downloaded and installed it.

Here's how to check:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and select Settings.

  2. Select Change PC settings > Update and recovery.

  3. Select View your update history.

    The update will be listed as Update for Windows (KB3033055). If you see this update in the history list, you already have Windows 8.1 RT Update 3. Go to Turn on the Start menu below to learn how to enable the Start menu on your Surface.

If you don't already have the update, here are a few things to check before getting it.

  • Make sure you have Windows RT 8.1 Update installed.

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

  • Back up your files. When you install Windows 8.1 RT Update 3, you'll keep your Windows settings, personal files, and apps. But it's always a good idea to back up your personal files before updating your Surface.

  • Connect to the Internet. You'll need to be online to download and install Windows 8.1 RT Update 3.

  • Plug in Surface. Your Surface needs to have at least a 35 percent charge to download and install the update. It's also important to keep your Surface plugged in to ensure that it doesn't go to sleep during the update.

Install Windows 8.1 RT Update 3

When Windows Update notifies you that Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 is available, follow the on-screen instructions to download and install it.

For more info, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

Turn on the Start menu

After installing Windows 8.1 RT Update 3, you'll need to turn on the Start menu. After you do this, the Windows 8 Start screen will no longer appear. If you want to go back to using the Start screen again, just turn the Start menu option off.

Note: If your Surface has more than one user account on it, you'll need to change this setting for each account.

Here's how to turn on the Start menu:

  1. Go to the desktop on your Surface—or go to the Start screen and select Desktop, then press the Windows logo key +D on your keyboard.

    Note: If you don't see the Desktop tile, swipe up from the middle of the screen to get to Apps view, and then select Desktop.

  2. Press and hold (or right-click) the taskbar, and select Properties.

    Taskbar properties

  3. On the Start menu tab, select the Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen check box.
    Taskbar and Start menu properties

    You can also customize privacy and other settings for the Start menu and taskbar:

    • Store and display recently opened programs on the Start menu

    • Store and display recently opened items on the Start menu and taskbar

  4. Select OK, and in the message that appears, select Sign out and change Start.

When you sign in again, you'll see the Desktop instead of the regular Start screen. To open the Start menu, select the Start button in the lower-left corner of the screen.

Remove Windows 8.1 RT Update 3

To remove the update from your Surface, uninstall it in Control Panel. Here's how:

  1. Go to Start , and select Control Panel > Programs > View installed updates.

  2. In the search box in the upper-right corner, enter kb3033055.

  3. Select Update for Microsoft Windows (KB3033055) > Uninstall.

If you prefer to use the Start screen instead of the Start menu, you can leave the update installed on your Surface and simply turn off the Start menu option. Follow the steps in Turn on the Start menu above, and clear the Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen check box. When you sign in again, the Start screen will be back.

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