Windows doesn’t start on Surface

If Windows doesn’t start correctly when you turn on your Surface, here are solutions for some of the more common screens that might appear.

Before you begin

Leave your Surface plugged in to the power supply included with the device, then remove all accessories. This includes the Type Cover, accessories, adapters, external monitor, and microSD card. If you're using a docking station, remove your Surface from it.

Before trying these solutions, make sure that you’ve checked your connections as described in Surface battery won’t charge or Surface won't run on battery.

If Windows starts but then freezes or stops responding: See Windows stops responding on Surface.

If your Surface stops responding while installing updates: See Trouble installing Surface updates?

Which screen do you see?

If your Surface is turned on but Windows doesn’t start up correctly, you may see one of the screens below. Select the one that matches your problem and follow the troubleshooting steps.

A completely black screen.

Black, blue, other-dark-colored, or backlit screen

A blue screen with options to continue, troubleshoot, or turn off your PC.

Choose an option screen

A black screen with the Windows logo in the center.

Microsoft or Surface logo screen

A black screen with the Windows logo and text saying "Preparing automatic repair."

Automatic Repair screen

A black screen with a low battery icon.

Large battery icon

A black screen that lists device info.

A white screen with the title "Surface UEFI" and details about PC information and firmware.

Firmware interface (UEFI) configuration screen

A black screen with the Windows logo and a screen cache icon.

Microsoft logo with drive cache icon

A blue screen with the title "Boot error" and a message saying to check the boot configuration.

Boot error screen

A blue screen with the title "Recovery" and a message that your device needs to be repaired.

Recovery screen

Shows a blue screen that says "Enter the system password." There's a box to enter the password, and below that, there are OK and Cancel buttons.

Forgot UEFI password screen

What you see

  • A blue Choose an option screen with options like Use a device and Troubleshoot.

If you see this screen, go to Solution 1.

Solution 1: Continue to Windows

Select Continue to exit the options screen and continue to Windows.

  • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

  • If Windows doesn’t start: Continue to Solution 2.

Solution 2: Repair your Surface

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.

  2. Select Advanced Options > Startup Repair and follow the on-screen instructions. Windows will try to find and fix the problem.

    • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

    • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 3.

Solution 3: Perform a System Restore

When you perform a system restore, Windows will restore your Surface to an earlier point in time when Windows was working correctly.

Notes: 

  • System Restore doesn’t change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed apps and drivers.

  • Make sure you have access to product keys and installation files for all desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that you may have installed after the point to which you’re restoring your Surface.

Here’s how to do a system restore on your Surface:

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options.

  2. Select System Restore and follow the on-screen instructions.

    • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

    • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 4.

Solution 4: Reset your Surface

A reset does the following:

  • Reinstalls Windows and the apps that came installed on your Surface

  • Removes all your personal settings

  • Removes all apps that you installed

  • Provides options for keeping or removing your personal files or restoring factory settings:

    • Keep my files: Removes apps and settings but keeps your personal files.

    • Remove everything: Removes all your personal files, apps, and settings.

  • Make sure that you have access to the product keys and installation files for any desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that you plan to reinstall after the reset. This includes desktop apps you installed from websites or USB drives.

Here’s how to reset your Surface:

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC and follow the on-screen instructions.

  2. If Choose an option appears again, choose Continue.

What you see

  • A black screen that says Preparing Automatic Repair and then Diagnosing your PC.

  • You may then see a blue Automatic Repair or Recovery screen.

If Automatic Repair starts when you turn on your Surface, follow the steps below.

If your Surface freezes at the Automatic Repair screen or shortly after you select an option, see Creating and using a USB recovery drive for Surface for solutions you can try.

Solution 1: Restart your Surface

On the Automatic Repair screen, select Restart.

  • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

  • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 2.

Solution 2: Continue to Windows

  1. On the Automatic Repair screen, select Advanced options.

  2. On the Choose an option screen, select Continue to exit the options screen and continue to Windows.

    • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

    • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 3.

Solution 3: Repair your Surface

  1. If the Automatic Repair screen appears again, select Advanced options.

  2. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.

  3. Select Advanced options > Startup Repair and follow the on-screen instructions.
    Windows will try to find and fix the problem.

    • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

    • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 4.

Solution 4: Perform a System Restore

A system restore will restore your Surface to an earlier point in time when Windows was working correctly.

Notes: 

  • Performing a system restore doesn’t change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed apps and drivers.

  • Make sure you have access to product keys and installation files for all desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that you may have installed after the point to which you’re restoring your Surface.

Here’s how to do a system restore on your Surface:

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options.

  2. Select System Restore and follow the on-screen instructions.

    • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

    • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 5.

Solution 5: Reset your Surface

A reset does the following:

  • Reinstalls Windows and the apps that came installed on your Surface

  • Removes all your personal settings

  • Removes all apps that you installed

  • Provides options for keeping or removing your personal files or restoring factory settings:

    • Keep my files: Removes apps and settings but keeps your personal files.

    • Remove everything: Removes all your personal files, apps, and settings.

  • Make sure that you have access to the product keys and installation files for any desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that you plan to reinstall after the reset. This includes desktop apps you installed from websites or USB drives.

Here’s how to reset your Surface:

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.

  2. Select Reset this PC and follow the on-screen instructions.

What you see

  • A black screen with a large battery icon, and your Surface shuts down immediately.

When the battery icon appears, it means the battery is critically low. If you haven’t done so already, plug in the power supply and charge your Surface.

If you already have the power supply plugged in, the problem may be with the power supply or battery. Here are some solutions to try.

Solution 1: Change the power connector orientation where possible

Important: Don’t try this solution on Surface 3. The micro USB power connector on Surface 3 plugs into the micro USB charging port with the power cord extending downward only.

If your Surface isn’t charging even when the power connector light is on, try this:

  1. Remove the power connector from your Surface, turn it over, and plug it back in. Make sure the connection is secure and the power connector light is on.

  2. Wait 10 minutes and turn on your Surface.

If your Surface still won’t turn on, go to Solution 2.

Solution 2: Force a shut down and restart

To find out how to force your Surface to shut down and restart, see Force a shut down and restart your Surface.

If Windows starts: The battery is probably very low and needs to charge for a while. When the battery has at least a 40 percent charge, install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

If Windows doesn’t start: Your Surface needs service. Go to Send my Surface in for service.

These steps work for all Windows devices.

Solution 1: Get to the Windows Recovery Environment

  1. Turn off your device and try to boot up.

  2. Try to boot up again. After two failed boot attempts, the device should automatically enter the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE).

    Note: For more info about how to shut down your device, see Force a shutdown and restart your Surface.

Solution 2: Go to the command prompt

  1. From the Choose option menu, select Troubleshoot Advanced options > Command Prompt.

  2. If prompted, enter the BitLocker recovery key and then enter the following commands at the prompt:

    • CMD> bootrec /scanos

    • CMD> bootrec /rebuildbcd

    • CMD> bootrec /fixmbr

    • CMD> bootrec /fixboot

  3. Check whether Windows starts:

    • If Windows starts: Install the latest Surface and Windows updates to help prevent future problems. For more info, see Update Surface firmware and Windows 10.

    • If Windows doesn’t start: Go to Solution 3.

Solution 3: Reset your Surface using a USB recovery drive

  1. Start your Surface by using a USB recovery drive. Insert the USB recovery drive into the USB port on your Surface, and then press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button.

  2. When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button. For more info, see Creating and using a USB recovery drive for Surface.

  3. Check whether Windows starts.

Here are some troubleshooting steps to resolve this issue.

Solution 1: Check with your IT administrator for the password

If your device is managed by someone else, such as your IT department or a different owner, check with them for the password.

If you couldn't get your password, move on to solution 2. 

Solution 2: Submit a repair request

Your Surface needs service. Go to Send my Surface in for service.

Windows still doesn't start

If you’ve tried everything and you’re still having issues, go to Device service and repairs to start a service request.

If you experience other symptoms with your Surface, here are some helpful related resources.

If your Surface …

Go to this page

  • Doesn’t turn on or respond at all when you press the power button

  • Doesn’t wake from sleep

Surface won’t turn on or wake from sleep

  • Turns on but the battery doesn’t charge when your Surface is plugged in

  • Turns on but Windows doesn’t detect the battery

  • Turns on but doesn’t recognize that it’s plugged in

  • Turns off when you remove the power supply

Surface battery won’t charge or Surface won't run on battery

  • Turns on but Windows freezes and stops responding

Windows stops responding on Surface

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