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[GUIDE] How to reinstall Windows on your Surface Pro without a recovery key

9th April 2014, 05:41 PM   |  #1  
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Okay, so some of us were in this boat. You have to reinstall Windows on your nice little Surface Pro tablet. But sadly you don't have a recovery partition or a flash drive! So what are you supposed to do?
Well, first you ask Microsoft support. That does not go well: they tell you to send them your Surface. But that's not really a good option - to lose your tablet for two weeks over a software problem? That's just not fair!
So, next, you try googling for help. But all you ever find are similar unanswered pleas for help, which usually end up being either unanswered or closed by moderators.

But fear not, as you CAN solve this, and you don't even need to do crazy things like making your own recovery image, or downloading one from weird Chinese sites.

----

HOW TO REINSTALL WINDOWS 8.1 ON YOUR SURFACE PRO WITHOUT A RECOVERY PARTITION/USB

Step 1.
Obtain a Windows 8.1 ISO. I can't tell you where to obtain one, but it is not a hard task.
The flavor Surface Pro uses is Windows 8.1 Pro x64. I used the EN-US version, as I have an American Surface, so I can't verify how other languages will work.

Step 2.
Burn that ISO to a USB drive. I suggest using Rufus for that: http://rufus.akeo.ie/

Step 3.
Boot your Surface from the USB drive.
To do that, hold the volume down button when turning on your Surface

Step 4.
Install Windows 8.1.

Step 4.5.
It will ask you for an install key, and might not accept your real Surface key. The reason for that is that the installer for Windows 8.1 does not accept Windows 8.0 keys (and your Surface might have one of those).
To proceed with installation, you will need this install key:
Quote:

XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB

This key is for installation only. IT DOES NOT ACTIVATE WINDOWS.

Step 5.
After installing the OS, you'll notice that it's not behaving quite right, for example, there are 4 rows of tiles on the start screen instead of three.
Go to Windows Update, and install everything.

Step 5.5.
If you installed with the install key, use this utility to get the original Windows key: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/thr...uct-Key-Viewer
Choose the "MSDM" option, copy that key, and activate Windows with it.

Step 6.
Enjoy your happily recovered Surface.

----

So there. That was a little guide on how to recover a Surface Pro without a recovery drive. I was in this situation myself recently, and Microsoft offered me to send my Surface to them - which would've cost me $200, as I live in a different country from the one my Surface came from, and also would've meant living without my tablet for a month or even longer. So I just fixed it all myself.
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24th April 2014, 01:56 PM   |  #2  
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A lot of people seem to be posting in that other recovery thread, so I'm just gonna make this visible again.
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3rd June 2014, 08:11 AM   |  #3  
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Only one question, do I need a keyboard or mouse for that?
Cause I've got only wireless mouse and original type cover, which does not work for some reason, and that's why I want reinstall windows.
4th June 2014, 06:02 PM   |  #4  
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I think it should pop up the on-screen keyboard if you use touch.
29th July 2014, 05:23 PM   |  #5  
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Anyone else did this process and got the Surface Pro 2 back to "out of the box" state?
10th August 2014, 12:55 AM   |  #6  
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touch screen
has anyone of you got the issue with the touch controller? and after the windows reinstall did it come back?

regards
3rd October 2014, 06:17 PM   |  #7  
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Worked perfect
Worked perfect on a MS Surface Pro 1, with windows 8.1 Pro install USB, no keyboard or mouse needed.

Thank you!
25th October 2014, 11:04 AM   |  #8  
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Thanks a heap for this guide, thought my Surface was done for.

For those unable to boot normally into Windows, holding VolKeyDown + Power while the unit is off will force the unit to boot from removable storage (doesn't have to be a USB Stick, you can plug in any kind of bootable media, including a USB DVD-ROM).

Have fun!
13th November 2014, 02:54 AM   |  #9  
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Can this works for Surface Pro 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by westjgames

Thanks a heap for this guide, thought my Surface was done for.

For those unable to boot normally into Windows, holding VolKeyDown + Power while the unit is off will force the unit to boot from removable storage (doesn't have to be a USB Stick, you can plug in any kind of bootable media, including a USB DVD-ROM).

Have fun!

Hi,

Can this method work for surface pro 2?
30th November 2014, 04:35 PM   |  #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syahchrono

Hi,

Can this method work for surface pro 2?

I'm gonna try this now on my Surface Pro 2 because I got one with only scandinavian languages and I'm from Germany ^^ Will report back!

# UPDATE #

Worked perfectly fine
Last edited by zantekk; 30th November 2014 at 06:18 PM.

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