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Windows RT 8.1 downgrade?

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By Screeny, Junior Member on 21st November 2013, 08:32 AM
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Hi there,

just a short question: Is it possible to downgrade a Surface using Windows RT 8.1 to Windows RT (without the 8.1)?
I read something about a recovery USB image but this solution wasn't working for me. (Yeah, I deleted the recovery partition before...) My surface arrived with RT 8.1 so I don't have a USB containing Windows RT. Can I use another USB stick from another tablet?

BR
Screeny
 
 
21st November 2013, 12:22 PM |#2  
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You would probably need a recovery image for the Surface and not from some other similar tablet.
Not sure on this though, so don't quote me on this.


I have been trying to downgrade my Lenovo Yoga 11, but I haven't had any luck with the RT 8.0 recovery image found here:
forums_lenovo_com/t5/Idea-Windows-based-Tablets-and/Yoga-11-Windows-RT-Recovery/td-p/1220234
(replace underlines with dots to follow the link, can't post links due to being a newcomer...)

Not surprising, but it seems that we are actively being locked out from going back to RT 8.0


Most annoying thing in my opinion is that the tilt sensor doesn't work, so I would have to manually choose to rotate the screen
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21st November 2013, 12:44 PM |#3  
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Most of the time its user error, hence why it was so highly recommended to check that you know how to use a recovery drive before removing the partition on the device. Several users have downgraded to 8.0 via recovery, there is nothing locking you out from doing so.




But yes. If its a first generation surface, you can get a surface RT 8.0 recovery image to downgrade. Microsoft host the US one themselves and then Trig0r on these forums have Surface RT 8.0 recoveries for all languages on his own file server (PM him).
The recovery image you use should be specific to the device. A yoga recovery would not work properly on a surface and vice versa (it will boot but drivers will be wrong).

If its a Surface 2. There never was an 8.0 image for them. You cannot downgrade it.
21st November 2013, 02:10 PM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixSixSevenSeven

Most of the time its user error, hence why it was so highly recommended to check that you know how to use a recovery drive before removing the partition on the device. Several users have downgraded to 8.0 via recovery, there is nothing locking you out from doing so.




But yes. If its a first generation surface, you can get a surface RT 8.0 recovery image to downgrade. Microsoft host the US one themselves and then Trig0r on these forums have Surface RT 8.0 recoveries for all languages on his own file server (PM him).
The recovery image you use should be specific to the device. A yoga recovery would not work properly on a surface and vice versa (it will boot but drivers will be wrong).

If its a Surface 2. There never was an 8.0 image for them. You cannot downgrade it.

Got it! Recovery wasn't working for me because the stick wasn't recognized as bootable.

Now I found a workaround (maybe this is working for the Surface 2 too? Would be very nice! Could some test it, please?)

At first create a bootable recovery stick with the current Windows RT version (maybe a downloaded image will work too). Download the recovery image for Windows RT 8.0 (search for Surface RT Recovery Image (Windows RT 8.0) ) and copy the "sources\Install.wim" file to your created bootable recovery stick.

Because my english isn't so good, here a short to-do list:
  • Use your surface to create a recovery USB stick with Windows 8.1
  • Download Windows RT 8.0 recovery image from Microsoft
  • Copy the file "install.wim" (located under "sources" from your downloaded 8.0 recovery image to your 8.1 recovery USB stick
  • Boot your surface with the 8.1 recovery USB
  • Start a cmd session (after choosing "Troubleshoot" -> "Advanced options" ...)
  • Use diskpart to delete both recovery partitions and the system partition
  • Create a new partition and format it with NTFS
  • Make it active and assign this partition a drive letter (for example G:)
  • Close diskpart
  • Use dism to install the Windows 8.0 image to your drive (if you saved the "install.wim" from the Windows RT 8.0 image to your USB sticks root dir, use this command: dism /apply-image /imagefile:D:\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:G:\
  • After applying the image use bootrec /fixboot
  • Close cmd and restart your Surface

This worked for me like a charm :)

Greetings
Screeny
22nd November 2013, 10:25 AM |#5  
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Hmm, maybe my recovery files are messed up or something.

I haven't been able to get it to boot correctly from the usb-stick (if at all).
The led flashes on the stick, and i was able to wipe the hdd (not sure if that was from a ram-disk or the stick).
I assumed that the recovery process would be able to partion the ssd but apperently not.
Now the problem is that it does not want to boot from my usb-stick, I have tried 2 different sticks with the same result:

It skips them both even though they are bootable and should have the files necessary.
22nd November 2013, 02:49 PM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheExileFox

Hmm, maybe my recovery files are messed up or something.

I haven't been able to get it to boot correctly from the usb-stick (if at all).
The led flashes on the stick, and i was able to wipe the hdd (not sure if that was from a ram-disk or the stick).
I assumed that the recovery process would be able to partion the ssd but apperently not.
Now the problem is that it does not want to boot from my usb-stick, I have tried 2 different sticks with the same result:

It skips them both even though they are bootable and should have the files necessary.

YOu know the tablet wont automatically boot from USB unless you tell it to?
23rd November 2013, 12:14 PM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixSixSevenSeven

YOu know the tablet wont automatically boot from USB unless you tell it to?

Yes, I have tried holding down vol+/vol- while starting it and it doesn't seem to do anything.
23rd November 2013, 12:33 PM |#8  
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You turn the tablet off. Then press and hold volume down, try to power it on while still holding the button. You dont release the volume down button until the surface splash screen appears.
If that still doesn't work then you haven't created the recovery USB properly.


The other way to boot from USB (but won't alter whether it will boot from an improper recovery image of course) for Surface RT's which do boot is to swipe the charms bar in, go to settings, Change PC Settings, Update or Recovery, Recovery, Advanced Startup, Restart Now, on the choose an option screen select Use A Device which should open a troubleshoot screen where you can select advanced options and finally the name of your USB device.
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21st December 2013, 11:53 AM |#9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixSixSevenSeven

You turn the tablet off. Then press and hold volume down, try to power it on while still holding the button. You dont release the volume down button until the surface splash screen appears.
If that still doesn't work then you haven't created the recovery USB properly.


The other way to boot from USB (but won't alter whether it will boot from an improper recovery image of course) for Surface RT's which do boot is to swipe the charms bar in, go to settings, Change PC Settings, Update or Recovery, Recovery, Advanced Startup, Restart Now, on the choose an option screen select Use A Device which should open a troubleshoot screen where you can select advanced options and finally the name of your USB device.

Solved that yesterday, the issue was not the procedure but the tool to make the usb-sticks bootable. Thanks anyway.
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5th February 2014, 04:06 PM |#10  
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I was able to downgrade my Surface RT with Windows 8.1 (it came with 8.1 pre-installed) to Windows 8.0 using someone's else recovery image and using above procedure...

everything works fine! I'm happy - I jailbreaked it and can run unsigned apps...

the only problem is I cannot activate my surface anymore... it looks like MS blocked product key which was used in recovery image...

do you have any ideas how I can fix it?

Thanks

---------------------
If anyone is interested: I activated my Surface today using telephone activation system
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20th February 2014, 01:06 PM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Screeny

  • Use your surface to create a recovery USB stick with Windows 8.1
  • Download Windows RT 8.0 recovery image from Microsoft
  • Copy the file "install.wim" (located under "sources" from your downloaded 8.0 recovery image to your 8.1 recovery USB stick
  • Boot your surface with the 8.1 recovery USB
  • Start a cmd session (after choosing "Troubleshoot" -> "Advanced options" ...)
  • Use diskpart to delete both recovery partitions and the system partition
  • Create a new partition and format it with NTFS
  • Make it active and assign this partition a drive letter (for example G
  • Close diskpart
  • Use dism to install the Windows 8.0 image to your drive (if you saved the "install.wim" from the Windows RT 8.0 image to your USB sticks root dir, use this command: dism /apply-image /imagefile:\install.wim /index:1 /applydir:G:\
  • After applying the image use bootrec /fixboot
  • Close cmd and restart your Surface

This worked for me like a charm

I haven't followed your exact steps, but I managed to install windows 8 on my Surface that shipped with 8.1 but now it's telling me it's not activated. Did you have any problems with activation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by twister2000

I was able to downgrade my Surface RT with Windows 8.1 (it came with 8.1 pre-installed) to Windows 8.0 using someone's else recovery image and using above procedure...

Did you use Screeny's procedure? How did you activate over the phone?

Thank you both
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