Managing Microsoft and Windows Updates for Surface

You should update your devices made for Surface across your organization by using Microsoft Update or Windows Update to ensure a consistent and reliable Microsoft Surface experience for all your users. Windows Update provides high-priority and optional updates for the Windows 7 operating system and new or updated hardware drivers. Microsoft Update provides updates for other Microsoft software that is installed on your device, which includes all Surface software. For more information about these programs, see

This topic describes how to use Windows Update and Microsoft Update on your devices made for Surface.

Microsoft Surface and Automated Updates

Windows Update continuously checks for updates and notifies you when important or recommended updates are available. Windows Update operates in the background by using the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) technology, which assesses updates by using idle bandwidth.

By default, each device made for Surface automatically checks for software updates from Windows Update and Microsoft Update and then allows you to choose whether to download and install the updates. This configuration allows you to enter Windows mode, view recently available updates, and choose to download and install the updates. After you apply the updates, you can enter Surface mode to make the device accessible to users again.

Choosing Update Settings for New Devices Made for Surface

You must configure update settings on new devices made for Surface. Otherwise, update settings are not configured on new devices. Use the following recommended settings for Microsoft Update and Windows Update:

  • Turn on Windows Update.

  • Turn on Microsoft Update.

  • Turn on recommended updates.

  • Select the Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them option.

Do not enable Windows Update or Microsoft Update to automatically download and install updates during a time when the device made for Surface is in Surface mode. Instead, review available updates and install them when the device is in Windows mode. If you have a group or domain that has a Group Policy setting that overrides the default Surface settings for Windows Update, make sure the Group Policy setting does not apply to the device made for Surface.

The following illustration shows how to choose the recommended settings for Windows Update and Microsoft Update.

Windows Update Change Settings dialog box
Under Who can install updates, the setting Allow all users to install updates on this computer should never be selected. If this option is turned on, Windows may try to install updates while the device made for Surface is in Surface mode, which can degrade the user experience. Updates should be installed only while the unit is in Windows mode.

You can change these settings at any time by opening Control Panel, clicking System and Security, clicking Windows Update, and then clicking Change settings in the left pane.

Updating Networked Devices Made for Surface

With Windows Update, you can also automatically update one device made for Surface or a small group of devices. However, if you are managing a network of 10 or more devices, you should probably manage the update process on your network (for example, by using Windows Server Update Services). By managing the update process, you have more control over which updates are installed and when they are installed.

Like all computers on your corporate network, any Group Policy settings for Microsoft Update or Windows Update will override default settings on individual devices.

Using Windows Server Update Services to Update Devices Made for Surface

Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) is a free add-on for the Windows Server operating system to help you manage updates for computers and devices made for Surface on a network. By using WSUS together with an Active Directory Group Policy, you can manage update settings and distribute updates. For more information about how to use WSUS, see Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) on the TechNet website.

Microsoft also provides the Microsoft System Center family of business software for managing desktop computers, devices made for Surface, and servers in medium to large organizations. For more information, see the Microsoft System Center website.

Customizing Windows Server Update Services for Devices Made for Surface

WSUS includes a complete programmable and scriptable API that you can use to create custom updating behavior for WSUS. You can use the WSUS API to determine which updates apply to a device made for Surface or a group of devices, download those updates, and install them with little or no user intervention. You can also integrate WSUS features into computer management or update management software to provide a seamless operating environment. For more information, see Windows Update Server Services on the MSDN website.

Restarting a Device Made for Surface During Updates

In general, after you review available updates and choose which ones to download, Windows Update and Microsoft Update automatically install them. However, some updates, such as service packs, require your consent before Windows Update or Microsoft Update will install them. If you reset or shut down the device made for Surface while these updates install, you could corrupt the device. Allow the update process to finish before you restart the device made for Surface.

Windows Update Reporting

Windows Update reports information back to Microsoft about which updates have installed successfully and which, if any, could not be installed. This information helps Microsoft verify the quality of the updates that Windows Update provides. Windows Update does not send or store any personally identifiable information (PII) for Microsoft or with the report. For more information, see the Windows Update privacy statement.

Windows Update keeps a log of all the actions that it performed on a particular system in the %windir%\windowsupdate.log file.

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