I have had the Microsoft Surface RT since it first released, back in 2012, as it was given to me as a Christmas present. I was very disappointed when I found out that it utilizes an ARM processor and cannot run all the usual Windows applications. Only apps that will work on the RT are from the Windows Store (unless it’s jailbroken, but I didn’t want to do that — not worth it for a few extra applications). Even still, I have used the Surface more then I initially expected — It comes pre-installed with the basic MS Office applications (Excel, Word, OneNote, etc.) right out of the box — so it was good for note-taking. If I needed to use any actual Windows Software to perform a task (Photoshop, etc.), I can just Remote desktop into my PC using the RDP app for the Surface RT. I used my Surface more in college than my laptop because of the size–it was easier to carry around.
One major issue I had with the Surface RT was the Windows 8 start button behavior. Push the Start button and you get the following screen:
I hated clicking the Start button and getting the above screen. “What happened to the original Start button Windows is so well known for?” This is one of the reasons I never upgraded any Windows 7 desktop/laptop to Windows 8.
Anyhow, after digging up my Surface RT after a year or so, I stumbled on a technique to get the new Start Menu — much like the one on Windows 7 & 10:
I overheard, a couple years ago, that the RT was supposed to get this Start Menu upgrade with the 8.1 update, however it never happened. My RT auto-updated to Win 8.1, but Start menu did not change.
HOW TO GET THE START MENU:
Go to Windows Update by swiping from the right and selecting the Search function, type “Check for Updates”. If you don’t see update KB3033055 under list of updates, look for it under “Optional Updates“. That’s where i found mine, and it was unchecked, so obviously I did not receive it.
Once you install the update and restart the Surface, you go into your Desktop and right-click the Task bar and select “Properties”. You should get the following screen:
After accessing the “Start Menu” tab, check the box that says “Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen”. Then hit “Apply” button. After this you should be prompted by the following message:
If you have any previous work open, please go ahead and save it, then click the “Sign out and change Start”.
Now after re-logging into your account you should now have the Windows7/Windows 10 style “Start Menu” instead of a whole “Start Screen.” After logging in, you should be directed to the Desktop instead of the Start Screen.
LAYOUT OF THE NEW START BUTTON:
- Header – Includes profile name/picture
- Pinned List – There is where you see your pinned applications
- Frequently used apps – list of your most frequently used apps
- All apps – List of all your applications (much like previous Start buttons)
- Search box – A search box just like Windows 7 Start menu
- App grid – Windows 8 tiles section (pin supported Win RT apps)
To pin apps to the “Pinned List” section of your Start menu. Find an app that you want to pin and directly drag & drop the app the the list. To unpin, simply right-click and select “Remove from this list.”
To pin apps to the “App Grid” section of your start menu, simply find an App to pin and right-click and select “Pin to Start”. The unpin, simply right-click with the mouse and select “Unpin from Start.”
I’ll admit that Surface RT is an old device with a version of Windows RT and Microsoft has already basically declared it will not get Windows 10. I still believe it is a great device, regardless of how old it is. Get the “type keyboard” and a wireless mouse and RDP into any computer and you can use it basically like any PC. Surface 4 is out, and they are amazing tablets as well — I played with them at Best Buy recently. Since I just built a decent desktop, I do not feel the need to purchase a new Surface. My Surface RT is doing just fine for what I need it for. Especially now that I got rid of that hideous “Start screen” on it.