Windows 10 (1903) Clean Install on Surface Laptop – what a mess


whatever the source of the problem (I guess it was a firmware update on the surface paired with the latest skip ahead version) caused my Surface Laptop to boot into recovery mode – the situation as is, is bad enough. made even worse when I decided “what the heck let’s start all over and install 1903 from scratch” – nieghter the internal keyboard was supported, nor touch – with one USB port only had to toggle between RJ45 (was in a no WIFI location) and a USB keyboard to enter whatever values (password/username) were required. after a few (many) updates had been applied I was finally able to use the internal keyboard to finish the setup…. guys (@Microsoft) I don’t know if you can do better, you certainly couldn’t do worse

Comments (14)

14 responses to “Windows 10 (1903) Clean Install on Surface Laptop – what a mess”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    I'm surprised that you experienced this, honestly.

    • jean

      In reply to paul-thurrott:


      Windows 10 Enterprise 64btt English


      System Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation

      System Model Surface Laptop

      System Type x64-based PC

      System SKU Surface_Laptop

      Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-7200U CPU @ 2.50GHz, 2712 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)System with

      BIOS Version/Date Microsoft Corporation 137.2706.768, 18/04/2019

      SMBIOS Version 3.1

    • euskalzabe

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Paul, I was as baffled as you are. Then because of travelling circumstances I had to do the same last month while traveling, and disaster ensued. I was able to clean install 1903 from a USB stick, but as JEAN posted, nothing worked. The actual keyboard wasn't even working, nor the proper display adapter resolution, nor a bunch of other things. It was BAD. Of course I had no internet access at the time, but got away with Device Manager, connecting to my phone's LTE hotspot, installed the minimum to get going... and in subsequent days I got everything kind of working, but wonky and behaving erratically. So much so that I'm finally just now doing a proper restore from a MS Surface Laptop recovery image.

      Who would've thought, that a regular, clean image by the actual device manufacturer would result in such a poor experience. I've had better results with a mere Asus laptop, for crying out loud...

      • illuminated

        In reply to euskalzabe:

        After seeing Microsoft surfaces being last in the line for windows updates I am not surprised. It is embarrassing for Microsoft for sure but they are concentrating on their cloud and probably have just one part-time intern working on surface firmware :)

  2. longhorn

    If the Surface devices aren't supported out of the box with Windows 1903 that's crazy. What's the point of a rapid release model if you don't support the latest hardware, let alone your own devices?

  3. james_b

    Why the rush to get this? It's likely buggy as I'll get out. Wait to adopt this and you'll experience far fewer problems.

    • jean

      In reply to James_B:
      I beg to disagree, I do maintain 2 of my laptops with Insider Fast ever since the insider program has been introduced with close to zero problems. 2 more with the current builds - all the same. What really puzzled me is the fact that the windows 10 clean install is in such a bad shape.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to James_B:

      The rush? It was finalized it March. Why on earth would it not work perfectly on Microsoft's own PCs right away?

  4. madthinus

    Question, did you restore using a restore image or with a the 1903 Clean install media from the media creation tool?

    • jean

      In reply to madthinus:

      I used a clean install media (USB Stick) with 1903 Enterprise (downloaded from MAPS)

      • evox81

        In reply to jean:

        Yeah... clean installs don't work well (or at all) [Edit: on surface devices]. Welcome to the club of those of us who have learned this the hard way.

        I could never get my Surface 3 to work correctly with a clean install. I had to wipe it off and restore all over again with a restore image. If was half functional but there were a lot of problems that no amount of troubleshooting could resolve (storage related if I recall correctly).

  5. robinwilson16

    Also the fact the clean install process uses the UI from Windows Vista shows they are not showing it much love :(

    You would think their own drivers would be ones they would embed at least.

    Still, most systems in general seem to find all the correct drivers post setup these days so no longer have to use another PC to download the WiFi drivers or anything like that.

  6. Tony Barrett

    Surface firmware is totally f*cked up, and the fact MS can't even get their own hardware working with their own software is not only embarrassing but downright incompetent. Considering how much these Surface devices cost, and the problems customers have had, I'm surprised there hasn't been a riot or class action lawsuit.