Windows RT has not had the auspicious start Microsoft was hoping for. Various issues have cropped up for early adopters, not least the confusion over the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8. We actually found the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT an interesting addition to the competitive tablet landscape, but it seems other Windows RT devices are not capturing the public imagination, and price cuts have followed as a consequence.
Every platform has its fair share of teething troubles, but few attract this level of vitriol. So, what’s the big deal? Let’s take a look at the main Windows RT problems that seem to be generating complaints. Wherever possible we’ll suggest solutions or workarounds.
Problem: Lack of storage
Wait a minute, where did all my storage go? If you buy a 32GB Surface RT tablet then you may be legitimately surprised to find there’s only 16GB free. If you get the 64GB version you’ll have about 45GB free. Here’s a breakdown of how Windows RT gobbles up 13GB of storage and where the rest went.
Workarounds: You can always expand the storage with a microSD (or standard SD, depending on your device) card, just be careful to choose a reputable brand and stay within the manufacturer’s supported guidelines. The Surface with RT can handle a 64GB microSD card. You could also use the USB port to attach a Flash drive or an external hard drive to boost your storage space. Your final option is to use cloud storage like Microsoft’s SkyDrive or the Dropbox app.
Problem: Random muting
A lot of users with Surface RT devices report random muting and unmuting. This issue was thought to be related to the Touch or Type cover, but Microsoft released an update which is supposed to fix it.
Solution: Attach the cover and swipe from the right edge to get access to Settings > Change PC settings > Windows update and tap Check for updates now.
Problem: Flash sites not working
When Windows RT launched the default browser, Internet Explorer 10, had an embedded version of Flash, but a lot of people complained that specific websites wouldn’t work for them. This is because Microsoft went with a whitelist approach, so any website not deemed “compatible” by them and added to the whitelist would not be able to use Flash. In reality many websites that would work just fine were not included on the whitelist.
Workaround: You could prevent any updates to the whitelist and edit it yourself to include the websites you want to enable Flash on. You’ll find instructions on how to do this in this XDA Developers forum thread.
Solution: Microsoft decided to switch to a blacklist approach instead, which means that Flash will work on every site except for a small list that Microsoft is deliberately blocking due to problems with compatibility. A Windows update was released to affect this change, so make sure you have the latest update if you are still experiencing problems.
Problem: No Silverlight support for video
A number of websites use Microsoft’s Silverlight technology for video content, such as Time Warner Cable, the Sky TV player in the UK, and others. However, Silverlight is not supported by IE10 and you can’t add it.
This is part of the push towards HTML5, though it seems inconsistent that Microsoft has opened up Flash support and yet won’t support its own Silverlight technology. There is no known workaround or solution for this right now.
Problem: Windows RT keeps crashing or freezing
If you find that Windows RT keeps crashing and you can’t identify a common cause then there are a few things worth trying.
- You should get updates automatically, but you can check. Make sure you have the latest updates by swiping from the right edge to get access to Settings > Change PC settings > Windows update and tap Check for updates now.
- Refresh by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tap Settings > Change PC settings > General and then scroll down to Refresh your PC without affecting your files then tap Get started and follow the instructions.
- You could also reset, but this will delete all of your personal files, settings, and any apps that you installed. Reset by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tap Settings > Change PC settings > General and then scroll down to Remove everything and reinstall Windows then tap Get started and follow the instructions.
If you notice that the crashing is related to a specific app then you should try the following:
- Make sure you have the latest updates by swiping from the right edge to get access to Settings > Change PC settings > Windows update and tap Check for updates now.
- Make sure that the app is up to date by swiping from the right edge to get access to Settings > App updates and then tap Install if there are any.
- If the tablet still crashes when you use a specific app, just uninstall the app.
Problem: Audio stuttering
A number of users have been complaining that the audio on video or music playback sometimes stutters. The issue is apparently much worse when the screen times out, or when music is being played in the background.
Workaround: You could keep the screen on to reduce the problem if you find it is worse when the screen times out. Go to Start > Desktop and then click on the battery icon in the bottom right and choose More power options > Change plan settings and tweak the Sleep time and then Save changes.
Solution: Make sure your Windows RT tablet is up to date, as Microsoft has been releasing a steady stream of updates and fixes.
Problem: Can’t find Wi-Fi networks or connection drops
Many people have complained about their Windows RT devices being unable to find Wi-Fi networks. Some users have also found that the connection randomly drops while they are using it.
Workarounds: Some people have found a temporary reprieve from the problem by turning Wi-Fi off and on again (you could also do this by switching to Airplane mode and out again), or you could reboot the tablet.
Possible solutions: If you are prepared to try and tweak router settings or even edit your registry, then you’ll find some potential fixes in a post on the Microsoft support forum. Microsoft also released a firmware update for the Surface RT on April 9 which was intended to fix a number of Wi-Fi issues and improve the overall reliability. It should automatically install on your tablet if you have a Surface RT.
Other Windows RT problems
If you’ve encountered any other specific Windows RT problems then post a comment. If you’ve found a reliable fix for any of the problems mentioned, or another issue, then please do share it. Microsoft is continuing to push out fairly regular updates and so some problems will be dealt with over time. We can also expect the core apps and platform to improve, but can it come soon enough to prevent any more disgruntled users from jumping ship?