The EMX instructions (multiple buttons) are equivalent to the switches on the Spider kit.
The fact that you go through the update process but fail shows you're using the right approach, but can you please let us know what the version information from your running (in normal mode) device says, from "Device Capabilities" option in mfdeploy.exe? That way we can validate that the firmware is or isn't consistent. You can try the "legacy" firmware updater from the support page too, to help do all your updates easily.
The other way you can tell what mode a device is in is to look at your PC's Device Manager; if in a bootloader mode, you'll see a COM port, if running netmf normally you'll see a debuggable .NET device.