While Windows 8 placed considerable stress on getting users to interact with their computers through touch, Windows laptops and devices that offered touch were rare at first. Over time, though, both manufacturers and users have warmed to the technology. Microsoft and Intel have announced that over time, they intend to see the touch interface run all computers. Touch-based Windows laptops, tablets and convertibles are already common today and are more affordable than ever.
Windows RT is only available on Microsoft’s hardware
Microsoft launched Windows RT, its operating system for tablets, alongside of Windows 8. Windows RT had consumers confused at first though. While it only appeared on Microsoft’s Surface RT to begin, manufacturers like Lenovo put the OS on laptops too, over time. These laptops had users confused. Since they were laptops, users expected them to run Windows programs. They didn’t realize that the RT OS that could only run tablet apps – not Windows software. Today, though, the RT operating system has stabilized – it only appears on tablets. More specifically, it only appears on tablets made by Microsoft – the Surface, Surface 2, and the Nokia 2520 tablet (Microsoft now owns Nokia).
Lower-end Windows RT and 8.1 devices have free Office
Entry-level tablets and other devices running Windows 8.1 and RT come with free Microsoft Office Home and Student (these are full editions – not trial versions). For instance, the entry-level Surface 2 tablet has free Office. For some reason, though, the high-end Surface 2, doesn’t. Apparently, Microsoft believes that people buying serious and powerful devices would be willing to spring for a full version of Office.
Even if you do get an entry-level tablet with free Office on it, though, it’s only licensed for student and home use – not for business purposes.
If you go with a Windows tablet, you can expect difficulty finding the right apps for your needs
The app interface is an important part of Windows 8.1. Since Windows apps (as opposed to desktop-based Windows programs) are primarily intended for touch-based use, you will probably want a good selection of apps to choose from when you buy a touchscreen-enabled laptop. If you buy an RT-based tablet, instead, apps are all you can use.
Unfortunately, Windows Store doesn’t stock a wide selection of apps of the kind you see on the Android or iOS app outlets. While many popular services do have apps – Netflix, Facebook, Dropbox, Kindle and Skype, among others – there are no Google apps (save for the Google Search app). The apps you do find on Windows Store often do not offer a very polished interface, either (Flipboard, is an example). Before you decide to buy a Windows RT tablet, you should search on Windows Store at windows.microsoft.com/en-ca/windows-8/apps. You should only go ahead with your purchase if you find what you like.
Using Windows 8.1 on a touch-based computer isn’t likely to be a smooth experience
For a touchscreen to be any use, you need all the on-screen controls to be large enough to easily aim for with your finger. Since the on-screen icons, buttons and other controls on Windows 8.1 are too small and closely packed for accurate selection with a finger, you won’t have much use for your touchscreen when you use it on a tablet or touch-based laptop. The most that you will probably do with the touchscreen on Windows desktop is to pause or play videos, flip through photos or perhaps click on Google results. You shouldn’t buy a touch-enabled device hoping to use regular Windows with touch. You’ll just keep hitting the wrong controls.
Should you buy a Windows touch device?
To buy a Surface tablet makes little sense, considering that Windows Store has a very small selection of apps. A Windows tablet can make sense, though, when it is designed like an Asus Transformer series device – a tablet that you get by detaching the screen. If you’re going to spend money on a laptop anyway, you might as well get one that can serve as a tablet. This way, when you need to watch videos are read an e-book, you can quickly detach the screen of the laptop and use it as a tablet.