Since tablets these days are amazingly powerful little devices, many people are starting to wonder if they can replace a regular laptop completely. Especially now that there are some great Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets available, the prospect of working entirely from a tablet is indeed looking more likely.
However, in the case of Windows RT, this is not quite as easy as you might think. This is because Windows RT is not anything like a regular windows install – It looks like Windows 8, but it’s really very different. Most notably, you can’t install regular Windows applications on it. You can only install apps from the Windows Store, similar to using an iPad or Android tablet. That’s not to say that working from your Windows RT tablet is impossible, though. You may be surprised.
Completing Day-To-Day Work On A Windows RT Tablet
You may recall that recently Christian wrote an article about trying to do all his regular day-to-day work using only a tablet. His experiment proved to be somewhat difficult, although I’d say his day-to-day work needs were more involved than most people would need. I won’t be trying anything of the sort, as I already know that there are certain things I just cannot do using Windows RT involving programs I can’t install. This doesn’t rule out using the Windows RT tablet for a large portion of my work though.
You’ll find that the Windows RT store has a huge selection of applications, however many popular tools do not yet have an official app. For instance, you won’t yet find apps for: Remember The Milk; Facebook; Twitter; most Google tools; Flickr; LinkedIn; Tumblr; Pinterest; GoodReads; Delicious; and much more. This is not the end of the world, though. Read on!
Personally, I use a lot of web apps like Google Documents and other Google products. Gmail can be set up quickly with the native Windows RT email program, and the native calendar application will easily sync with your primary Google Calendar. It’s not quite seamless , as you can’t use Gmail functions like Starring and you won’t automatically see all your other Google Calendars. However, with a little program called gSync, you can get your other calendars back. Google Documents and other Google tools can be opened in the browser and used that way.
For all of the web apps you use on a daily basis, just navigate to the page in Windows Explorer then pin the page to your Start Menu (swipe up from the bottom to get the pin option). You’ll then be able to group it with other apps you use and have quick access to it when you need it. I’ve found almost all of the web apps I use regularly work quite well in Explorer, barring a few exceptions that use Java or flash. Internet Explorer in Windows RT is unable to install add-ons, which rules out Java, and will only run Flash on a whitelist of sites.
Windows RT has a selection of popular Office applications ready to use natively: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. All of these apps are set up to automatically sync your files to Skydrive so that you can work on them elsewhere seamlessly.
Essential Windows RT Apps To Download For Daily Use
To get you started, here are some truly useful applications which will help you to make the most of Windows RT. All of these links will open in a browser, then if you’re using your Windows RT tablet it will offer to open the app page in the store for you.
- gSync – For syncing all your Google Calendars
- LastPass – For password management (use it in split-screen mode to copy and paste credentials into websites)
- XMarks – To access your everyday bookmarks from your regular computer (use this in split-screen mode to easily pin all your favourite web apps)
- Evernote – Access all of your notes.
- Dropbox – Access your documents.
- Box – Access your documents.
- Basecamp – Co-ordinate your projects and to-do lists.
- gTasks – Sync your Google tasks locally.
- EBay – Keep track of eBay sales.
- Amazon – Easily shop at any Amazon store.
- Skitch – Powerful, yet simple annotation tool for images.
- IM+ – Use all your IM accounts in the same app.
- Note Anytime – Great note-taking app.
- Share All – Easily share anything to Facebook or Twitter.
Some programs, like Skype and Kindle come pre-loaded with Windows RT. For your other entertainment needs, browse around the Windows RT store. There are some fantastic apps available. In fact, sometimes there is too much choice.
Multitasking With Windows RT
With many tablets, it’s impossible to multi-task. However, with Windows RT you can multi-task in two easy ways: switching between open applications by swiping from the left to right; or using two applications at once by dragging another open application in partially and locking it in place.
Limitations And Strengths Of Windows RT
Windows RT is limited to store apps, which rules out using any of your regular Windows applications. If you must use Windows apps, find a tablet running Windows 8 instead. Another limitation of this decision is that the Windows store doesn’t yet have a lot of popular applications available. Check out another MakeUseOf article on what you can and can’t do using Windows RT.
The limitations of Windows RT do seem to work in its favor though, as it is a very stable OS. You are unlikely to have problems with malware either, as you can only get apps through the store and the only browser is limited deliberately.
Despite the limitations, Windows RT is quite powerful and designed very well. It’s easy to see yourself using it on a regular basis to replace a laptop. The app store will only get bigger and meanwhile web apps are generally quite accessible.
More To Read If You’re Buying A Tablet
If you are considering buying a tablet, there are more than a few previous MakeUseOf articles you should check out first. Read about things to know before you buy a tablet, reasons to buy a tablet, ways to use a tablet to boost your productivity at work, reasons to buy Android tablets over iPads (some of those reasons may lead you to consider Windows tablets too), reasons to buy a cheap tablet, our Microsoft Surface tablet review, and crucial things to know before traveling with your tablet.
So, can a Windows RT tablet replace my laptop?
In conclusion, I knew from the start I could never completely replace my laptop with a Windows RT tablet, but I am very impressed with the sheer amount of things I can do with it, the quality of some of the apps and how user-friendly the whole Windows RT experience is. I can certainly do a LOT of work on the Windows RT tablet, which is good enough for me.
Have you tried using a Windows RT tablet? Could you replace your laptop with it?