How To Test Windows 8 On A Tablet

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test windows 8 tabletIt’s no secret that Windows 8’s new interface is a “touch-first experience” – Microsoft said it themselves. If you’re curious about upgrading to Windows 8, you can try Windows 8 on your PC – but unless you’re using a PC with a touch screen, it just isn’t the same. Assuming you have an iPad or Android tablet lying around, you can test Windows 8 with a touchscreen before you purchase a new Windows 8 PC or tablet.

You can’t actually install Windows 8 on your tablet, but we’ll be using a few tricks to experience Windows 8 on your existing tablet’s touch screen. For a lot more detail of course, you’ll want to check out the MUO Windows 8 guide.

What You’ll Need:

  • A copy of Windows 8. If you don’t already have a copy, you can try the Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation edition, which is intended for IT professionals and app developers to test Windows 8 before deploying it. It will expire after 90 days and can’t be upgraded to the full version of Windows 8, so it’s not a good idea to install it on your computer. Still, it’s perfect for our experiment in a virtual machine.
  • A virtual machine program. We’ll be using VirtualBox here, but VMware Player or another virtual machine program will work, too.
  • An iPad or Android tablet. We used a Nexus 7 here, but a larger tablet is probably more ideal. Microsoft isn’t shipping Windows 8 on 7-inch tablets.
  • The Splashtop app, which we’ll be using to access the Windows 8 virtual machine from our tablet. It’s free for Android tablets and $1.99 for iPads.

Disclaimer: The actual experience here isn’t the same as using Windows 8 on an actual Windows 8 tablet. The virtual machine and remote streaming software detract from the computer’s performance, slowing Windows 8’s smooth interface. Splashtop also can’t function exactly like a touch screen (unless you want to buy Splashtop’s Win8 Metro Testbed app, which is intended for app developers and costs $50).

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Preparing The Virtual Machine

The first thing you’ll need to do is install Windows 8 in a virtual machine – check out our guide to installing Windows 8 in VirtualBox if you need more help. With Windows 8 in a virtual machine, you can also see how the new interface performs with a mouse and keyboard (bear in mind the virtual machine software slows things down, too).

After you’ve got Windows 8 running in a virtual machine, you’ll need to install the Splashtop Streamer application in your Windows 8 virtual machine. This will allow you to access the virtual machine and control it from  your tablet. Ensure you install the Streamer inside your virtual machine, not on your host operating system.

test windows 8 tablet

Complete the install process and set up a Splashtop account. You’ll need the account to access your Windows 8 virtual machine from your tablet.

You’ll also need to enable bridged networking mode. By default, your virtual machine will be isolated on a different local network. Splashtop will prompt you to purchase the Anywhere Access Pack unless you enabled bridged networking. To do so, click the Machine menu and select Settings. From the Network section, click the Attached to box and select Bridged Adapter. This setting will take effect immediately – you won’t have to reboot your virtual machine.

test windows 8 on android tablet

Using Windows 8 On Your Tablet

Install the Splashtop app on your tablet and log in with the Splashtop username and password associated with your account. You’ll see your Windows 8 PC in the list – tap it to connect.

test windows 8 on android tablet

Once you have, you can use Windows 8 on your tablet’s touch screen. Unfortunately, Splashtop itself is controlling the mouse cursor remotely, so this won’t feel quite like using a touchscreen. Still, many of the operations work well with touch.

You can tap something to left-click it or touch-and-hold something to right-click it. This is just how tapping and long-pressing work on Windows 8. To scroll, place two fingers on the screen and drag them over the screen. You’ll see a full list of supported gestures when you first connect to your Windows 8 system with Splashtop.

test windows 8 on android tablet

You can access a keyboard by tapping the arrow button in the corner of your screen and tapping the keyboard button. This allows you to tap the Windows key to return to your home screen after using an app, since Windows 8’s touch gestures for accessing the charms, switcher, and other operating system features by swiping in from the side of the screen don’t work with Splashtop.

windows 8 on tablet

Moving your cursor to a corner of the screen doesn’t work by default, either. To use the corners, tap the arrow button in the corner of the screen and tap the trackpad button to enable Trackpad mode. In trackpad mode, you can easily move the cursor to the corner of the screen to access the charms, switcher, and other features.

test windows 8 tablet

The Takeaway

Unfortunately, Splashtop doesn’t perfectly match the experience of using Windows 8 on a tablet. The smoothness of the interface is replaced by the jerkiness associated with all remote desktop software, and the swipe gestures to access critical navigation features aren’t available.

However, in many ways this experience is more instructive than using Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard. Tapping elements on the screen with your finger feels more natural than using a mouse and keyboard with the new Windows 8 interface. Being able to hold the Windows 8 interface in your hands will give you an idea of whether you actually want a Windows 8 tablet or not. If you’re interested, you probably should look for a local electronic store, many of which have demonstration Windows 8 PCs and tablets set up. You can try Windows 8 and get the real experience in person.

To learn more about Windows 8, download our free guide to Windows 8.

Did you try Windows 8 on your tablet via Splashtop? What did you think of it? Did you discover any tips and tricks for using Windows 8 better from your tablet? Leave a comment and let us know!

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21 Comments - Write a Comment


martyn jones

Using windows 8 right now – payed for the $39 Pro while the offer was on and I like it a lot! Using the desktop a lot at the moment and it’s running everything I had on Windows 7 and most of it faster.


Roehl Curioso

Cool Article!!


Jon Smith

thats pretty cool but they could also use the splashtop app for other OSes like linux too

Chris Hoffman

Yup, but you might as well just use it in a virtual machine at that point.


Alex Downs

I do really like 8 personally.


Osman Erkul

it’s not really the same :) the sensitive corner or side touches that activate really important things like the start interface once you ‘re on desktop is problematic ..and also the screen size never fits proportionally especially from the top .
also right sidebar activates really hard
on desktop pc these are really responsive and useful ..

Chris Hoffman

It’s true, I expected it to work better. It seems Splashtop is reserving the best features for their $50 product. A bit dissapointing. Still a cool geeky trick, though. Looks impressive, if nothing else!

“Hey look, I installed Windows 8 on my Nexus 7/iPad!”


Márcio Guerra

Really considering this in a near future!

Thank you! Cheers!



it should have a good video card then and enough ram/processor power.


Ahmed Khalil

very good idea thanks for sharing this article



Windows 8 on an iPad? Seriously? That sound’s… wrong… and pointless…

Lisa Santika Onggrid

It for the sake of curiosity. Besides, it’s done via virtualbox, so no harm done to your iPad.


Umair Adil

I doubt my Ainol Tablet PC will survive after its installation.


Paolo Maffezzoli

Interesting tip using Splashtop a remote Virtual Box VM running Windows 8. It could be interesting to test in the real life a tablet and Windows 8 .


Boni Oloff

This looks like running Windows 8 in virtual box, but in the tablet.. :D


Ron Lister

Thanks for sharing


Kshitij Verma

HAHAHAHAH LOL Ipad users have to pay for Splashtop.

So the score is
Android – 1
Apple – 0

Go Android!

Chris Hoffman

I was surprised, too!

Sahil Khanna

Jailbreak the answer lies within.


Austen Gause

ill try it with my new tab



Which version of Vitualbox for an android tablet?

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