The focus of Windows 8.x devices having both the traditional keyboard-and-mouse interface and touch-screen interface has blurred the lines between Windows being a mobile platform and a desktop platform. To add confusion, the more affordable versions of the Surface tablet run a version of Windows 8.x called Windows RT which has a similar look and feel to the traditional Windows desktop but is limited in this functionality. This page provides a guide as to how you can ensure that the Windows 8.x tablet you purchase will support the accessibility features you need.
Windows 8.x vs Windows RT
The Microsoft Surface range of tablets includes two different model types: the cheaper model referred to as ‘Surface’ and the more expensive ‘Surface Pro’. The tablets that do not include the ‘Pro’ run a version of Windows 8.x called Windows RT which is designed to be smaller and thinner than the Pro devices.
However, while the Windows RT devices look and feel almost identical to a standard Windows 8.x device and include the Microsoft Office suite, you cannot install standard Windows applications aside from the ones available in the Windows Store. This means that while you can still use all the built-in accessibility features in Windows such as the full-screen Magnifier, Narrator, high contrast and captioned video playback, you cannot at this time install third-party assistive technology software such as JAWS or any other application not available in the Windows Store.
If you do need accessibility features beyond the default Windows features, ensure that any tablet you purchase is either the ‘Pro’ model of Surface or is a Windows tablet that runs a full version of Windows as found on a more traditional desktop or laptop computer.
For more information on the accessibility features available on Windows 8.x and RT tablets, refer to the Windows 8.1 accessibility information on the Desktop section of the website.
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