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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Windows RT Basics

Windows RT is a brand-new version of the popular Windows operating system. Although it might look just like the version of Windows 8 that’s running on your notebook or desktop computer, it’s not the same. Windows RT is designed to run on ARM processors, while Windows 8 that you run on your notebook or desktop is designed to run on Intel processors. Is that important? Yes! You can’t install software (including drivers for printers and other hardware) onto Windows RT unless that software is specifically designed for ARM processors. When it comes to the Surface for Windows RT, that means you can’t install apps unless they come from the Windows Store, and unless Windows RT comes with a driver for your printer or other hardware, there’s a good chance that you can’t use it in Windows RT.

With all of that said, Windows RT has a huge advantage in that it is extremely power-efficient, enabling you to squeeze about 10 hours of battery life out of the device. And unlike your notebook computer, the Surface for Windows RT is capable of transitioning into a very low power state instead of going to sleep. That means that even when the device looks like it’s asleep, it’s still running and will notify you of appointments, new emails, and so forth.

The Start Screen

Windows RT doesn’t have a Start button to get things going; instead, the Start screen is the launching point for your apps. Laid out across the Start screen are brightly colored tiles. Some of these tiles are what Microsoft calls Live Tiles that display useful information about the app they represent.

For full information on using the Start screen, see Chapter 3, “Using and Customizing the Start Screen.”

App Switching and Charms

You can have multiple apps running at the same time in Windows RT, and you can easily switch between them by swiping in from the left side of the screen. You also can display two at the same time on the screen.

To access settings for an app or to search within an app (or across apps), you swipe in from the right side of the screen. When you do, you’ll see a series of vertical icons that you can use to interact with your apps and with Windows (Microsoft calls these charms).

Charms are context-sensitive. For example, if you tap the Settings charm while on the Start screen, you pull up settings for Windows, and if you tap the Settings charm while in the Music app, you pull up settings for the Music app, and so forth.

Typing in Windows RT

For the most part, you type in Windows RT just as you would on any other computer. However, there are some shortcuts to make things a bit easier. For example, Windows RT has a spell checker across the entire operating system that underlines misspelled words in a red squiggly underline. Windows RT also shows suggestions while you type in many areas, and there are other minor conveniences, such as the ability to add a period at the end of a sentence by simply double-tapping the spacebar.

You can control many of these features in the General settings of your Surface.

  1. From the Start screen, swipe in from the right side of the screen and tap the Settings charm.
  2. Tap Change PC Settings.
  3. Tap General.
  4. In the Touch Keyboard section, tap Show Text Suggestions as I Type to turn off that feature.
  5. Tap Add a Space After I Choose a Text Suggestion to turn off that feature.
  6. Tap Add a Period After I Double-Tap the Spacebar to turn off that feature.
  7. Tap Capitalize the First Letter of Each Sentence to turn off that feature.
  8. Tap Use All Uppercase Letters When I Double-Tap Shift Key to turn off that feature.
  9. Tap Play Key Sounds as I Type to turn off that feature.
  10. Swipe up to move down to the Spelling section.
  11. Tap Autocorrect Misspelled Words to turn off that feature.
  12. Tap Highlight Misspelled Words to turn off that feature.

Adding Devices

You can add new devices, such as a printer, a Bluetooth headset, and so forth.

  1. From the PC Settings screen, tap Devices.
  2. Tap Add a Device.
  3. Tap your device from the list to add it to your Surface.

Removing Devices

If you no longer need a device that you added, you can remove the device from your Surface.

  1. From the Devices PC Settings page, tap the device you want to remove.
  2. Tap the - button.
  3. Tap Remove to remove the device.


Windows RT displays notifications in a pop-up in the upper-right corner of the screen. Notifications are displayed for calendar reminders, emails, and more. When you install additional apps from the Windows Store, these apps can also display notifications.

You can control whether notification pop-ups are displayed, whether apps can display notifications on the lock screen, and whether a sound plays when a notification is displayed. You also can specify whether individual apps are allowed to display notifications.

  1. From the PC Settings screen, tap Notifications.
  2. Tap Show App Notifications to change the setting to Off and disable all notifications.
  3. Tap Show App Notifications on the Lock Screen to change the setting to Off and disable notifications on the lock screen.
  4. Tap Play Notification Sounds to change the setting to Off and disable sounds when notifications are displayed.
  5. Tap the slider for an individual app to change it to Off and disallow notifications for that app.

The Lock Screen

The lock screen is displayed when your Surface starts and when you turn on the display after it has been turned off. To get to the sign-in screen or the Start screen, swipe up on the lock screen or press the Esc key on your keyboard.

You can customize the lock screen with one of your own pictures. You also can decide which apps are allowed to show a status on the lock screen, and choose one app to show detailed status.

  1. From the PC Settings screen, tap Personalize.
  2. Tap Lock Screen.
  3. Tap a picture, or tap Browse to browse to one of your own pictures. A preview of the lock screen appears above the picture tiles.
  4. Swipe up to reveal additional lock screen options.
  5. To add an app that can display status on the lock screen, tap +.
  6. Tap an app.
  7. To change an app or remove an app from the lock screen, tap the icon for the app.
  8. Tap a different app to display, or tap Don’t Show Quick Status Here to remove the app’s status from the lock screen.
  9. To choose an app that displays detailed status on the lock screen, tap the calendar icon. (The Calendar app shows detailed status by default.)
  10. Tap an app, or tap Don’t Show Detailed Status on the Lock Screen to remove all detailed app statuses from the lock screen.

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