Surface Pro, Day 7: Installing software


30 Days with Surface Pro: Day 7

I spent Day 6 of the 30 Days with Surface Pro series exploring the pros and cons of the Windows Store. On a Surface RT (or other device running Windows RT) the Windows Store is the only option for finding and installing new software. With a Surface Pro (or other device running the full Windows 8 OS), though, I can also install any traditional Windows software. The question is, “How?”

No, it’s not a trick question. The problem is that the Surface Pro doesn’t have any DVD drive built in, so I have to find creative solutions for getting legacy software I have that’s on a DVD installed on the tablet.

One option–since the Surface Pro is a full Windows PC complete with a USB port–would be to employ an external USB DVD drive. Simple enough. Just connect it to the USB port, and it will show up in Windows Explorer as a new drive letter. Then I can just insert discs and install software as I always have.

But, I don’t have an external DVD drive laying around, so I can’t use that option. I do still have the USB port available to me, though. I can use another PC in my house–one that is equipped with a DVD drive–and copy the files and data from my DVDs onto USB thumb drives, or an external USB hard drive. Then, I can connect it to the USB port and install it just as I could with the external DVD drive.

Another method, if there’s another PC available that has a DVD drive, is to simply share the DVD drive over the network. If I do that, I can access my software and install it over the network directly from the original DVDs and skip the step where I have to copy it all to different media first.

What if I just have the Surface Pro, though, with no other PC available to play intermediary? Well, for legacy software I already own that happens to be on discs, I’m sort of screwed. I have to either connect an external DVD drive, copy the files from the DVDs onto a USB thumb drive or hard drive, or have access to a network share where I can access or copy the files to somehow.

But, for any new software I might purchase, the simplest solution is to buy the software online in the first place. For example, I can search the Windows Store for Microsoft Office, and it shows up as an option–but directs me out of the Windows Store to get it. When I click on the link to “Go to publisher’s website”, it takes me to the Microsoft Office site where I can choose one of the Office 2013 suites, or subscribe to Office 365. Whichever I choose, though, I can either download the installation files and save them locally, or I can just install it directly over the Internet.

Most of the software I buy these days is downloadable. I purchase it online, and I’m directed to a website to download the software, or I receive an email with a link to download the software. I still need some way in the short run to install older software I already bought which happens to be on DVDs, but buying and installing software on the Surface Pro works best with online purchases and downloadable applications.

Day 6: Good, bad, and ugly of Windows 8 Store
Day 8: Configuring the Start screen


About Author

Tony Bradley is Editor-in-Chief of TechSpective and Community Manager for Tenable Network Security. Tony has a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security. He also loves spending time with his family and likes to think he enjoys reading and golf even though he never finds the time for either.