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How to Set Up a Windows 8.1 Tablet



Tablets built for Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system are a strange beast. Essentially, they each have two separate identifies that allow users to get work done and enjoy their television shows, music and movies. This makes setting up a Windows 8 tablet a bit cumbersome.

The first of those distinct personalities is its tablet persona. Every installation of Windows 8 that’s loaded onto a tablet, or anything with a touchscreen, includes the Start Screen. The Start Screen is a new area that lets users quickly get to their apps and glance at their latest emails or social media updates without having to open individual applications. The Start Screen also includes its own web browser, a store for downloading more applications, specific ways of printing and more.

The Dell Venue 8 Pro along with the Dell XPS 11 Pro in the background.

The Dell Venue 8 Pro along with the Dell XPS 11 Pro in the background.

The second of these personalities is the Desktop. Don’t be fooled if you haven’t heard the name before. The Desktop isn’t yet another interface that you have to learn how to use. In fact, the Desktop is going to be the most familiar thing you encounter in your Windows 8.1 tablet experience. Think of the Desktop as what Windows used to be like. It’s virtually unchanged in Windows 8.1. Sure, there are some new taskbars and apps there, but it’s still the same Windows operating system you’ve encountered elsewhere. It’s just faster and takes up less storage space.

Read: 3 Tips for A Better Windows 8 Tablet Experience

Before we begin setting up your Windows tablet, I can’t express how important it is for you to have everything you need at your disposal during the setup. You’ll need your tablet’s power cable. Also, you’ll need the username and password for your Microsoft Account. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of a Microsoft Account: if you have an Outlook, Hotmail or Xbox Live account, it’s the same thing with a different name.

The Initial Setup

Plug the device’s charger into a wall and into the tablet. Each Windows tablet features its own unique power adapter. Most tablets made by Dell and Lenovo use either their respective laptop chargers or a MicroUSB charger that is identical to the cables used to charge almost every smartphone except the iPhone. Microsoft’s Surface tablets use their own custom charger that has five holes on its connector.

The Microsoft Surface 2

The Microsoft Surface 2

Hold down the power button to turn the device on and begin the setup process. You may have do to this for five seconds or so.

Now specify what language you’d like the tablet to use. Devices sold in the United States typically use English as the default.

Decide on a name for your tablet. This can be any combination of letters and numbers but there can’t be any spaces. This name is used when other devices encounter your tablet on your home network, or when you’re configuring settings for OneDrive syncing.

Every piece of software these days includes Terms and Conditions. Essentially, it’s an agreement between you and Microsoft that protects them for being sued in certain situations and lets you know what your rights are as a Windows tablet buyer. You don’t have to read through them but you do have to agree to them before you proceed with the setup.


Now you’ll need to configure your wireless network. That means you’ll need to enter your Wi-Fi password so that you can get updates and browse the internet on your Windows tablet. Tablets running Windows 8.1 will allow users to simply connect to their network with a push of a button. However, doing so requires that users have a relatively modern wireless router. Tap or click on your Wi-Fi network and then walk over to your Wi-Fi router to see if it has a Connect button like what’s shown in the photo above. If it doesn’t you’ll need to enter your Wi-Fi password. If your cable or satellite company setup your wireless than they should have left you a pamphlet with this information on it. It could also be taped to the bottom of your wireless router.

Just tap or click on Express Settings and then add your Microsoft Account to your device. Doing so ensures that you’ll get the latest updates automatically, have OneDrive syncing capabilities and access to the Windows Store to download apps.

After a set-up process you’ll be taken to the Start Screen.

Essential Guides

Though you’re now logged in and all setup on your Windows tablet, I want to stress how important it is for you to keep educating yourself on the capabilities of your device. Here’s a collection of the most important Windows 8.1 tutorials you’ll need.


How to Add a Background to the Start Screen in Windows 8.1

How to Set Parental Controls in Windows 8.1

How to Resize Live Tiles in Windows 8.1

Media & Apps

How Remove Apps in Windows 8.1

How to Install Apps in Windows 8.1

How to Add Music to Xbox Music on Your Windows 8.1 Device

How to Open More than One Internet Explorer Window in Windows 8.1


How to Back Up Files and Settings to OneDrive in Windows 8.1

How to Print from Windows 8.1

How to Turn Off SkyDrive Syncing in Windows 8.1

How to Setup Apps to Open in the Desktop in Windows 8.1

How to Turn Off the Start Screen in Windows 8.1

How to Check Your Battery Life in Windows 8.1

Once you’ve finished setting up and customizing your device, explore what your new Windows 8 tablet can do. Microsoft’s unique approach to creating tablets means that there are going to be tons of useful, but hidden, features you’ll want to try out. tracked down more than a few of them in our look at Windows 8.1.



  1. Dr. Roland E. Kehr, Jr.

    04/27/2014 at 2:52 pm

    Travis, than you for your insightful articles. A number of these Windows 8.1 tablets do not have enough disk space to do even a simple “system refresh”. Perhaps you could do a concise and straight forward piece on setting up a bootable flash drive to overcome this problem. If you do, please assume that some know of us don’t know all the little abbreviations that seem to pop up when setting up back up media. Thank you.
    Dr. Roland Kehr

  2. Dee

    08/12/2016 at 1:03 pm

    How can I change the date and time. I can’t use the internet because it keeps telling me the certificates are not recgnized. I am really stuck.

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