How to Use a Windows 8 Tablet for Business
Pairing your Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard can boost your productivity potential. / Credit: Microsoft

Using a Windows tablet isn't like using a Windows PC. Even if your business tablet runs the full desktop version of Windows 8, its touch-based design and relatively small display mean you'll have to find new ways to stay productive. That could entail using touch-optimized Windows 8 apps over desktop programs, but it doesn't have to. By linking your tablet to the right accessories, it can become almost as functional as a laptop computer. Regardless of how you choose to use it, here are seven ways to put your Windows 8 tablet to work.

Accessorize

A Windows 8 tablet is much more portable than the average laptop. But it's hard to be truly productive without the right accessories. Try these to unlock your tablet's full potential.

  • Keyboard: Some Windows 8 tablets, such as the ASUS Transformer Book T100, come with a full keyboard dock. For other slates, there are a variety of Bluetooth keyboards available.
  • Stylus: A stylus can help you take notes and draw diagrams on your tablet's touch screen, especially if you pair the pen with an app such as OneNote.
  • Dock: A desktop dock lets you connect your slate to accessories such as a large monitor, mouse or keyboard. In other words, it lets you use your slate like a desktop computer.

Use mobile apps

A Windows 8 tablet gives you the choice to go to the desktop to use regular Windows programs, or opt for touch-optimized mobile apps. If you're tempted to always use the desktop, consider the benefits of mobile apps.

  • Apps: Windows 8 appssometimes have more-limited functionality than their desktop counterparts, but they have one big advantage: They were designed to be used on a touch screen, without the precision pointing afforded by a mouse.
  • Desktop: The Windows 8 desktop is as versatile as ever on a tablet, but it's better used at a desk with a mouse and keyboard attached.

Create and edit documents

One big advantage to choosing a Windows 8 tablet over an iPad or Android device is that the Windows slate supports the full desktop version of Microsoft Office, so you can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations from anywhere.

  • Word: Microsoft Word is the business standard for creating and editing documents. The full-featured program is available as a desktop Windows program, or as a mobile app with a touch-optimized interface.
  • Excel: Business users who work with spreadsheets will benefit from the full version of Microsoft Excel, which is also available as a desktop program and a mobile app.

Access your files and programs

Leaving the office doesn't mean you have to leave your files and programs behind. A good cloud storage app lets you store files in the cloud, while remote desktop software links your tablet to your work PC.

  • OneDrive: Microsoft's OneDrive is a cloud storage platform built right into the Windows 8 operating system. That means it requires no additional signup or downloads. When you add a file to your OneDrive folder, which is built right into the Windows Explorer sidebar, the file will be automatically synced to the cloud so it's backed and always available.
  • Splashtop Business: Using a remote desktop app like Splashtop Business means you don't have to completely sync your tablet and work computer. After the app is set up, it provides quick access to your work PC or Mac, including all documents and media, as well as all software installed on that machine.

Take notes

Why bother with pen-and-paper when your Windows 8 tablet is a great note-taking machine? Unlike paper notes, digital notes are searchable and backed up so you won't lose them.

  • OneNote: Microsoft'sOneNotehas one big advantage over competing note-taking apps: It's fully integrated with Windows 8. When you create a new note, it is automatically synced to the cloud via OneDrive, so you can access your notes from anywhere, on any Web-connected device.
  • Evernote: Evernoteis a powerful note-taking app with a deep feature set. The app lets you dictate or manually enter notes, and you can also snap photos and create to-do lists. If you use a stylus to take handwritten notes on your tablet, Evernote's text identification feature can index your words for easy searching later.

Manage your finances

If you use a desktop accounting program such as QuickBooks, your Windows 8 tablet can run that software without a hitch. But Windows 8 apps can help you balance your books, and even process new transactions, on a touch-screen tablet.

  • Cerebral Accounting: Cerebral Accountingis a full-featured finance management app for businesses. It lets you track payments, sales, receipts and more. And it features an inventory-management system, as well as a backup-and-restore system so you can rest easy knowing your finance data is secure.
  • Credit Card Terminal: Innerfence Credit Card Terminalprovides the best way to process payments using your Windows 8 tablet. Sign up for free to receive your first credit card reader, which plugs into the headphone jack of your tablet. To complete a transaction, just open the app and swipe a credit card through the reader.

Meet and network

A great business tablet makes it easy to meet with your current contacts and simplifies the process of making new ones. These apps make interacting with colleagues, employees and new business contacts easier.

  • GoToMeeting: GoToMeetingis a solid videoconferencing app for Windows 8 tablets. It lets you host virtual meetings with up to 25 attendees joining remotely, and boasts handy features like speaker identification so you always know who's talking. It also allows you to share your screen with others for collaborative meetings.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedInis the best way to network online and meet new business contacts, and the Windows 8 app makes this even easier. It lets you view alerts and interactions at a glance, and features a powerful search function to help you find exactly who you're looking for.