Q: Can Microsoft Surface Pro do X? That is, can Windows 8 Pro running on an Intel Core i5 do x?

A: I'm receiving a lot of questions related to the Microsoft Surface Pro device and if it can do x, y, or z. It's important to take a step back and understand what the Surface Pro actually is. Unlike Surface RT, which is an ARM-based system running Windows RT, with fewer of the capabilities of the full Windows 8 OS, Surface Pro is running Windows 8 Pro on an x64 processor.

Basically, it's a regular Windows 8 machine with all the standard capabilities of Windows 8 Pro running on an Intel Core i5-based system. It's just wrapped up in a very nice form factor!

This means when you are wondering whether Surface Pro can do x, y, or z, change the question to "Can Windows 8 Pro running on an Intel Core i5 do x, y or z?"

If the answer is yes, then generally you'll be in good shape (unless the question is specific to some kind of port or slot, in which case that would be based on the Surface Pro specifications. You can find the Surface Pro specs at the Microsoft site.

Some good examples of Surface Pro questions I've received include these:

  • Can I enable the Hyper-V feature on Surface Pro? - Yes, because the Surface Pro is running on an Intel Core i5 which supports hardware assisted virtualization and SLAT (Extended Page Tables).
  • Can I join my Surface Pro to the domain and use Group Policy? - Yes, because its running Windows 8 Pro
  • Can I use Windows To Go on my Surface Pro? - Yes, because it supports booting from USB (power it on while holding down the volume button to boot from USB)
  • Can I run normal desktop applications on my Surface Pro? - Yes, because its running Windows 8 Pro (and not Windows RT).

Hopefully that helps.