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Thread: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

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    Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Hello everybody,

    I have seen that the new Windows Surface RT tablets are now available in the Italian shops and I would like to ask you a question about the way they work.

    A few months ago, I bought a new portable PC running under Windows 8 64 bit and I have to admit I am only using the classic desktop ignoring the Metro interface. I have installed a freeware application that makes the task bar with the start menu appear and for me the Metro interface is just a disturbing element I get rid of as soon as I switch on my PC.

    Anyway, now I was thinking of buying a tablet on whose hard disk I should be able to quickly copy files like PDF documents, MP3s etcetera. This is because I must be able to open these files also when I am not connected. I already have an iPad but I am not satisfied with it because, in order to copy files onto its hard disk, I have to connect the tablet to my PC on which I have installed iTunes (the software that allows you to manage files on the iPad hard disk). Needless to say, this procedure is extremely time-consuming.

    My question is, does Windows Surface RT allow you to copy and paste files using a USB stick? Watching some videoclips showing Windows Surface RT, I could see it is equipped with an environment that looks very similar to the classic Windows desktop. Does it allow you to browse your hard disk and external drives and manage files?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Last edited by esposito; Feb 23rd, 2013 at 04:11 AM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    In case what I said is unclear, when I mentioned "an environment that looks very similar to the classic Windows desktop" I was referring to what you can see in the attached screenshot.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    As far as I can tell WinRT-ARM platforms still use Explorer on the desktop and I can't imagine that they don't support at least one USB OTG port as well.

    Here is some detail suggesting that they do, at least the Surface RT:

    The Windows RT and Surface USB Device Compatibility Story


    Of course you could also just save thousands of USD-equivalent in your local currency (ok, save half or far more of the cost) and buy an Android tablet. These range from so-so at about $80US to quite decent at $300US to excellent for around $375US.

    And that doesn't even mention the other advantage: a huge volume of applications that actually do something, compared to the paltry Win8RT market.

    All of my own Android devices support USB OTG and can handle USB flash drive devices with no trouble.

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    As far as I can tell WinRT-ARM platforms still use Explorer on the desktop and I can't imagine that they don't support at least one USB OTG port as well.

    Here is some detail suggesting that they do, at least the Surface RT:

    The Windows RT and Surface USB Device Compatibility Story


    Of course you could also just save thousands of USD-equivalent in your local currency (ok, save half or far more of the cost) and buy an Android tablet. These range from so-so at about $80US to quite decent at $300US to excellent for around $375US.

    And that doesn't even mention the other advantage: a huge volume of applications that actually do something, compared to the paltry Win8RT market.

    All of my own Android devices support USB OTG and can handle USB flash drive devices with no trouble.
    Thanks for your reply.

    What I need is just a device (possibly, a tablet) that allows me to quickly copy and paste MP3 and PDF files from my USB drive to the hard disk. Obviously, this device should allow me to execute those files and show me the list of all the PDF documents and MP3 recordings I have put on the hard disk.

    Right now, I am using my iPad but, as I said, copying files to that type of tablet is extremely time-consuming if you are not connected. I'm using it at school (I'm an English teacher). Basically, I connect my iPad to a speakmaster (a stereo set) and play the MP3 files which the listening comprehension exercises are based on. While listening to the audio recordings, my students have to complete some paper worksheets.

    I have also put a PDF copy of our textbook onto the iPad hard disk, so I can avoid using the paper version.

    Do you think that an Android tablet would be a better choice for me, considering what my needs are?
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    I suspect an Android or a WinRT device would do about the same thing for you. The main way they differ from iStuff is more open support for common USB devices. But they don't have an iStuff docking port as used by many speaker docks so you'd use an analog audio cable, HDMI cable, Bluetooth, etc. to connect external speakers.

    Android devices often come with PDF reader and music player applications, or you can find many free ones. They often have Explorer-like applications as well, or again you can download numerous free or fancy for-pay ones.

    Tablets normally don't have "hard drives" but some combination of SSD, internal flash, and TF/SD-card slots as primary and secondary storage.

    Bigger tablets sometimes have full sized USB ports while many come with a mini- or micro-USB to full size adapter.

    Or you might look for a more general-purpose device like an x86 netbook, though that seems to be a dying market segment so choices may be more limited. There are also x86 tablets that run full Windows 7 or Windows 8 too.

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    File managers ("explorers") for Android are often optimized for phones. You'd want one better oriented to tablet devices. Some even open two panes making it easier to view the source and destination for copy/move operations.

    Here's a demo of a single-pane type that is tablet optimized:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZrfPlgY8XY

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Thanks. I'll buy an Android tablet tomorrow. I saw a 10-inch one which is equipped with a USB port and a mini HDMI. The OS is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwhich and it only costs 140 euros.

    Thanks again for your help.
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    You can also ask at the store before buying just to make sure, though the retail sales staff I've found are almost clueless so you might need to ask to test on a demo unit if they allow it.

    I paid about €61 ($80USD) for a low-end 7" tablet that I find handy. I can see where a 10" model might be better for you though.

    You might also think about printing, though that usually isn't a prioriity until you need it. This requires a printing app on Android, or probably a printer driver on a Surface RT (if such a thing exists there, WinRT is a somewhat driver-hostile zone).

    I have a wired Ethernet HP PhotoSmart printer at home and my WiFi tablet found it instantly once I installed HP's ePrint app from Google's Play Store. There are also other printer manufacturers' specialized apps as well as more generic printing apps.


    One thing Apple got right was avoiding "widescreen" aspect ratios on iPads. While widescreen might seem snazzy for videos it makes the tablet less viable in potrait mode as an e-reader device. If possible looks for an Android device closer to 4:3 than 16:9 or worse. They exist but they are rarer than the widescreen form factor.

    The 4:3 ones do a lot better at viewing PDFs and such.

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    I bought the 10-inch Android tablet I told you about for 140 euros and I am fully satisfied with it.

    It supports most video and audio formats and, thanks to some free apps, I can even create Word, Excel and Power Point documents.

    The File Manager application allows me to browse both the hard disk and any USB drives. I can easily create new folders, delete files etc.

    The HDMI port allows me to connect the tablet to my TV. The battery life is more or less the same as that of an iPad.

    Shortly speaking, I think I have made the right choice, as my tablet does exactly what I expected it to do.

    I wonder why people keep spending so much money on iPads considering all the limitations they have. I guess it's just because Apple are very good at adopting the right marketing strategies.
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Some of it may be herd mentality or fashion.

    Battery life is one thing the really low-end tablets are poor at, so I'm glad you found a satisfactory device.

    Like anything, a tablet OS and UI has a learning curve. This is one thing I think they could all do a better job at, possibly by providing some good quality videos showing common operations, option configuration, and how to find and install new applications from the "stores."

    Android has two good stores (Google's and Amazon's) as well as quite a few middling quality alternative stores and the ability to obtain software without going through any special storefront site. This offers a lot of versatility and makes it quite easy to develop specialized software and distribute it in-house, via a hobby Web site download, etc. A much less closed ecosystem than offered by iDevices and WinRT.

    Of course it is only fair to say that malware is a bigger issue too, which is why you find a growing anti-malware software market as well.

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    Android has two good stores (Google's and Amazon's) as well as quite a few middling quality alternative stores and the ability to obtain software without going through any special storefront site. This offers a lot of versatility and makes it quite easy to develop specialized software and distribute it in-house, via a hobby Web site download, etc. A much less closed ecosystem than offered by iDevices and WinRT.
    What do you mean when you talk about distributing software in-house? Does that mean that, unlike software for iOS or WinRT, the Android apps you develop may work without having to be uploaded, approved and then downloaded from the Google Play Store?
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Yep.

    You can just email the APK, put it on some file share, a Web site, etc. Just like a setup package for Classic Windows.


    Distributing APK's for testing talks about testing before submitting to the Play Store, Amazon Android Store, etc. But it applies to in-house apps as well:

    Here's a tip for anyone involved in writing and distributing Android apps to others for testing. The usual way has been via a web server with the APK's available in a download area - then all you need to do is tell your testers to point their onboard browser to the URL. Note, if you do this it's essential you set the MIME type for .apk's (application/vnd.android.package-archive) or the browser won't launch the app installer on download. However, theres now a smarter way which has the benefit of not needing a server - use DropBox. Install it on your PC, place the .APK in a folder, get your testers to install the Android DropBox app and share that folder. They'll get a notice when you add the apps and they'll be able to just click it to install. Very cool...

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    Yep.

    You can just email the APK, put it on some file share, a Web site, etc. Just like a setup package for Classic Windows.


    Distributing APK's for testing talks about testing before submitting to the Play Store, Amazon Android Store, etc. But it applies to in-house apps as well:
    And what about code signatures? Under iOS, the app cannot be installed if it is unsigned. Does that mean you could sell your own Android apps putting the APKs on your Web site?
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    You could do that, but it limits your market reach pretty radically. Remember, these are primarily consumer devices so unless you are meeting a specialized need users won't stray far from the major storefront sites and most users can't even install non-market signed APKs.

    In practical terms the only unsigned APKs people install are for development testing, since this requires the Android image to support developer extensions and have them enabled.

    See unsigned APK can not be installed
    I did not know that even with the "Allow Installation of non-Marked application", I still needed to sign the application.

    I self-signed my application, following this link self-sign and release application, It only took 5 minutes, then I emailed the signed-APK file to myself and downloaded it to SD-card and then installed it without any problem.
    So you'd normally want to sign your package, preferably with a "real" certificate, unless you are sharing among hobbyists.

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    I have developed a simple "Hello World" application using Eclipse, copied the APK file onto a USB drive, connected it to my Android tablet and the installation proceeded without any problems. I didn't get any warning message about any lack of code signature. How was it possible? The only thing I noticed is that the option which allows the user to install apps from unknown sources is active in the Settings environment.
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    In many cases that's all you need.

    So far I've only found issues on phones and not tablets. But a tablet with 3G/4G, etc. (cellphone company Internet) might be locked down too.

    I have a NAS server on my network that I use for backups, media streaming, and general file sharing and using a "file manager" that supports SMB shares I can copy APK's and install them too. You can also just share a folder on your Windows PC. This is handy if your network and tablet have WiFi - no need to fiddle with USB cables.

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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Are you using Eclipse to develop your Android apps? To be honest, I don't feel comfortable with it and I have done some research into alternative programming tools. I have been attracted by Basic4Android. Do you know if it may be a good choice?
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    Re: Can you copy or erase files on Windows RT?

    Eclipse does have its isues. There is also another one: IntelliJ IDEA. I've played a little with Basic4Android but haven't decided to buy in yet.

    I need to get back to this but work has taken me away from Android for the last month or so.

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