Can You Play Games on a Windows Tablet?

Even though the tablet market is dominated by Apple and Android, there are still some neat Windows tablets that actually are just as great in terms of their specs and functionality. Of course, when you think of Windows, you don’t only think about the most popular operating systems in computers but also the different playable games that are compatible with this operating system. So, can you still play the same games on a Windows tablet?

As far as compatibility goes, you can still install and run Windows games on Windows tablets because they essentially run the same OS as Windows computers. However, not all tablets are actually powerful enough to run all types of Windows games. That means that your gaming library might be more limited.

Windows is still the best when it comes to game titles especially when you compare it to all of the other operating systems on the market. As such, it only means that you may be after some of the best games available on the market when you choose to buy a Windows tablet. And the good news is that you can play some of the usual Windows games on your Windows tablet as long as your tablet has the hardware to handle the demands of the games.

Minecraft on a tablet, shallow depth of field.

Can you install games on a Windows tablet?

When it comes to different types of tablets in the world, most of the tablets we know of run on either iOS or Android operating systems. But, then again, we can’t forget about the Windows operating system, which is the most widely used operating system in the entire world by a mile as it accounts for nearly 70% of the overall market share in operating systems.

As popular as Windows is as an operating system, you might be wondering if there are actually tablets that run on this OS. So, in that regard, you should know that Windows tablets actually exist but are not exactly the most popular as they only account for about .05% of the entire market share in terms of operating systems used for tablets. Still, they do exist and are used by a select niche group of people that prefer to streamline all of their gadgets on the Windows operating system.

So, that said, one of the reasons why people love Windows as an operating system is that it is the best in terms of its overall compatibility with games since most of the developers develop their games to be optimized for Windows instead of other operating systems. As such, there are some people who choose Windows tablets believing that they will have the same experience as a Windows computer in terms of the games that they can play on the tablet.

All that said, can you actually install games on your Windows tablet?

To answer that question, yes, you can actually install games on your Windows tablet. The one thing you need to know when it comes to Windows tablets is that they run almost the exact same operating system that is used for Windows computers. Probably the only difference is that the Windows OS that tablets use has been optimized for the use of tablets such that they are compatible with the touchscreen interface that Windows tablets come with. Aside from that, there are no differences in terms of the operating systems in most Windows devices.

So, because the OS you are using on your Windows tablet is basically the same as the one you can find on computers, that means that you can actually install on your tablet the same Windows apps and games that you can install on your computer. The apps and games won’t discriminate because they can’t tell whether you are using a Windows tablet or a Windows computer.

surface pro screen and keyboard

As to the games, there are also dedicated games that you can find in the Windows Store on your Windows tablet so that you can download and install games there. And the best part about such games is that they were made and developed for Windows tablets and not merely for the Windows operating system.

But, if you do want to install the same Windows games that are playable on Windows computers, you can still download them from a different source and then install them on your tablet in a manner that is similar to how you would install a Windows app or game with the .exe extension. However, there is a catch here.

Most Windows tablets are shipped out to be in S Mode by default. What this means is that your tablet can only install apps and games that are available in the Windows Store. But you shouldn’t worry because you can exit your tablet from S Mode so that you can download your games from external sources.

Still, downloading from external sources will put your tablet at risk of getting infected by viruses, which are quite common in the Windows operating system. This is why S Mode should be there to safeguard your tablet from possible attacks from viruses. But as long as you trust the source where you downloaded your games from and that you have good antivirus protection on your tablet, you shouldn’t be too worried about viruses when installing games downloaded from an external source.

Can you run Windows games on a Windows tablet?

So, while we did say that you can actually install Windows games on a Windows tablet so long as such games are compatible with the Windows operating system, it might be a different story when it comes to running such games because installing and running are two different things that don’t always see together eye to eye.

When you are installing an app or game on your Windows tablet or even on your computer, for that matter, it is simply a question of whether such an app or game can be installed on the OS you are running. The game won’t look at your hardware and say that you can’t install it because you don’t have the hardware that can run the game.

On the other hand, running the game is an entirely different thing because this involves the hardware that you have on your tablet or even on your computer. You may have experienced a game crashing or not running smoothly when you tried running it on a low-end Windows laptop. Even if you could install it on that laptop, there was no guarantee that you could actually run it on the same machine given the limitations that the laptop has.

The same concept applies to your Windows tablet because it still is a matter of your hardware. This is something that you could have also experienced if you owned an older Apple or Android tablet with specs that can’t handle newer games. While you were able to install them on those tablets, they didn’t have the specs that allowed the tablet to run them well enough. So, in this sense, this can also happen on your Windows tablet if you attempted to run high-end games on a tablet that doesn’t have the minimum specs required to run the game.

Tablet with game on screen

In that sense, it becomes a hardware question more than a software or operating system question here. While the operating system requirement is the first wall you need to crack to play Windows games on the tablet, you should still crack the hardware wall because you won’t’ be able to play the game if your tablet can’t handle the heat.

But, then again, the surprising part here is that most tablets can actually run modern games due to how they have integrated graphics that are actually surprisingly good but may not be superb. You may be able to play the games but don’t expect them to have eye-popping graphics and great framerates. Just make sure that you actually temper your expectations and put them at the bare minimum when you want to run Windows games on a Windows tablet especially when you installed modern games that tend to have high demands in terms of the processing and graphical capabilities of the machine they are running on.

How is the experience playing Windows games on a Windows tablet?

So, even if you can both install and run Windows games on your Windows tablet, playing them is also an entirely different story as well because you have to remember here that you are playing the games on a tablet and not a traditional computer. That means that the experience will be drastically different in comparison to when you run those games on an actual computer instead of on a tablet.

The first thing you need to know is that, aside from the games that were actually developed for Windows tablets (and trust us when we say that there aren’t a lot of them), you won’t be able to use your touchscreen for Windows games that you installed on your Windows tablet. There are some games that allow you to use the tablet’s touchscreen feature but they usually allow you to do so in the most basic sense and are not optimized well enough.

In other words, you can only play these games by making use of the usual keyboard and mouse combo that you often use when you play Windows games on an actual Windows computer. Other than that, you shouldn’t expect yourself to be able to play games such as Halo or Skyrim when you do indeed try to run them on your tablet and try to play them using the touchscreen. That’s because, again, these games were not optimized for tablets and were only optimized for the operating system that your tablet happens to run on.

surface pro back

So, again, this is another thing you need to keep in mind because installing and running are also different from playing. Installing games is a matter of the operating system while running is a matter of the hardware capabilities of your tablet. On the other hand, playing the games is a matter of whether the games were optimized for your tablet in the sense that you could actually play them using the tablet’s touchscreen.

But, then again, if you are only a casual gamer, there are some Windows tablets games that you can download from the Windows Store. These games were optimized to be able to play well on your tablet’s touchscreen. Still, the sad part is that there aren’t plenty of them and they are usually ported from other tablet operating systems such as iOS and Android.

As such, when you play games on your Windows tablet bare and without any accessories, you probably won’t be able to play the Windows games you want to play. This makes the tablet not so different from Apple and Android tablets as far as their gaming capabilities are concerned.

What do you need to have a good gaming experience on a Windows tablet?

While we did say that most Windows games were not made to be optimized for Windows tablets, that doesn’t mean that you can’t actually play them the way they should be played. You can still get a good gaming experience from your Windows tablet if you use it in a manner that is similar to a laptop.

Yes, we are talking about using a keyboard and a mouse on your Windows tablet so that you can play the Windows games that were optimized and designed to be played with the use of a keyboard and a mouse. This might defeat the purpose of the Windows tablet being as convenient and as light as it is but this is the downside of wanting to play games on a Windows tablet.

Still, there are some keyboards and mice that are actually designed for tablets. For one, Windows tablets such as the Surface have their own keyboard attachments that are quite slim and light. That means that you wouldn’t have any trouble bringing with you such a small and light keyboard that was optimized for the use of your Windows tablet. Meanwhile, there are plenty of different Bluetooth mice that are very small and light.

All that said, you should be able to enjoy gaming on your Windows tablet as long as you actually use a keyboard and a mouse. And the best part is that keyboards and mice that are made for tablets are just as light and as convenient to carry around as the tablet itself. That means that you don’t have to worry a lot about the extra weight you will be carrying when you want to play games on your Windows tablets while you are on the go.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to use a keyboard or a mouse, then you won’t have a very good experience gaming on your Windows tablet. That is, of course, if you could actually play the games without your keyboard and mouse.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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