I hear that Windows 8 Pro can use full disk encryption. I also understand that Win8 is targeting the "slate" / "tablet" form factor specifically. But all my previous experience with BitLocker requires you to put in some kind of PIN or password at boot time -- how can I do this without a (hardware) keyboard?

This preview of an upcoming Win8 tablet mentions BitLocker but doesn't address the PIN issue. Am I missing something?

  • There are two versions of Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 RT. Pro is targeted at desktops/laptops, and RT is targeted at slates/tablets. – Darth Android Oct 3 '12 at 15:40
  • Per the question I linked to, RT doesn't support domain joining or group policy -- does that mean that I can't have Win8 tablets on a corporate network? That seems, uh, really broken. – Coderer Oct 9 '12 at 8:50
  • If they don't support that, then no. You can look into Windows 8 pro tablets though. I think Intel is about to release one. – Darth Android Oct 9 '12 at 14:18
  • @Coderer you can have Windows 8 tablets on your corporate network if they're running the full Windows 8. Some tablets only run Windows RT, which is more stripped down, but many tablets will support full-blown Windows. – nhinkle Oct 20 '12 at 17:27

Windows RT includes its own (non-BitLocker) device encryption, similar to Windows Mobile before it. Without a device at hand, unfortunately I don't have the exact sequence of steps needed to enable it.

Using BitLocker with Windows 8 on a tablet currently requires the use of TPM, a startup key, or an external USB keyboard.

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  • So in summary, no, I'm not missing anything, this is a known issue, and there is no current solution -- to boot a BL-encrypted slate from full power-down, you need to carry something else (a "key", or a keyboard) with you. Oh well, doesn't hurt to ask. – Coderer Oct 22 '12 at 12:43
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    You've got it exactly. If you carry a USB key to start the tablet, don't carry it with the tablet. – Michael Hampton Oct 22 '12 at 13:23

Hello from the future!

It looks like this issue took a while to gain traction, but has been addressed, to some extent, quite recently. This article provides two key facts:

  • If you have a TPM, boot-time authentication (PIN) is not very important on most tablets (although, read article for caveats)
  • If you use a boot-time PIN, some devices are now providing boot-time on-screen keyboard (like the Surface Pro 3)

I have read a few forum posts where some other tablets are getting BIOS patches that will enable a boot-time OSK. I think that's the best solution going forward.

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Yes you can, but you'll either need to upgrade your Windows 8 to pro or encrypt the drivers on a Win 8 pro pc. After that it should read them fine. This is for 8 and 8 pro, no idea about RT

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  • OK so, supposing I have a Windows 8 tablet without hardware keyboard, and I upgrade to Pro. Can I unlock it without carrying any extra devices or do I need to tote something (keyboard, hardware key, etc) with me, as the other answer states? – Coderer Oct 29 '14 at 15:10

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