I currently live in China so my only options to buy a Surface tablet is to buy it here or in Hong Kong.

Problem is that by default the entire UI is in Chinese. In the x86 version of Windows 8 you can install additional language packs to solve this, but I'm wondering if this is true for the tablet as well

Can't find any official information on it either, at least nothing that refers to the tablet directly. (and whether or not the Chinese version is restricted in some way)

Update: So I bought it and was able to add English language support without any issues. The only caveat is that the boot process still uses Chinese language, but once I sign in, everything is in English.

  • You can go to language settings and change it. Don't think it should be an issue. Unless the firewall has firewalled Windows Update For eg, I changed my language from English (US) to English (India) – pratnala Nov 4 '12 at 6:26
  • Or you can find out in the shop if an English version is available – pratnala Nov 4 '12 at 6:27
  • The guys in the shop haven't got a clue, wouldn't even let me try :p – TimothyP Nov 4 '12 at 6:51
  • If you have already have a Windows 8 PC at home, try installing a language pack in that and see if it works – pratnala Nov 4 '12 at 6:53
  • Doing that now :) – TimothyP Nov 4 '12 at 7:06

Without actually trying it myself, I cannot be sure. However, I am assuming that you are trying to get a tablet with Windows RT on it.

To learn how to get additional language packs, see Languages in Windows 8 and Windows RT, where it shows how to do it on the desktop, as well as in the Modern UI interface (quoted below):

Here's how to do it:

  1. Open the Search charm, enter language, choose Settings, and then tap or click Add a language.
    • In the Language Control Panel, tap or click Add a language.
  2. Browse or use the search box to find the languages you want to add, and then double-tap or double-click the language you want to add.

And here is what AndrewTechHelp in Configuring Windows 8 and Windows RT To Spell Correctly Outside The US says:

Microsoft has made language packs available to ALL editions of Windows 8 and also Windows RT

And even Office in Building Office for Windows RT says:

One area that was identified for space savings was language packs. Many OEMs load multiple languages onto the systems they ship... ...If a user decides later that they want one of the languages that were removed the system will automatically download the required files from Windows Update.

That suggests that you can get language packs even in Windows RT.

  • This is what I'm thinking as well, and I'm trying that on my desktop now, my biggest fear is that the Chinese version might be restricted because of the government – TimothyP Nov 4 '12 at 4:59
  • @TimothyP - How would they restrict it exactly? The Surface is being sold by Microsoft and they have a single product line Microsft Surface RT ( not including size and cover models ). – Ramhound Nov 7 '12 at 17:44
  • Well, when I bought the Asus Transformer in China it had a custom firmware which had removed the support for Google Accounts, had to root it and install a custom firmware to get it fixed, was scared Microsoft had given in as well. – TimothyP Nov 8 '12 at 1:39

I was in a Suning store today and was doing my best using a translator app on my phone and my broken Chinese knowledge. The pad in China is only in Chinese, the idea for that was to crack down on piracy. But as mentioned there is a language pack you can download for the pad and then a restart and it should be in English.

Now I did this in the store on their display pad. We spent ages trying to work it out, the assistant first told me to download from a website which made no sense, then we went into the app store and looked at translator apps.

I kinda walked out and was quite angry with how angry I was. But then I read on my phone how to do it, so I marched back in and gave it a try. The UI is completely in Chinese so it was a pain to figure out where to go for starters. I entered the desktop mode and then selected settings from the menu on the right side of the screen and it opened a window on the desktop.

In the search bar I typed 'add languages and it brought up link to click, did that and it was there after some hit and miss guess work I found the option to select the language of English, then it wanted to download a language pack. It was blocked by an admin password (it was a store display pad) and after that was done it started downloading it.

I selected English American. The pack was about 230MB and the download was going very slow, after 5 mins was still at 1MB. So I canceled it and was happy that I could do that. But the real challenge will be doing the system setup in Chinese. Maybe you can get some patient Chinese friend to help translate for you.

  • 2
    You could also post a walkthrough since you already half way did it. – Ramhound Nov 7 '12 at 17:45
  • What you describe here works perfectly. I just bought it and I know just enough Chinese to work through the menu's so I installed the language pack and it works like a charm. Every other day they block the Windows store but other than that it works fine :-) – TimothyP Nov 8 '12 at 1:41
  • Also, however downvoted this, there was no reason to do so! – TimothyP Nov 8 '12 at 1:54

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