Updated 11/1/14: Unlike previous versions of Windows, there is no need to install a custom keyboard or custom fonts in Windows 8. It now ships with a Hawaiian keyboard baked into the system (see “New Windows 8 Operating System Supports The Hawaiian Language“). To activate it, go to the Control Panel, under “Clock, Language and Region” and click change “Input methods”. You should be able to enable the Hawaiian keyboard there. You may also find this YouTube video helpful. You’ll see “Hawaiian” in this video when the fellow in the tutorial adds a new language. I’d document this in more detail here myself, but lack access to a functional Windows 8 machine at the moment. Once you do this, you will see the Hawaiian keyboard as an option on the bottom right-hand panel of your Windows screen.
When using the Hawaiian keyboard, you should get used to using either the “right alt” key, or using the left alt key while also hold down the “control” key. They accomplish the same thing. For the rest of the instructions I will simply use “right alt” to describe how you type the ‘okina and kahakō, though either will work.
When the Hawaiian keyboard is activate and selected, the ‘okina is generated by simply typing the apostrophe key. To get the regular apostrophe, hold down the right alt key and type the apostrophe. To type the vowels with kahakō, hold down the right alt key, and type the vowel you wish to have the kahakō appear over. If you wish to generate an upper-case vowel with kahakō, hold down the right alt key and the shift key simultaneously, and type the vowel.
Please note that not all Win 8 fonts have the vowel-kahakō characters in them. The documents that are linked below show which fonts on Windows Vista and Win 7 had the vowels and kahakō, and I would be surprised if these fonts and others did not have them. But you may need to experiment with it. At the point I get access to a machine with Win 8 on it and have time to document this better, I will post again here.
There are two different technologies for typing Hawaiian on Windows – using “HI” fonts and using Unicode. The difference between these two systems is explained in the installation and user instructions that are linked on this document. I advise everyone to download and read the instructions documents found on the page first. You may find that you can not even install the old “HI” fonts on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Please do not ask for my assistance in doing so.
I strongly encourage everyone to stop using the “HI” keyboard and fonts, and use only the Unicode keyboard whenever possible. The keyboards found on Kualono were revised in the summer of 2007 so that they would work on Windows XP and Vista, and they also work on Windows 7.
What Fonts Have The ‘Okina and Kahakō?
I created the documents that are linked below and posted them on Scribd.com. While not all fonts on Windows have the kahakō and ‘okina characters, some fonts do. I’ve created lists of those fonts that I’ve found that do have the kahakō and ‘okina. They are available as .pdf documents below. This lists were generated from computers that I had available to me, and I offer no assurance that every Windows install will contain all of these fonts or that they will have the characters. Your mileage may vary.