11 top Windows 8 apps for work and play

11 top Windows 8 apps for work and play

Summary: Windows 8.1 has rolled out, and the operating system is better than ever. Apps make any platform shine and while there aren't as many Windows 8 apps as there are on other platforms there are some pretty good ones.


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  • 11 top apps for Windows 8.x

    This collection of 11 Windows 8 apps covers the spectrum, from leisure to productivity apps. There are apps to keep you informed and others to keep you up-to-date with your friends on social networks.

    All of these apps have been tested on touch tablets to ensure each can be used handily by touch as well as on laptops and desktops.

    There is a bonus slide that shows the author's favorite way to use snap view as that has been greatly improved in Windows 8.1.

    These are not the only good apps on Windows 8 but are the top apps the author uses heavily. If your favorite app(s) is (are not) listed please share them in the comments below.

    Note that all apps can be found in the Windows 8 app store, simply search for the app name in the Store app.


  • Widgets HD

    Move over Android, Windows 8 now has widgets, sort of, thanks to the HD Widgets app. This app has a full screen with a selectable wallpaper and an assortment of common widgets to put on it.

    The widgets include a clock app that looks a lot like that on Android widgets, a weather app, news reader, and a calculator, among others.

    The developer has committed to keep adding more widgets and wallpaper for those who purchase the Pro edition.

    Note that this app doesn't handle screen rotation well. It works better to set it up in the orientation you use mose frequently and not use it in the others.

    Free ($2.49 to go Pro) in the Microsoft Store

  • Metro Toolbox

    This app defies description as it is a utility that allows building a screen with panels that can include a number of usefult functions. There is a good scientific calculator, a calendar that allows date calculations, and a programmer's calculator to name a few.

    The panels can be arranged in any order and a panel's function can be changed with a simple tap on the screen.

    Free in the Microsoft Store

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • Snap view with multi monitor

    Snap view is even more impressive than you mention in the article (as I'm sure you know). With a large/high enough resolution display, you can snap multiple apps side by side.

    I have a Razer Edge Pro, and when docked with a 21 inch monitor, you can have (on the Edge) 2 windows snapped, then 3 snapped side by side on the other screen. This lets me have twitter, Facebook, my email, IE11 and a desktop snap all at once, which is pretty snazzy if you ask me.

    IMVHO, Windows 8.1 is a huge step forward for the OS.
    • Change the article to "Windows 8 phone has Snap View", yeah that's it.

      1. "Move over Android, Windows 8 now has widgets, sort of", move over usually means they're better. Who says move over Windows is kind of almost as functional? WTF?

      2. "Metro Toolbox" - It has a calculator, another calculator, a calendar that does date calculations, and a stop watch? So it's only a toolbox in so much as it has multiple versions of the same tool?

      3. "PDF Touch" - It's a PDF Editor, on a touch device, pretty mush requires touch support.

      4. "MyRadar Weather Radar", "Feed Reader", and "TuneIn Radio", "ESPN, Kindle, Mail with Gmail support" - Smart Phone stock apps.
      • RE: Change the article to "Windows 8 phone has Snap View", yeah that's it.

        Your attempt at sarcasm fails and pretty much shows how much you've really used Windows 8 even before the 8.1 update. We get it, you like to say "M$" and talk about how Microsoft is killing the environment and making poor families homeless.

        I don't think that Windows 8 is perfect but at least MS is listening and addressing complaints. Win 8 wasn't necessarily broken, but 8.1 improved the usability experience. And your comment about the stock apps, it just shows that the majority of "essential" apps have already reached the platform. Despite the constant attempt to bash the platform, it's maturing fairly well.
        Those who hunt Trolls
    • 2 apps or 4 apps?

      I am guessing that the ability to run 4 apps as opposed to the advertised 2 side by side is really one app with four others incorporated but both seem very limiting for desktop. I usually had 5-6 programs running, sized and arranged on my desktop with 2-3 others shrunk. I realize for the handheld appliances 2 at once is for those with better eyes then mine given the size of the screens but only two running seems very limiting.
      Currently 8.1 still has a problem when you open over 10 websites at once. The information isn't there when you finally click them. Try it and you will see what I mean. I usually open sites off all my emails and from links in the sites before reading any of them so use to have 20-30 open at times with XP or 7 with no problem.
      • In desktop mode you can run many apps

        in the snapview, just open desktop app and you can run many classic applications side by side.

        He is talking about Modern Apps.
        Ram U
  • Nextgen Reader

    NewsBlur costs money if you don't want to be a second-class citizen. I prefer Nextgen Reader operating on the Feedly back-end for my RSS.

    The ESPN app is okay, but I actually like the way the Windows Phone app works better than the Windows 8 app. I find that I prefer to just surf espn.com on the tablet than use the app.

    Thanks for the tip on using Kindle to read PDFs.
  • Thanks!

    Picked up a Surface Pro a few weeks ago on sale and have been loving the pen input. Just picked up PDF Touch and MyRadar (use that on my Windows Phone as well).
    Stuart Becktell
  • Windows 8.1 is a slug

    Upgraded my work box over the weekend, and for the first hour this morning, the HDD has been maxed out. IE 11 is junk, Microsoft broke Exchange OWA rendering.

    It is hard to believe that Microsoft could do worse than Windows 8, and they managed to do it with Windows 8.1. Seriously contemplating going back to Windows 7.
    • Windows 8.1 "Same sh?t different day"

      I have upgraded several devices to 8.1 and the same basic imcompatabilities and half finished utilities remain. Things you can do in five minutes in W7 can take hours in 8.1, assuming they work at all.
      I need to buy a new laptop for my work and am going to pay extra to get a copy of W7 because I just do not have the time or the enthusiasm to screw around just to get me my job done, and that is even after installing Start8 and ModernMIx, and booting straight to desktop.
  • Amazon Kindle app not full-featured

    You may not have noticed but the Kindle app does not support some of the newer comics like MAD mag. It is supported on other platforms but not Windows 8 for some reason
    • No email books

      you also can't email mobi or other Amazon compatible ebooks to the device. I recently sponsored an author to write a book and I got an Amazon format ebook, audio book and signed first edition as a result. The Amazon format book is on my Kindle and my Android phone, but I can't send it to my Windows 8 tablet and I can't load it locally.

      If I try and double click on the file it opens the Windows App Store and lists Apps compatible with Amazon ebooks, the official Kindle reader from Amazon isn't one of them!
  • Metro toolbox

    Wow. Four smarphone apps side by side in a full screen window. Wow. How long did it take them to think that one up?
  • HD Widgets

    I searched "HD Widgets" on the Microsoft Store. 6 results were found; none is "HD Widgets".

    I googled "HD Widgets microsoft store" and found a page that looks like the screen shot in your article; but it's called "Widgets HD", not "HD Widgets". However, there is no link on that page to download or purchase the software. There is a link titled "View in Windows Store", however that just leads to a generic page, not to the specific page for the software.

    Is the software called Widgets HD or HD Widgets? How can it be downloaded?
    • OOPS

      It's called Widgets HD and has been corrected. Here's the link in the app store:

  • Good list, but not the "Top"

    This is a good list of "other productivity apps," but I wouldn't call most of them "top" apps. There are a lot of others not on this list that I think are more popular and aids productivity than these. That said, I appreciate that you created a list of apps I hadn't heard of before, rather than the usual suspects.

    Oh, and I second NextGen reader. Great Feedly integration and a very clean experience.
    • Other apps

      I agree. My personal favorite is Scrble to take free-hand notes. It is super-simple ... almost like using pen and paper. But you do need a touch enable device.
      Claudia Wey
  • Win 8..

    Please go back to journalism school and take that pack of clowns that call themselves editors with you. As you have been told thousands of times, Slide Show articles without a Read / View All option are totally unacceptable and repulsive to your client base.
    Leo Regulus
  • Waste of Time

    Kind of a useless article. Basic apps used across multiple smart devices and tablets. Snap View is not an app and who wants to clutter up their desktop with the widget apps that look like an airplane cockpit. How about aps like Xbox 360 SmartGlass, Evernote Touch and Autodesk Sketchbook Express?
  • Wow!! Snap view is incredible...

    Discovering Snap View is reminiscent of the excitement of seeing the Multiple Document Interface in Windows 2.0. And multiple monitor support in Windows 3.

    I am so excited that Windows 8.1 has now caught up to implementing Windows features that were introduced right after Windows 1.03 - the version I started using daily. Now, if they could just make 8.1 as user friendly as Windows for Workgroups or XP.

    I have used every version of Windows (except Bob). Versions 386, 3.11, 95, XP, and 7 were all impressive improvements over their predecessors. NT 3.5 was a bit rough and Vista was bad, but Windows 8 has got to be the biggest step backwards on a desktop. So bad in fact that the ability to see more than one app at a time is great news!
  • where is...

    ... an Angry Ballmers game?