The Windows Store has free apps too

The Windows Store has free apps too

Summary: If you're worried that you're stuck with Microsoft-only or commercial-only apps, worry no more. There are a lot of free apps in the Windows Store.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Apps, Windows

I love free software. That's why Linux appeals to me; it's free. I like freedom too. I like the freedom to choose the software that I want without being locked-in or at least without feeling locked-in to a particular vendor's software offerings. You can sort software by subcategories specific to the type of software you're browsing, by price (Free, Free and Trial, Paid) and by a miscellaneous set of factors (Noteworthy, newest, highest rating, lowest price and highest price). Some major categories, Productivity, for example, only has listings by price and by those miscellaneous categories. In all, not a bad showing for a first crack at an online app store for Microsoft.

I should warn you though that there is one small caveat to the awesomeness of the Windows Store. Sprinkled randomly throughout the store, even if you sort by Free, there are a few commercial apps.

For example, if you find the Productivity category and sort by Free, you'll see TeamViewer, Microsoft Office 2010, Construct 2 and more that direct you to the publisher's website for purchase and download.

It doesn't bother me terribly that they do this but I do feel slightly duped by it. And, even though I know better, I still clicked on Microsoft Office 2010 and Construct 2, just to see if maybe, but no, they're definitely not free.

It also seems that a lot of the free ones that you see first are Microsoft brand. But, hey, it's their store, I suppose they should have the option of pushing the store brands first. Grocery stores do it, why not online software stores too?

Once you wade through those minor points, you'll find hundreds of free apps that are not only Windows apps but they're actually Metro-fied apps, which means they'll work nicely on the Start screen and you won't have to switch to the regular desktop to see them or hunt for them elsewhere.

The major Windows Store categories are: Games, Entertainment, Productivity, Tools, Security, Business, Education, Government, Finance, Travel, Shopping, Lifestyle, Food & Dining, Health & Fitness, News & Weather, Books & Reference, Sports, Music & Video, Photo, Social and Spotlight.

You can also, with a single click, get a list of the Top Free apps in each category and a list of New Releases.

Yes, of course Angry Birds is listed but it's not free. It'll set you back a full $4.99. I have it on my iPad, so I don't need it on my PC. Personally, I think that they should offer a multi-device discount for apps. But, that's a topic of another post, I suppose.

I'm going to make a prediction that, in two years or less, all software will be purchased or acquired for free through app stores. Sure, if you know the developer's website, you'll still be able to get it that way but the app stores of the world will be the primary outlet for all software great and small.

Of course, I had to download and test one of the free games, Jetpack Joyride by Halfbrick Studios, and it's even more addictive than Angry Birds so don't try it. It was almost an hour between the last paragraph and this one.

In all, I think the Windows Store has a lot to offer those of us who like free software. I think it's good that Microsoft makes these free apps available in their store. And, Microsoft has done a decent job in putting it all together. Hopefully it's easier for developers to put their apps into the Windows Store--not that I'm making any comparisons between the Windows Store and any other app store <insert winky face here>.

What do you think of the Windows Store? Do you think it lives up to its intended purpose or do you think it's just another money racket for Microsoft? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Microsoft, Apps, Windows


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Free is good!

    I've already tried and removed a few. Would highly recommend Toolbox, as it allows up to 6 apps at once, great option for bigger monitors.
    • Toolbox

      It is cool. I installed it a couple of days ago. I should have mentioned it. Thanks.
  • better late than never

    Having all apps in one place is a great idea, I am glad that finally has arrived to Windows world. My kids love Windows Store and also works great for me. Only one small think I want to Microsoft add is a "don't show desktop app" or something like that filter, or sub-category for "classic" software.
  • In-App Purchases.

    If you have kids watch out for those. I pay for something I prefer to pay once and ONLY once. Games are the worst offenders.
    Arm A. Geddon
    • yes, this one I agree with you completely.

      There are few apps in every Appstore, Market or marketplace different systems, and those they take money for their apps and throw ads again, and other apps like you said have in-app purchases. They charge ridiculously like 100 virtual coins for $100 (real money), Tap Tap Zoo comes to mind, and you have to be really careful. Those purchases, once you do, are not reversible. and like you said if you have kids you have to be extra careful. The Kids Corner in Windows Phone 8 takes care of that and I wish iOS also does the same. I got bitten by Tap Tap Zoo and Dragon something and my $100 never got back. And those games are not that worthy at all.
      Ram U
  • Did you know...

    the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store also have free apps? :-P
  • Are links to websites counted as "apps" in the app counts we see?

    Just curious. If so, is it a few, or is it prevalent?
    • I would think so

      Dont see why not. At the end of the day (or link) it's still an App.
  • How can I tell what's *really* new?????

    The App Store is fine except for one thing - there is no way to tell what is really new.

    My "New" listings are virtually identical to my "Free" listings. Does anyone publish a list of new apps?? Maybe there should be some kind of indicator (maybe an asterisk or something?) or just an "Added today" listing somewhere...

    There you go - someone come up with an app that lists new apps!
  • Windows Store

    That's primarily been my experience too. I'd like to see "trial" category; I wouldn't have download huge game files only to find out it was a trial version (the games just stopped altogether) and that happened three times... shame on me.
    Crashin Chris