The launch of the most innovative version of Windows is inching nearer, and as information trickles out speculation is ramping up. The Metro interface is polarizing those who try it, and how well it will be received at launch will rely in large part on what apps are available on day one. Metro apps are brand new to the platform, and having a good selection at launch is crucial.
Even more important than having a decent selection in the app store at launch is having the right mix of apps installed as part of the platform distribution. The following apps will go a long way to creating the best out of box experience.
Email, contacts, calendar. Tablets are different from laptops in that new owners need to be able to handle these functions at first boot. The lack of these apps is believed to have killed RIM's PlayBook at launch, and Microsoft needs to avoid that. The mobile crowd expects to handle Exchange and Gmail without compromise, and browser-based solutions won't work.
Office. Microsoft has indicated it will make Office 15 available with a Metro finish, not the full Office implementation but nearly so. While this is a good choice for many, mainstream consumers may not find it critical. The average consumer doesn't use Office very often, but appreciates it when it is needed.
Facebook, Twitter. To attract the regular consumer, and choosing the Metro interface on Windows 8 indicates that is who Microsoft is targeting, these apps are crucial. These should rival all other platforms in quality, and be integrated into the base system.
Xbox games. Microsoft is in a unique position as platform owner to bring Xbox to Windows 8. I'm not talking about the social media implementation on Windows Phone, I mean real games that can be played on Windows 8. Leverage your advantage over the competition, Microsoft.
Solitaire. This one sounds frivolous, but the Solitaire game is a fixture for the Windows platform. An updated version of Solitaire to take advantage of the touch interface in Metro, with updated graphics would make new users feel like they are coming home.
Media integration with smartphones. People like to use tablets for listening to music and watching videos, and a good method to sync that content with phones will appeal to many. Microsoft needs to think beyond Windows Phone for this capability. Bringing an app like DoubleTwist to sync with both Windows Phones, Android phones and iTunes libraries would be big.
Kindle, Nook. Reading ebooks is a popular function for tablets, and it would behoove Microsoft to get Amazon and Barnes & Noble to produce their reading apps for Metro.
File Manager. Windows 8 means files, and a good touch-optimized Metro app to handle them will be a big advantage over other mobile platforms.
The apps mentioned are not the only ones that will help Windows 8 make a splash in the market at launch, but they can go a long way to helping the reception of the new platform. Microsoft should be actively working on them now, or doing whatever is necessary to get third parties producing them. The key is making sure Windows 8 with the Metro interface is as productive out of the box as possible.