20 Essential Window 8 Apps (Part 1)

2/2/2013 4:43:46 PM

Windows 8 is all about the apps. Here are the most important ones you should download first.


SmartGlass functions like a second screen for your Xbox 360. It keeps track of what you’re watching or playing and offers complementary information such as achievement charts and additional video content. You can also use your PC as a remote control for your 360, launching videos or games on your HDTV from within SmartGlass. Further, it allows you to track real-time stats while watching sports, queue up songs in a dance game, or check your in game GPS while racing. Microsoft will update the app with a bevy of new features to accompany the Windows 8 launch.

Description: Entertainment is more amazing with Xbox SmartGlass

Entertainment is more amazing with Xbox SmartGlass


Everyone needs a good, free instant messaging client, and though the Windows 8 Messaging app is functional enough, as of press time for this issue it supported only the Windows Messenger and Facebook chat services. That situation may change in the future, but if you want to chat with your friends across disparate chat networks such as AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, and Jabber, the IM+ app has you covered right now. Not only is it free, but also it supports a variety of chat networks, and it lets you enable push notifications so that you can stay on top of your social life no matter what app you happen to be using.

Microsoft Minesweeper

Windows 8 is the first version of Windows since 3.1 (released way back in 1992!) that doesn’t come with Minesweeper pre-installed; but if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can download the game for free from the Windows Store. The classic guessing game-play of Minesweeper remains the same as it ever was, but Microsoft has updated this Windows 8 version with a fresh coat of paint and some new features, including an Adventure mode, online leaderboards, and the ability to log in with your Xbox Live account and earn Minesweeper Achievements.

Description: Microsoft Minesweeper

Microsoft Minesweeper


The free 7GB of SkyDrive storage space that Windows 8 hands out to new Microsoft accounts is plenty if you just need to sync your photos and personal documents. For serious cloud storage, however, many businesses and business professionals turn to Box. Whereas most cloud lockers focus solely on consumers, Box offers Business and Enterprise storage options, along with several consumer-friendly features. These include a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, full text search, document collaboration, and restorable version histories. IT nerds will be happy, too, thanks to robust administrative controls, strong security features, and comprehensive audit trails. But this slick Windows 8 app does have a few quirks. Unlike the Web app, for example, it relies on third-party programs to open files. Nevertheless, overall it’s a great piece of software for business professionals and for small-business owners.

Tuneln Radio

There are more than 14,000 radio stations in the United States, and Tuneln Radio will let you listen to most of them plus a bunch more from across the world for free. Though you could always stream your favorite radio station from your browser, Tuneln has done a fantastic job of bringing together a huge variety of AM/FM radio streams and podcasts in one slick app that’s simple to navigate. The sound quality is great, playback rarely stutters, the Tuneln live tile displays information on what’s currently playing, and you can choose from more than 70,000 talk shows, sports broadcasts, news programs, and local radio broadcasts and podcasts.

Description: Tuneln Radio

Tuneln Radio


A perennial favorite, Evernote is one of the best free tools available for staying on top of your to-do list because you can access it from anywhere and on almost any device, including your new Windows 8 PC. The Windows 8 app packs all the functionality of Evernote into a custom interface graced with big, beautiful buttons designed to make swiping through on your touchscreen extremely easy. You can create and view notes and notebooks, clip websites and data from other apps in your Evernote notebook for later, and share your notes and notebooks with other Windows 8 apps and Evernote users.

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