Microsoft has announced they will start allowing desktop apps into the Windows Store. It’s a sensible move and one that’s long overdue, but does it spell the end for the oft-maligned Universal apps?
In a word – no.
Admittedly, some universal apps in the Windows Store are poor imitations of their desktop cousins; the official Microsoft apps are some of the worst offenders. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find some really useful, high-quality apps in there, you just need to know what to look for.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best Windows 10 apps. Make sure you let us know what we missed!
In this article: Cloud Storage | Food and Drink | Games | Image and Photo Editors | Music Players | Productivity | Reading | Shopping | Social Networking and Communication | Utilities | Video Players & Companion Apps
Last updated: October 10, 2016
Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive all naturally have apps for Windows 10, enabling you to access your cloud-stored data using the Modern interface.
Offering 5 GB of free storage, Box is a popular cloud storage solution among home and business consumers alike.
There is room for improvement in the Dropbox Windows app, but it is functional and allows you to open, edit save, and share your data with contacts. Although it doesn’t use the Dropbox folder on your PC (for instance if you are also using the desktop version), it does make your files available quickly.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s flagship cloud storage service. For people who don’t want to deal with the somewhat fiddly desktop folder, the app is a great alternative. It works on both Windows 10 and Windows Mobile.
Food and Drink
Cooking isn’t for everyone, but if you have an interest in getting to grips with one of life’s most vital skills, having a computer on hand is particularly useful. Touchscreen devices like Windows tablets are of considerable use in the kitchen, along with these apps.
If you’ve ever come across a recipe with temperatures that don’t make sense, this app is for you. Banish the problems of getting your meals cooked properly with this Windows 10 app, which displays the correct temperature and cooking times for different foods as well as an illustration of gas marks, Celsius, and Fahrenheit.
Designed to display nutrition information for existing recipes or ones you create. Works offline and features a database of over 12,000 food types, this is a great way to find out just what foods in your diet are healthy and where you can make improvements.
The Windows Store is packed full of games. Some of them are great fun and keep you engaged for hours, some of them will quickly have you searching for the delete button.
Either way, very few of these are available as standalone desktop apps – the only way to play them is to download the universal app version.
Awesome top-down spin-off of the popular Xbox 360 game, this is an unusually strong title for touch devices and unmissable if you own a Windows 10 device. An excellent companion to the main Halo series, we absolutely loved this game, and you can read more about it in my Halo: Spartan Assault review.
This hack’n’slash RPG takes you into an apocalyptic medieval world where you play a knight completing quests to defeat zombies and collect gold. Yes, that’s right – a zombie/knight hack’n’slash with fast, frantic gameplay. Oh and it’s free too, which really seals the deal.
Two of the most relaxing pastimes meet each other in this game as you play a hand of solitaire, while simultaneously making your way around a golf course. You need to try and achieve a score of par or less to advance to the next levels (aka, holes).
Image and Photo Editors
Whether you’re editing photos or creating a work of digital art from scratch, Windows 10 has on offer several great tools, free and paid, to help you achieve your finished piece.
Not everyone needs the expensive full-featured version of Photoshop, but there are lots of times you’ll need something more powerful than MS Paint.
A great option is Adobe Photoshop Express. It’s designed to be an on-the-go photo editor. Features include basic alternations like crop, straighten, rotate, and flip, one-touch adjustments for brightness, exposure, and shadows, and slider controls for exposure, contrast, clarity, and vibrance.
If you have an Adobe ID, you can download additional plugins.
Excellent photo app migrated from Windows Phone, with a collection of basic editing tools and over 70 styles, frames, filters, and light leaks.
Easy to use painting/art Windows 10 app with very low learning curve, this is ideal for kids and adults, – all you need is a desire to paint! If you’re using a tablet with a stylus, such as the Surface Pro slates, this app suddenly becomes all the more powerful.
Find photos and videos on your computer, network, or external storage and enjoy them in stunning slideshows with fade and zoom effects. This is a great way to unify your images and view and edit them in a single app in Windows 10’s touch screen interface.
Rock out with your Windows 10 computer thanks to this collection of MP3 players and audio streaming apps.
Does it get better than free internet radio? The popular mobile radio streaming app, now on Windows 10. Pretty much any channel in the world can be tuned into with this app, saving you the bother of finding the right stream in your browser.
Provides access to the amazing free VEVO service, where videos, live concerts and new artists await! Note that some events may need to be booked or a nominal fee paid.
Browse and listen to thousands of SoundCloud tracks, share with friends and explore playlists uploaded by other users. You can also mark tracks as favorites and play them from your personal dashboard.
Like any computer platform, Windows 10 is designed for productivity as well as entertainment. It’s not all about cooking, either, with tools for note-taking, remote desktop and more.
Yes, Google Translate is still the market leader in the world of translation apps. Sadly, it doesn’t have a Windows Store app.
If you interact a lot with other languages – perhaps because of your news interests, cultural interests, or work requirements – it can quickly become frustrating to keep jumping between the documents you’re working on and the Google Translate website.
The translation quality of Bing Translator is just as good as Google Translate, it works offline, and it’ll sit happily in your taskbar for easy access.
Make notes, plan outlines, clip resources, and sync your digital scrapbook to the cloud with this fast, impressive app and its unique finger-friendly dial menu. It features OneDrive syncing, enabling you to instantly see your notes on other devices. Note that EverNote Touch is also available if you prefer that notebook syncing service.
There are lots of family budgeting desktop apps trying to grab your attention, and even more web apps. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try making your own budgeting spreadsheet in Excel.
Or, you could consider Money Lover – Money Manager.
You can track your money across long time periods, it comes with a financial calendar that’ll send you alerts and notifications, it includes lots of useful (and free) graphs and charts, and it works in multiple currencies.
Are you looking for a fast and easy-to-use code editor app? Code Writer has you covered.
It’s been around since the early days of Windows 8 and has built a loyal following of fans. It comes with active syntax highlighting, supports more than 20 file types, and has a live tile that displays both the names and save states of your open documents.
Interestingly, it also supports several cloud storage services, so you can take your project with you wherever you go.
Set up a connection to another computer in seconds, whether it is a Windows, Mac, or Linux device. Connections are secure and no configuration is required for firewalls and proxies. If you regularly have to access other computers for support or collaboration, TeamViewer Touch should be your number one choice.
Whether you’re using a tablet computer, a desktop, laptop, or hybrid, reading apps are vital to digesting information from the latest bestsellers to reports in PDF format.
Access to over 1 million books on the Kindle Store is granted to you with this app, which can sync across devices. Get reading!
Who’s got time to read books these days? Between commuting to work, updating Facebook statuses, and feeding the dog, most of us don’t have a spare minute in our days.
That’s why audiobooks have grown in popularity over the last few years. They let you drive, update Facebook, and feed the dog at the same time, all while still managing to give your brain a fix of quality literature.
The Audible app has all the features you’d expect. They also recently added streaming, so you don’t need to download a book to listen to it.
Unfortunately, the live tile isn’t so useful; it cannot display all the information you care about. The reality is, it’s impossible for the app to display all those headlines in such a small box.
The solution is to download News Live Tiles. It’s a glorified RSS reader that allows you to create feeds for any site you want. The headlines from those sites are then displayed in the live titles. You can have as many tiles as you want.
Originally designed as a Google Reader Windows 10 app, this tool now offers support for many other RSS feed reading services and has grown beyond its initial purpose into an extremely usable reader, complete with sharing options.
Your Windows 10 computer is a hub to the online marketplace. You can connect to the likes of Amazon or eBay and make your purchases, directly from within a dedicated app. Who needs a browser?
Easily search, bid, buy, and list your own items for sale or auction with the official eBay app for Windows 10. Very similar to the eBay apps for other platforms and just as easy to use.
Using this Amazon Windows 10 app is faster than using the website. Search is fast and processing purchases is efficient – try it!
Whether you’re looking for something for sale, somewhere to live, or even somewhere to work, this remarkable Windows 10 app lets you win at using Craigslist. Previously known as Craigslist+.
Social Networking and Communication
Chat online? Enjoy Facebook and Twitter? Perhaps you socialize on Reddit? Check out these awesome options.
Offering a superior Facebook experience that matches the popular social networking site, the only thing you can’t do with this app is play games!
Ever since Microsoft made changes to universal apps and allowed them to be operated from the taskbar, they’ve become a lot more useful. Even then, however, some apps just don’t work very well as universal apps. One exception is Facebook Messenger.
If you’re the type of person who’s always using the service to chat with friends, having a dedicated taskbar icon can be really handy. Unlike the universal Skype app, which is shockingly stripped of features, the Messenger app retains the functionality you’re used to from its website counterpart.
Modern-style Reddit experience, this app shows the front page and all subreddits, any of which can be pinned to the Start screen. There’s far more to it than this, however, as explained in our RedditToGo review.
Limited compared to some of the alternatives, Twitter nevertheless offers everything you would expect as well as the Discover tool to find trends and follow suggestions. This is the only reliable and free Twitter app for Windows 10.
Other social apps you might be interested in are StumbleUpon, IM+ (an all-in-one messenger for reaching chat contacts across several networks), and the VK app for the popular V Kontakte social network
Windows 10 is a virtual toolbox. It can be your search tool, your calculator, and even your digital nightstand.
System diagnostic tools have a tendency to be extremely complicated. If you want a quick snapshot of your computer’s most vital statistics, without wading through masses of measurements that you don’t understand, you should try PC Benchmark.
It measures the speed of your main computer components such as system storage (both HDD and SSD), the CPU, the memory, and the GPU. All the results are displayed on well-presented graphs and charts.
Access all of your local and cloud storage from one simple app. File Brick also acts as a DLNA server and facilitates sharing from YouTube, Picasa, and Flickr.
We’ve all lived in a place with a dodgy internet connection at some point in our lives. Perhaps the speed fluctuates wildly or your connection is prone to dropping out. Sadly, internet service providers rarely have much inclination to do anything about it – they’re getting your money and they’re happy.
It’s frustrating to try and build up a body of evidence to present to them. Speed test websites are full of adverts and they don’t log your historical results.
Network Speed Test rectifies the problem. It’s got a clean interface, it’s lightning fast, and it logs past network performance history in easy-to-understand charts.
Video Players & Companion Apps
Watching TV and movies, streamed content from popular online movie subscription services? You need these apps.
Enjoy TV episodes, movies, and original content from the world’s leading streamed subscription service. This Netflix app is comparable with the browser interface, and in some ways better.
What could be better than unlimited streaming of top TV shows and fantastic movies? Hulu Plus offers more than the standard Hulu service, and for many users is worth the upgrade.
The Swiss army knife of media players has been a long-time favorite of users. Unfortunately, it can be a bit aggressive on your battery life.
The Windows Store app is lighter and less resource-heavy. It supports video, audio, MKV, and FLAC playback, and lets you manage your media library.
Note: VLC also offers an app for ARM devices, called VLC for Windows Store.
If you own an Xbox One and a Windows 10 device, this is the ultimate companion app, a second screen to interact with your console and TV. An Xbox 360 version of SmartGlass is also available.
One of the most popular YouTube apps for Windows 10, Hyper enables you to view in SD, 720p and Full HD as well as download videos and MP3s to your tablet or computer. We were so impressed, we thought we would show you the benefits of Hyper for YouTube.
Now It’s Your Turn…
I hope I’ve shown you that you shouldn’t dismiss the Windows Store out of hand. It’s an increasingly important part of Microsoft’s Windows strategy and the quality of the apps within it is only getting better.
Have you found an app that you’d like to recommend to your fellow readers? Have I missed your favorite app off the list? Or do all the offerings still leave you unconvinced? Let us know your thoughts, opinions, and recommendations in the comments below.
Originally written by Christian Cawley.