From slightly ropey beginnings in 2012, Windows 8 has developed and evolved. By now, you should be using Windows 8.1, a much more stable and user-friendly version, one that has an improved selection of apps available, free and paid.
We’re talking games, note-taking apps, video streaming, cloud storage, utilities, audio streaming and MP3 players and even e-readers. The selection is considerable.
Last updated: December 9, 2014
Below are the Windows 8 Modern apps that you should install, or consider installing, on your computer.
Dropbox, Box and OneDrive all naturally have apps for Windows 8, enabling you to access your cloud-stored data using the Modern interface.
Offering 5GB 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 8 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.
Provides a single user interface to your (native) OneDrive, Dropbox or other cloud account, saving you the trouble of having to open different apps to browse your favourite photos. RainbowDrive also supports multiple accounts for each provider, potentially enabling vast storage.
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.
Perhaps the ideal kitchen companion, featuring a collection of free recipes and in app purchases of some curated menus from the world-famous celebrity chef’s impressive repertoire. Check our review of Jamie Oliver’s app to find out just why we included it in this Best of Windows 8 Modern Apps list.
If you’ve ever come across a recipe with temperatures that don’t make sense, this app is for you. Banish problems getting your meals cooked properly with this Windows 8 app, which displays the correct temperature and cooking times for different foods as well as an illustation of gas mark, Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Designed to display nutrition information for existing recipes or ones you create. Works offline and features a database of over 12000 food types, this is a great way to find out just what foods in your diet are healthy and where you can make improvements.
Video games on Windows 8 are touch optimized experiences, although they can often be accessed with keyboard and mouse. While there are several platform-specific games, you’ll find that quite a few of these titles are available on mobile devices. We’ve collected the best exclusive titles for Windows 8.
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 8 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.
A beautifully produced free game is a new variation on the classic Mahjong – this time with Xbox Live integration to unlock achievements and challenge friends. Features several game modes, and you can use your fingers to rotate the game tiles for a better look at what can be paired off.
Non-Exclusives on Windows 8
Many other games can be found in the Windows 8 app store, such as the ever-popular Radiant and its follow-up Radiant Defense, Pinball FX2 and the popular Angry Birds titles, Angry Birds Space ($3.49) and Angry Birds Star Wars ($3.49) (largely the same as Angry Birds Space, but with added Star Wars-style goodness; it’s also virtually the same game as the iPad version, which Tim Brookes reviewed in 2013).
Meanwhile, The Chess Lv.100 is great for lovers of the ancient game, and Wordament is aimed at word game fans. For fans of the bigger game titles, GTA San Andreas ($6.99) is optimised for touch devices while Asphalt 7: Heat should satiate the needs of the speed freaks. Also consider the Xbox Games tool.
Image and Photo Editors
Whether you’re editing photos or creating a work of digital art from scratch, Windows 8 has on offer several great tools, free and paid, to help you achieve your finished piece.
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 8 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 8’s touch screen interface.
Rock out with your Windows 8 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 8. 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. Curiously there is no TuneIn Radio Pro available for Windows 8.
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 favourites and play them from your personal dashboard.
Like any computer platform, Windows 8 is designed for productivity as well as entertainment. It’s not all about cooking, either, with tools for note-taking, remote desktop and more.
Make notes, plan outlines, clip resources and sync your digital scrapbook to the cloud with this fast, impressive app with its unique finger-friendly dial menu. 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.
Don’t have Microsoft Word installed? Don’t worry – if someone emails you a .DOC or .DOCX file you can use this viewer app to open and read it. Be aware that this is purely a viewer, however. You will be unable to make any edits only open, view and print documents.
Setup 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!
The popular audiobook streaming service is now available for Windows 8 users, where a library of 100,000+ books is waiting to be read to you. Our Audible review explains how it all works, but if you’re a fan of having a renowned actor read a book to you, you’ve probably stopped reading and bought it already.
Originally designed as a Google Reader Windows 8 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 8 computer is a hub to the online marketplace, where names such as Amazon and eBay can be connected to directly from within a dedicated app and a purchase made. Who needs a browser?
Easily search, bid, buy and list your own items for sale or auction with the official eBay app for Windows 8. Very similar to the eBay apps for other platforms and just as easy to use.
Using this Amazon Windows 8 app is faster than using the website. Search is fast, processing purchases efficient – try it!
Whether you’re looking for something for sale, somewhere to live or even somewhere to work, this remarkable Windows 8 app lets you win at using Craigslist. Previously known as Craigslist+.
Social Networking and Communication
Chat online? Enjoy Facebook and Twitter? Perhaps you socialise on the front page of the web, Reddit, commenting on stories big and small?
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! Pages can be accessed, although you cannot share links to them at present. Unlike other platforms, Facebook chat remains within the app, rather than in a third party.
Metro-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 8.
Other social apps you might be interested in are StumbleUpon, Tweetro+ ($9.99) (a multi-account Twitter client), 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 8 can be your toolbox. It can be your search tool, your calculator and even your digital nightstand.
This Windows 8 app displays up to six from a choice of 12 different tools (including clock, calculator, weather, timer, web search and social Facebook) in a single full-screen app. Useful!
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.
Giving you everything you need to check the speed of your Internet connection, this app is provided by Microsoft and helps you to determine what online activities you can expect to perform.
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, as Justin Dennis discovered.
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.
If you own an Xbox One and a Windows 8 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.
The popular online collaborative video app seen on Android and iPhone is now on Windows 8, enabling you to upload clips and mix it with that of other people at the same event.
One of the most popular YouTube apps for Windows 8, 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…
You’ve seen the apps we’ve included in our Best of Windows 8 Modern apps, but which would you add? Are there any you suggest we should remove? The comments box below awaits your feedback, and we’ll be taking on board your suggestions when we come to curate our next update.