Before the Windows Store: Package Managers and Software Repositories
App stores are everywhere these days. Whether you’re using iOS or Android, you can get all your apps from a single location and have them automatically update in a consistent way. If you’re using Mac OS X, you can use the Mac App Store to get your software. Linux users use package managers with large software repositories to easily install all the software they need. There’s just one platform that seems untouched by time: the Windows desktop.
Luckily, there are a variety of tools that aim to provide an app store for Windows desktop programs, allowing you to easily install and update software on your Windows desktop. Microsoft is even adding an app store to Windows 8. However, the Windows Store won’t include desktop programs – it will link to them, but there’s no streamlined installation process or built-in automatic updates.
Allmyapps is an app store for your Windows PC. It offers over 16,000 apps. You’ll find everything from Minecraft to antivirus programs , web browsers, and media players like iTunes and WinAmp. Check out the All My Apps website for a full list of apps.
Allmyapps runs as an application on your computer. You can browse the available software and click the Install button to easily install an app. Allmyapps will automatically download the app and install it for you – there’s no waiting for the app to download and clicking through an installer wizard while trying to avoid unwanted toolbars and other bloatware . Allmyapps does it all for you, although some applications may still require you to click through the installer. You can queue up multiple applications to download and install them all at once, saving valuable time.
When an application update is available, Allmyapps will notify you. This works even for applications already on your computer before you installed with All My Apps.
Allmyapps is an amazing application, as it’s probably the closest thing to a proper Windows desktop app store out there. It’s the kind of application that Microsoft should write themselves and include with Windows. Windows users will probably find it a lot more useful than the Windows Store included with Windows 8 , which only installs and updates apps for the “Windows 8 interface” formerly known as Metro. For more information, check out our full review of Allmyapps .
Chocalatey allows you to install Windows software by typing two words. Imagine being able to install VLC by typing “cinst vlc” into a Command Prompt window and pressing Enter. No visiting an application’s website, locating a download link, downloading the file, launching the installer, and clicking through a wizard – just two words and everything will be automatically downloaded and installed.
Chocalatey offers over 480 packages. There’s a lot of popular software, including VLC , Skype, Adobe Reader, 7-Zip, Paint.NET , Google Chrome, Firefox, Notepad++, and more. You can view and search the complete list of available software on Chocalaty’s Packages page.
Chocalatey is like an apt-get for Windows – you’ll be familiar with apt-get and package managers if you’ve ever used Ubuntu or another Linux distribution . Where Allmyapps feels inspired by mobile app stores, Chocalatey feels inspired by Linux package managers and command-line tools. There’s no question that Chocalatey is awesome. With a graphical interface that makes things easier for non-geeks and more available software packages, it could be huge.
Want to get started with Chocalatey? Check out our full review of Chocalatey, where we walk you through the process of installing it (as easy as typing a single command!) and installing your first application (also by typing a single command!).
Intel offers their own app store, Intel AppUp, which you may find included on ultrabooks and other new PCs. Unlike the other applications here, it’s more focused on paid software. However, Intel AppUp offers some free applications, too.
AppUp is also a bit more focused on mobile-style software, with its storefront page plastered with Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja (Angry Birds costs $5, but you can get Fruit Ninja Lite for free.) Still, you’ll find some typical desktop software here, including VLC.
On the whole, Allmyapps offers more of the applications you’d expect to find in a package manager for Windows. Allmyapps also has much more of a focus on free software.
We also have to mention Ninite , which a lot of geeks love. It allows you to select a variety of popular programs and download a file that quickly installs all of them, saving you lots of time when installing your favorite software on a new computer.
Which Windows app store do you prefer? Do you use any of the programs here? Leave a comment and share your experience with them!