Desktop apps are now available in the Windows Store, but it doesn’t mean the oft-maligned Universal apps are dead.
In fact, they are better than ever. Their design and usability is unrecognizable from a couple of years ago, Microsoft has largely got the problem of fake and imposter apps under control, and the selection of apps is the most diverse it’s ever been.
Yes, some universal apps in the Windows Store are still poor imitations of their desktop cousins. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find some really useful, high-quality apps – you just need to know where to look.
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 | News and Sport | Food and Drink | Games | Image and Photo Editors | Music Players | Productivity | Reading | Shopping | Social Networking and Communication | Utilities | Video Players & Companion Apps
Last updated: June 2017
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.
News and Sport
With so much going on in the world, it’s vital to stay abreast of current events. And if the daily news ever becomes too much to handle, at least you check the latest happenings at your favorite sports team!
News 360 is a news aggregator. It pulls stories from multiple sources to give you a live feed of things you’re interested in.
The more you use the app, the better it gets. It will learn which subjects and topics you like the most and tailor your feed accordingly. If you give it permission, it can even use data from your Facebook and Twitter account to help it improve.
Google News Viewer is not an official Google product, but don’t let that put you off. It looks beautiful and makes reading your news a breeze.
Let’s be honest, the Google News website looks like it’s still stuck in the 2000s, so this app is a significant step up.
Newsstand is the third news aggregator on the list but it offers a couple of features that warrant its inclusion.
Firstly, you can add any site into the app using the Additions form. Secondly, you can create a Favorites list of your preferred sources, and finally, it has a built-in list of the most popular sites for easy navigation.
Newsflow is an RSS reader which is designed with the news in mind. Its key features are breaking news notifications, pinnable live titles for specific topics or sources, and searchable keywords.
It can also play YouTube videos and GIFs in-app, thus making it a one-stop shop for all your news needs.
MSN Sports is the default Microsoft sports app. It comes pre-installed on your system, but if you deleted it years ago then forgot all about it, you should give it a second chance.
You can add teams and leagues, read the latest stories across hundreds of sports from countless services, and even enable notifications for live scores and breaking news. If you’re especially interested in sports from a certain country, you can change the region within the app.
Eurosport publishes more than 150 articles a day on a wide variety of sports. Whether you want news or long-form featured content, you will find it in this app.
There’s also a huge amount of video content, so if you prefer to watch rather than read, this is a must-have.
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.
With more than 30 million users, Allrecipes is the best community-source collections of recipes anywhere on the web.
The app prompts you to find ideas in several ways. For example, you can search based on what’s in your fridge, what time of year it is, and which recipes have been saved and used most frequently.
Designed to display nutrition information for existing recipes or ones you create. It works offline and features a database of over 12,000 food types. It 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.
An 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 our 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.
Fotor is an all-in-one photo editor. It’s a worthy replacement if you don’t like Adobe Photoshop.
Alongside basic editing tools, it also offers visual effects, quick enhance, RAW file conversion, and even a collage creator. Furthermore, it’s recently been upgraded has now has improved support for EXIF data.
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.
Fresh Paint is an easy to use painting/art Windows 10 app with an easy learning curve. As such it’s 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 touchscreen 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 is available as a Windows app. You can listen to almost any channel in the world, saving you the hassle of finding the right stream in your browser.
If TuneIn Radio doesn’t suit your usage needs, check out Universal Radio. The user-driven app offers 5,550 radio stations, and more are coming online every day.
The app is also available for Android and it supports Google Chromecast.
This app provides access to the amazing free VEVO service, where videos, live concerts, and new artists await! You might need to pay for some popular live events.
First and foremost, Musixmatch is a song identifier. Like Soundhound and Shaazam, you let the app listen to a snippet of a track on the TV or radio and it will search its huge database for a match.
It also doubles as a music player; import your library and Musixmatch can add lyrics, album artwork, and other important metadata.
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.
Copying and pasting are incredibly useful and simple. If you have to move a lot of content, however, constantly bouncing back and forth between apps can quickly become frustrating.
Try using Copy Space instead. It’s a universal clipboard that can store several items at once. All your copies are sorted into categories, and it can sync between all your devices.
One of the PDF’s biggest annoyances is the lack of editing options. Although Drawboard PDF doesn’t let you edit text, you can draw all over PDF files to annotate them. The aim is to reduce the number of times you will need to print a sheet to make notes on it.
It also includes some other useful tools, including the ability to merge and reorder documents, measure lengths and angles, and overlay grids and other templates.
The free Xodo PDF Reader and Editor is an impressively full-featured PDF app. You can write on documents, annotate in real-time with other users, and make notes on blank documents so you can print them later. There is even a night mode so you can work at night without straining your eyes.
Oh, and best of all? There are no ads.
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.
TeamViewer lets you set up a connection to another computer in seconds, regardless of operating system. 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.
Overdrive has a global network of more than 34,000 libraries which you can use to borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and videos.
Anything you borrow will automatically sync across all your devices and the library is open 24/7. The app also doubles as an eReader, so you can do your borrowing and reading through the same interface.
Best of all titles are automatically returned at the end of their loan period – you’ll never have to pay a late fee again!
(Note: You need to be a member of your local library to access the app)
While Overdrive mainly focuses on books, Zinio is geared towards magazines.
You will find some of the world’s most well-known titles, including The Economist, New Scientist, Rolling Stone, GQ, and Vogue. Titles are split into nine main categories: News, Sports, Tech, Lifestyle, Women, Men, Science, International, and Arts.
Like Overdrive, if you’re a member of a library, you can rent the titles for free.
Why do you need to pay for eBooks when apps like Book Bazar Reader are out there? It scrapes lots of sources of free publications (including Guttenberg, Flibusta, FeedBooks, FreeBooks, and ManyBooks), then presents all the results to you in one easy-to-use interface.
The app supports EPUB, MOBI, FB2, PDF, and TXT formats, and has cool additional features like annotating and highlighting.
If you don’t like the interface of Bazar Book Reader, check out Freda. The principle of the app is the same; it gives you 50,000 free titles you can download and read. It supports EPUB, FB2, HTML, and TXT files and you can even import your own DRM-free books to use in the eReader.
This app gives you access to over 1 million books on the Kindle Store. All the titles can sync across all your devices. What are you waiting for? 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 for 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?
Are you looking for cheap deals and bargain prices on electronics and tech? You need Newegg. The online-only retailer has 10.5 million products and will deliver to your door. Unfortunately, the app is full-screen only.
Easily search, bid, buy, and list your own items for sale or auction with the official eBay app for Windows 10. It is 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
Do you chat online? Enjoy Facebook and Twitter? Perhaps you socialize on Reddit? Check out these awesome options.
This app offers a superior Facebook experience that arguably exceeds the web version of the popular social networking site.
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.
Baconit is the highest rated Reddit app in the store. It offers everything you’d expect from a Reddit app, including comment flairs, support for multiple user accounts, and extensive search parameters.
The app has also recently been given a design overhaul and now looks better than ever.
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.
Twitter power users will be well aware of TweetDeck. It’s the only reliable web app for managing multiple Twitter accounts from one place.
In terms of functionality, Tweeten is almost identical – but it’s designed specifically for Windows 10. It supports lists, notifications, direct messages, and the Activity Feed. There’s even a way to search for and save GIFs.
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.
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.
If you’re looking for a simpler version of Network Speed Test, check out Speed Test by Ookla. The company’s website is one of the best ways to find out the speed of your internet connection, and the web app is no different.
The app will test your ping, upload, and download speeds, and display all the data in beautifully presented real-time graphs. It’ll even keep a log of previous tests so you can track how your speed varies over time.
By now, everyone should know about the importance of using strong passwords. As password hacks become more common, failure to do so have genuinely catastrophic real-world consequences.
But making strong passwords isn’t always easy; there are so many facets of password creation you need to remember. Instead, why not let the Advanced Password Generator do it for you?
It can use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and punctuation to make your password as secure as possible.
Video Players & Companion Apps
Do you like watching TV and movies? How about streaming content from popular subscription services? Do you like casting your own collection of videos? You need these apps.
Plex and Kodi are the two biggest names in the home theater world. Kodi doesn’t have a Windows Store app, but Plex does.
It will let you access any videos, photos, and music that you have on your server via your Windows PC. To supercharge your experience, you should install some of the best unofficial Plex channels.
Enjoy TV episodes, movies, and original content from the world’s leading streaming subscription service. This Netflix app is comparable with the browser interface, and in some ways better. You can watch in 4K if you have a suitable monitor.
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.
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.
As more and more people cut the cord, YouTube has emerged as a popular way for users to get their entertainment fix.
Sadly, you won’t find an official YouTube app in the Windows Store, but Tubecast is the next best thing. It acts as a YouTube client and can stream content to smart TVs, Chromecasts, Amazon Fire sticks, Rokus, PlayStations, Xboxes, and any DLNA-enabled gadget.
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.