Use Windows 8 In Style With These Amazing Metro (Modern) Apps

Christian Cawley 14-02-2013

windows 8 modern appsAs a Windows Phone user since the platform launched in 2010, I had a hope that Windows 8 would be a big success for Microsoft, if only to see some imaginative implementations of the tile-based user interface once known as “Metro” (and now referred to as Modern).


Sadly, Windows 8 hasn’t quite taken off yet, but this shortcoming certainly isn’t due to a lack of apps. After all, there are several years’ worth of traditional Windows desktop apps to fall back on! As for those optimized for use under the Start screen and the Modern UI, however, there are several that really take advantage of the platform and its new visual style.

Whether you’re using a Windows 8 RT device (such as the Microsoft Surface) or a standard Windows 8 computer, the following Windows 8 Modern apps will help you to realize the true power and potential of Microsoft’s new consumer computing paradigm.

Fresh Paint

Windows has never really shipped with anything nearing an effective paint toolbox since the 1990s. Although the traditional Paint application (the same version that was updated for Windows 7) is included, the Windows Store offers Fresh Paint (covered previously on MakeUseOf), a free app that has proved extremely popular among users so far.

windows 8 modern apps

This touch-based app can be used with a mouse, but it is for fingers that it is really optimised. Several brushes are on offer, along with background color fill options, pencils, backgrounds textures and the ability to take snapshots of your finished images.


In addition, various DLC is available, free and premium. The Finding Nemo pack might cost a couple of dollars, but the there is also the free Fun Pack full of paint templates to get you started. As Fresh Paint itself is free from the Windows App Store, this makes for lots of fun for no expense!

Ideal for younger users, Fresh Paint has potential beyond just colouring in. Add a stylus and you have an instant sketch pad!


While it doesn’t attempt to replace high-end tools such as Photoshop, Fhotoroom is a free app that enables you to easily crop, resize, edit and adjust the colours on images and photos that you have saved to your Windows 8 computer.

windows 8 modern applications


Optimised for touch, you can also add frames and various exposure alterations as well as some interesting filters for the Instagram-esque approach. Most crucially, this is a very easy-to-use application!

Note that Fhotoroom – which must be installed from the Windows App Store – isn’t entirely free. If you want to pay for the pro version you can unlock additional filters, but you should find most of what you need is available in the free app.


While I’m not what you would call a OneNote enthusiast, I do admire its ability at cross-platform syncing of notes, and have used it often over the past few years since I bought my first Windows Phone.

windows 8 modern applications


This latest version is available free and independently of Microsoft Office from the Windows Store, and offers a fascinating new touch-based user interface.

As you type your notes, a small arrow appears, and upon tapping it you will be presented with the menu wheel, a great new way to offer the traditional Microsoft formatting options in a compact, contextual setting. A different menu will appear if you have text selected, for instance.

With the ability to sync your notes via SkyDrive to other devices, OneNote is an unmissable Windows 8 application! You’ll find OneNote in the Windows App Store.

7digital Music

Music lovers who want to grab the best new music, download it to their computers and sync with other devices should make a beeline for the 7digital Music app, which offers the latest albums and individual tracks in MP3 format, complete with preview listens and competitive pricing.


windows 8 modern applications

You will of course need to sign up to use the service, but with low prices and regular sales you should easily find the music you want to listen to and own.


Barely a day goes by when I don’t check Wikipedia for information (usually system specs, or the birth and death dates of a notable person) and while its natural home is surely a traditional web browser, the Windows 8 app for the website is pretty astonishing.

windows 8 metro apps

As you can see from the screenshot, Wikipedia is optimized to run in landscape mode, although as with most good apps it easily switches to portrait mode when the tablet is rotated. Amazingly, however, this app turns the famous online encyclopedia into a virtual book – just like a traditional encyclopedia!

In other words, into the encyclopedia that Wikipedia has always wanted to be! You’ll find this free app in the Windows App Store.


It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been keeping abreast of developments in the technology world to learn that Microsoft’s most recent big acquisition, Skype, is available as an app for Windows 8.

windows 8 modern apps

While not as integrated as many users (and Microsoft) may like, this piece of software is pretty much vital for communications and messaging, particularly as Windows Live Messenger (formerly known as MSN Messenger) is to be retired.

The touchscreen interface on Skype is quick and effective, making it particularly useful for the tablet/hybrid users. Favourite contacts can be specified while the links that you will need to use to buy credit or get a subscription are present, although these open in the browser rather than allowing transactions within the app.

Free to download and use when calling other users, the Skype app will of course require you to setup a subscription or a pre-pay account for calling landlines and mobiles.


Windows 8 may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but there can be no denying the fact that publishers that are supporting the touch-based platform are doing their utmost to present a selection of stylish, cool and usable apps.

If you’re planning on trying to sell the idea of a Windows 8 computer – particularly one of the tablet devices – to your friends, then make sure you have installed these apps, and use them at every opportunity!

Remember, these apps will work with both Windows 8 RT Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT edition was discreetly launched about a month and a half ago with the flagship Microsoft Surface RT tablet device. Though visually indistinguishable from Windows 8, there are some key differences as to what... Read More devices and standard Windows 8 tablet, hybrid and desktop computers.

Do you have a preferred Windows 8 touchscreen app? Let us know!

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  1. dragonmouth
    February 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    The article should start with a disclaimer in upper case letters to the effect that Metro works satisfactorily ONLY on tablets and phones. On a traditional monitors Metro is a total bust. Considering the fact that the vast majority of Windows users are still using legacy (non-touch) monitors and that Surface and Windows Phones have not made any significant impact on the marketplace, it is not surprising that Win 8 "hasn't taken off yet" and "is not a success for Microsoft". Let's not forget that Metro is the last "Modern" interface to the market following iOS and Android. Even Linux brought a "modern" interface (Unity) to the market before Microsoft released Metro. Too little, too late and way off target.

    • Christian Cawley
      February 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      "The article should start with a disclaimer in upper case letters to the effect that Metro works satisfactorily ONLY on tablets and phones"

      Why? It obviously works well on hybrids.

      "Surface and Windows Phones have not made any significant impact on the marketplace, "

      You're lumping together two completely different platforms aimed at different audiences. You're also overlooking the strength of Nokia in the UK and Europe.

      Actually, scratch all of that. You're missing the point. This is an article about the good Metro apps, not a personal sounding board for you to tell the world what you think about Windows 8. It's pretty rude to hijack a post in this way!

      • dragonmouth
        February 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm

        Actually, it is you who is missing the point. To get any benefit from Metro one needs a touch-enable screen. Right or wrong? On my CRT, Metro apps, no matter how wonderful, will not work.

        What is rude is you writing a writing a glowing opinion article about "good Metro apps" and then complaining because my post did not praise them also. Show me which of my facts is wrong.
        1. There were three other touch screen interfaces released and in use before Microsoft released Metro.
        2. The vast majority of Windows users still do not have touch screen capability.
        3. Metro is not designed for use on non-touch screens.
        4. Surface and Windows phone have a very small share of the market.
        5. The opinion of Wall Street and industry analysts is that Microsoft is playing catch up with Metro, Surface and Windows phone.

        BTW - I did not "tell the world my opinion of Win8". I have no opinion on the subject. I just told you what the world thinks of Win 8.

        • Christian Cawley
          February 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm

          Your facts are wrong:
          1. Much more than 3.
          2. The vast majority of Windows users aren't even using 7200 RPM HDDs.
          3. Actually, this is wrong. Metro MUST have been designed for use on none touch devices as it can be easily navigated by anyone prepared to spend a few hours to get to grips with it.
          4. WRONG. Two separate platforms, two separate markets. I couldn't care less about Surface RT (which I imagine you're referring to) but Windows Phone has tripled its market share in the UK in the past 12 months. That is small, granted, but considerable.
          5. Wow. "playing catch up" - quite a turn of phrase for platforms that WERE RELEASED AFTER ALL OF THE OTHERS. Of course they're playing catch up. If they weren't, they would have been released first.

          With regard to your bizarre comment "Last time I heard UK was part of Europe. Why do you differentiate?"

          I wasn't. The UK is part of a European Union, but as you will have noticed is culturally closer to North America. The EU is also a traditional strong market for Nokia, which again, as with all of my points, you've ignored.

          Now look. This is not an opinion article. This piece is intended to highlight some good touch-based apps for Windows 8.

          By misundertanding this, you're making a fool of yourself.

          There are PLENTY of other active discussions about Windows 8's pros and cons on MUO and elsewhere online. I don't feel that hijacking this post, as you have done, is useful, it certainly isn't constructive and it stifles comments from people who actually have something to say about the topic at hand.

          In the grand scheme of things, no one cares if you can't use Metro on your CRT. The fact that you are using a CRT places you in a particular subgroup of user to whom Windows 8 isn't aimed.

          So forget about it. It's not for you - that's fine!

      • dragonmouth
        February 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm

        "It obviously works well on hybrids."
        The vast majority of users do not have hybrids.

        "You’re lumping together two completely different platforms aimed at different audiences."
        Maybe, but they both use Metro.

        "You’re also overlooking the strength of Nokia in the UK and Europe."
        Nokia financial statements and stock price belie your claim of strength. Last time I heard UK was part of Europe. Why do you differentiate?

  2. kennyS
    February 17, 2013 at 2:19 am

    I have win 8 on all my computers but have gone through great lengths to make it work like win 7 and hide the horrid 'modern' ui

  3. Scott Macmillan
    February 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

    The spam is getting bad on all of the tech sites that I visit.Do the people who send them really believe that we are a good target audience?

  4. Daniel J. Karas
    February 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    It's posts like these that illustrate why MUO needs a "Flag as Spam" option.

    • Nevzat Akkaya
      February 15, 2013 at 7:15 am

      He/she posts everyday under a new nick name, unstoppable :(

    • Nevzat Akkaya
      February 15, 2013 at 7:16 am

      IP based ban may be a solution?

    • Nevzat Akkaya
      February 15, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Regarding the metro apps, I've installed a lot of them, maybe hundreds of them, however I only use Metro games among them, though I have a touch screen laptop. For the other apps, I keep using classic interface anyway, maybe it's my habits, I don't know.