The 40 Best Windows 8.1 Apps

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The new Windows is finally starting to get some traction. At the start of November, Windows 8 and 8.1 passed the 15 percent market share mark. Maybe people are finally recognizing that the benefits of the new OS go beyond just tiles on the Start screen: Startup is the fastest in the biz, security is greatly improved, settings and accounts are synced between PCs, and you're really getting two operating systems for the price of one.

With Windows 10, which is in technical preview and expected to be released in about a year, Microsoft seems to be de-emphasizing the modern user interface. The company's bringing back a modified form of the old-school start menu, shrinking modern interface's importance. On laptop and desktop PCs, the legacy desktop UI is already the default in Windows 8.1.

Despite the trend, there are thousands of modern, touch-friendly Windows apps, many of them very good, though there's plenty of chaff. You also get a good helping of excellent apps that come with Windows 8.1—including Calendar, Mail, Music, News, Photos, Scan, Sound Recorder, Travel, Videos, and Weather. But our goal here is to help you find the gems among the non-default apps.

Some marquee names have joined the flock of Windows 8 apps, including an official Facebook app, Dropbox, Flipboard, Vevo, Foursquare, Rhapsody, and TripAdvisor. And don't forget that in its desktop mode Windows 8.x still runs nearly all of the millions of applications programmed for Windows over the past decade and a half. Of course that doesn't apply to ARM-based Windows RT tablets.

You get the modern apps from the new Windows Store—Microsoft's equivalent of the iTunes App Store—which automates installation and updating, and gives both users and developers a central place to discover new and needed software. The Windows Store still has a ways to go to catch up with the more than half a million iPad apps available in Apple's iTunes App store. But according to the excellent site MetroStore Scanner there are currently over 175,000 Windows modern apps, surely more than most people will ever need.

You can either navigate our list via the 40 Best Windows 8 Apps slideshow above or page through this article to view five at a time. We've linked the app names to their Windows Store descriptions and download page. Don't hesitate to leave comments below if you want to chime in about our selections or call out a great app we've overlooked. And don't forget to check out the link below for even more Windows 8.1 coverage.

Check out our complete Windows 8 coverage.

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