When all is said and done, apps—or maybe the lack thereof—will stand out as the factor that makes or breaks Windows 8.1/8. When you create a new interface, you need a rich ecosystem of apps to enrich the platform. Unfortunately, after more than a year since the initial release of Windows 8, Microsoft is still working to populate the Windows Store with Windows 8 apps. As of December 2013, there were 130,892 apps in the Windows Store. Although that’s nothing to sneeze at, the number is dwarfed by the more than 1 million apps in the Apple Store and the more than 700,000 apps in Google Play. But if you look around, you'll find a number of cool apps that are more useful to IT pros than Angry Birds. These are my top 10 Windows 8.1 apps.
One of the most useful Apps for Windows 8.1 is the Skype App. As you might expect, the Skype app lets you IM and send files, as well as make and recieve video calls. In Windows 8.1, the Skype app provides the ability to answer calls from the lock screen without having to log in. The new Skype app is built in to Windows 8.1, but you can also get it for free from the Windows Store.
It might be a stretch to include Facebook in a list of apps for IT pros, but you know you use it. The Facebook app lets you check and post status updates and photos, as well as chat with other Facebook users. The Share charm allows you to automatically attach the photos you're viewing to posts. You can download the Facebook app for free from the Windows Store.
The official Twitter app's look and feel resemble that of the Twitter web page. The app supports URL shortening, multiple Twitter accounts, and picture attachments. The Twitter app is built in to Windows 8.1, but you can also download it for free from the Windows Store.
If you’re a big Twitter user, you might want to check out Tweetium as an alternative to the Twitter app. Hailed by many as the best Twitter client, Tweetium is laid out a bit like TweetDeck. With Tweetium, your tweets, messages, and notifications are presented horizontally. You can block users or specific hashtags from your feed, and an indicator tells you when you last used the app. Tweetium is $2.99 in the Windows Store.
6. Nextgen Reader
An RSS reader for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Nextgen Reader allows you to pin multiple live tiles to the Start screen; it displays a list of feeds along the left side of the screen and a reading pane on the right. Tapping the app’s logo in the top left corner shifts it into the Windows 8 tiled interface. Nextgen Reader is $2.99 in the Windows Store, but a free trial is also available.
Flipboard is a personal magazine that you create by collecting search results for people, topics, hashtags, blogs, and other websites, which Flipboard organizes into a digital magazine format. The Flipboard app can search through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. Flipboard supports live tiles and looks great in Windows 8.1. You can get Flipboard for free from the Windows Store.
4. Adobe Photoshop Express
Although not as full featured as the full Adobe Photoshop application, Adobe Photoshop Express lets you to edit your photos. This app supports all of the basic photo-editing tools that you want, including cropping, rotating, brightening, and removing red eye. Live tiles display your recent photos. You can download the Adobe Photoshop Express app for free from the Windows Store.
You probably see Wikipedia results in most Google (or Bing) searches, but the new Windows 8.1 Wikipedia app lets you search Wikipedia directly from your desktop. The app highlights featured images and articles. You search for topics using the Search charm. One of the interesting things about the Wikipedia app is that it is 100 percent open source. You can get the Wikipedia app for free from the Windows Store.
2. Evernote Touch
A handy app, but not quite up to the level of the OneNote app that's at the top of my list, Evernote Touch is the Windows 8.1 version of the popular Evernote note-taking app. Evernote Touch lets you record notes and photos and then organize them into multiple notebooks. Evernote Touch will sync notes across Windows 8.1/8, Windows Phone, Android, iPhone, and other devices. You can get the Evernote Touch app for free from the Windows Store.
The coolest new app for Windows 8.1 might be the OneNote app. Like its full Office counterpart, the OneNote app is a digital notebook that records notes, drawings, photos, and other digital content into multiple notebooks. The app supports the Share charm, allowing you to copy web content and information from other Windows 8.1 apps. There’s a new camera-scanning optical character recognition (OCR) ability that lets you search for text in photos and screenshots. An insertion wheel lets you add a table, tag, photo, or list and also lets you paste to your notes. OneNote can sync across all your devices via SkyDrive. You can download the OneNote app for free from the Windows Store.