Software

Does the Windows Store have what it takes to ensure the future of the Windows operating system?

The Windows Store has come under fire for its limited inventory--but Greg Shultz thinks there are enough useful and diverse offerings to keep the Windows OS going strong.

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Image: Microsoft

In the Tech Insider section of the Business Insider website, I found an article titled For Microsoft Windows, it's do or die. The gist of the article is that if Microsoft wants Windows to survive over the long term, it's going to have to do more than create new Surface PCs every year—it's going to have to work on improving the offerings found in the Windows Store to give users a wider range of high quality apps to run on their high quality Surface PCs. In other words, it needs to find effective ways to encourage more of the traditional desktop software companies to create app versions of their desktop applications.

This got me thinking about the apps currently found in the Windows Store. I agree that it would be better if the Windows Store had more name brand productivity apps. However, I disagree with the read between the lines implication that the Windows Store is lacking high quality apps from recognized names. There are plenty to be found, if you are willing to take the time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Big name brands are spread throughout the Windows Store in a multitude of categories. Let's take a closer look.

Tablets vs. traditional PCs

Before we get started, let me point out that for the most part, apps are designed more for tablets than traditional desktop/laptop PCs. Of course, most apps run fine on a traditional PC, but if you are using a traditional PC, chances are that you are going to be using traditional desktop applications. So please don't fill this article's discussion area with disparaging comments about the uselessness of Windows Store apps on traditional PCs.

Small name apps

On another note, when I used the term chaff in the introduction, I wasn't intending to demean any of the small name apps found in abundance in the Windows Store. Just because the name of the company doesn't carry the same instant recognition as, say, Microsoft or Google doesn't mean that the app isn't worthwhile. There are a lot of terrific apps in the Windows Store from software developers you've never heard of before. And of course there are a lot of obtuse apps to be found in the Windows Store too. Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has done a fair job of cleaning up the content in the Windows Store, but there are still a few stinkers on the shelves.

Big name apps

So if the idea is that for Windows to survive, the Windows Store needs to be populated with enough big brand names to keep users interested, I think Microsoft is well along on that path. Here are some of the big brand name apps I found in the Windows Store.

Microsoft apps

Naturally, I'm going to start with Microsoft apps. After all, it's Microsoft's store so it really should be providing a lot of apps. And it is. Microsoft has created a nice variety of Windows Store apps.

Of course, in the productivity category there are the Office apps: Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile, Mail and Calendar, and OneNote. And there are plenty of others, such as Sway, Microsoft Project Siena, and Lync.

The information category offers a nice set of MSN-branded apps, such as MSN Weather, MSN News, MSN Money, and MSN Sports. Microsoft has even created a very cool app called NFL on Windows. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone watching football— Surface tablets are everywhere. It's the Official Tablet of the NFL.

To find more Microsoft apps, search the store with the keyword Microsoft Corporation.

If you need to take a break, the Windows Store contains a host of games under the XBOX brand, including updated versions of old favorites, such as Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper. You'll also find hit games like Halo and Gears of War.

To see the full set of Microsoft's games, search the store with the keyword Microsoft Studios or XBOX.

SEE: Microsoft Surface Pro 4: The smart person's guide

Adobe apps

Need to open a PDF? There are plenty of PDF apps in the Windows Store, but if you want to stick with the original, you can get Adobe Reader Touch to view your PDFs. And while photo editing apps are a dime a dozen, if you are going to photoshop an image, you really should use the Adobe Photoshop Express app.

To see Adobe's other offerings, search the Store for Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Amazon apps

Amazon has several apps in the Windows Store. The main Amazon app allows you to shop just as you do in the browser. There's also a Kindle app that provides access to a multitude of online books in a polished reader environment. If you don't have time to read, you can listen with the Audiobooks from Audible app.

SEE: How to use Phone Companion to set up Windows 10 apps on your mobile device

News apps

If you want to keep up with the latest news, you'll find plenty of big name apps in the Windows Store. For example, the CBS television network has several: CBS, CBS Local, CBS News, and CBS Sports Fantasy. NBC television network also has a number of apps in the Windows Store: NBC News, Breaking News, NBC Sports, and SyFy Now. Other big name news apps include ABC News, USA Today, and the Weather Channel.

Entertainment apps

All sorts of entertainment apps are available in the Windows Store. A few of the big brand names are SiriusXM, Pandora, NetFlix, and AMC Theatres.

Social media apps

Not surprisingly, the Windows store contains some big brand name social media apps: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Vine.

Productivity/utility apps

When it comes to productivity or utility apps, some of the big brand names are: Citrix GoToMeeting, Evernote, and DropBox.

Shopping apps

Shopping apps are also popular in the Windows Store. Big brand names include Newegg, eBay, Office Depot, Home Shopping Network, and Zappos.

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What's your take?

Do you think that the Windows Store has enough big brand name apps to ensure the survival of Windows? Are there other prominent apps you would add to my list of examples? Share your thoughts and ideas with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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