Windows 8

Windows 8: The five apps you should install first

Debra Littlejohn Shinder lists the five apps businesses users should install on a new Windows 8 device.

One of the biggest attractions of Windows 8 is Microsoft's effort to bridge the gap between consumer-focused touchscreen devices and business productivity systems. The Windows 8 operating system will run both so-called "legacy" applications on the traditional desktop and the new touch/mobile-friendly "Windows 8 style" (formerly) Metro apps available through the Windows Store. Windows RT, for ARM-based devices, runs only the new style apps.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

While many business users are likely to revert to the desktop applications for more sophisticated productivity tasks, those with tablets and touchscreen laptops are going to be looking for new style apps to fill business needs. In the time leading up to launch day, Microsoft has populated the Windows Store with a sprinkling of apps in each of several categories, including Business and Productivity.

I'm writing this prior to Windows 8 release and rumor has it that the company may be "holding back" some of the best apps to release in conjunction with the OS launch (see the More on the Way section at the end of this article) so there will certainly be additions to my list at that time.

In the meantime, here are five apps that business users should consider installing immediately on a new Windows 8 device.

Remote Desktop

If I could install only one app on my Windows 8 tablet, the Remote Desktop app would be it. This is the app that gives you a full Windows desktop even on the Windows RT version of a tablet, but with a simple, touch-friendly user interface.

Through the miracle of the RDP protocol and RemoteFX technologies, the new Touch Keyboard, Touch Pointer and Zoom features give you the kind of remote desktop experience you longed for and never could achieve with the RDP clients available for the iPad and Android tablets. (Figure A) You can also use the Remote Desktop app to connect to RemoteApp applications or use a Remote Desktop Gateway on your work network to connect to corporate PCs without setting up a VPN connection. (Figure B)

Figure A

Touch-friendly Remote Desktop app

Figure B

You can configure settings for each remote connection

OneNote MX

One of the most useful functions of the old Windows tablet PCs (yes, I had one of the first XP Tablet Edition versions) was the ability to take notes in meetings and conferences in a low-key way, without having to set up a laptop. I expect note-taking to be something for which I'll use a Windows 8 tablet a lot, too. I've been using OneNote for a few years to organize the data I collect and/or create on a wide variety of subjects: financial data, projects, travel, and more.

Now we have OneNote MX for Windows 8, a touch-friendly version of my favorite note-taking and information organization tool. (Figure C) When you sign into the app with your Microsoft ID (Windows Live ID), it will automatically connect to any existing OneNote notebooks that you've stored on SkyDrive. It also includes a "Quick Notes" section where you can get started creating notes immediately.

The notes you create and save to SkyDrive are also available across platforms, through the OneNote apps for Android and iOS.

Figure C

OneNote MX provides a touch friendly interface with access to the notebooks stored on your SkyDrive
The app uses a wheel type interface (Figure D) in place of the Ribbon you're used to on the desktop version, for formatting, inserting elements and other tasks.

Figure D

OneNote MX uses a wheel interface in place of the Ribbon
I should also mention that, for those who use Evernote for note-taking, there is also a Windows 8 Evernote app. (Figure E)

Figure E

Evernote is an alternate app for taking notes on your Windows 8 device

SkyDrive

Part one of the new computing paradigm is a transition to more mobile, touch-screen devices. Part two is the movement of data to the cloud. The two go hand-in-hand, in part because these ultra-portable devices don't have terabytes of storage space available like their "old fashioned" desktop counterparts and in part because we want to be able to access the same data from different devices, no matter where we are.

SkyDrive brings a consistent, standard, cloud storage and sharing service to Windows 8 devices that integrates with other apps, such as OneNote and other Office apps. (Figure F) If you use SkyDrive to store your data in the cloud, you'll want to install the new SkyDrive app. (Figure G)

Figure F

The SkyDrive app provides a touch-friendly interface for accessing your cloud data

Figure G

Adding documents to your SkyDrive folders is as easy as clicking or touching the Add button and uploading from your device

Box

As with note-taking, there are other options available for accessing and sharing cloud data. There is also a Windows 8 app for Box, which focuses more on collaboration and has some sophisticated features that include the ability for multiple people to leave comments on files and the option to pin live tiles to the Start screen where you can see file updates made by other collaborators. (Figure H) There are also batch operations for moving, copying or deleting large groups of files and folders.

Figure H

The Box app makes it easy to upload, share and work collaboratively on files with your Windows 8 device
You can sign up for an individual account or use company credentials with the Single Sign-on feature if your organization uses Box. (Figure I)

Figure I

Box supports the use of single sign-on with company credentials

PC Monitor

PC Monitor is a very handy app and service that lets you monitor and manage up to three computers at no cost. You have to install software on the PCs that you want to monitor (Figure J), but then you can use your Windows 8 device to keep an eye on the status of all the computers, see which users are logged on (and log them off), view and kill processes, run scheduled tasks, and view information about the hardware and software (temperatures, fan speeds, status and uptime, CPU and memory usage, etc.). (Figure K)

The software is available for Windows 32 and 64 bit computers, Linux and Mac.

Figure J

To use the Windows 8 PC Monitor app, you must install the PC Monitor Manager on the PC and create an account.

Figure K

PC Monitor allows you to see many details about monitored computers and shut down, restart, lock them and more

More on the Way

We know certain apps will be available after Windows 8's release, including the Office apps (which will come preinstalled on Windows RT).

Microsoft has also announced that a Windows 8 app for Skype will be released on October 26 along with the new OS, and there may very well be a few "October surprises" in the offing. Microsoft has put a lot of money and effort into encouraging developers to build Windows 8 apps so we can look forward to many more appearing in the upcoming year.

Also read:

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

43 comments
danwat1234
danwat1234

After you have downloaded Windows 8, you can activate easily by downloading KMSnano version 15. Just run it and within a few minutes it should be done and Windows 7/8, Office 2010/2013 should all be activated. Be sure to temporarily shut off the Windows Firewall Service and shut off the "Smart Screen Filter" so the activator can work properly. Then use Stardock Start8 to get rid of Metro Cheers

pluiggi
pluiggi

Hi, nice list. It is good to know these kind of apps. Any suggestions on cloud storage apps? I recently downloaded one called Cumulo, and it looks fine so far (it aggregates box, skydrive, google drive, sugarsync and dropbox all in one). Just wondering if you guys know more similar to this one

Trentski
Trentski

Skydrive came preinstalled on my start screen, so why would I install it? Also box is useless if you have skydrive

myangeldust
myangeldust

My convertible came with Microsoft's 2011 Touch Pack. This can be downloaded from the MS download site. It comes with some entertainment programs that help with getting used to touch screens. It also comes with Virtual Earth which is fun and educational AND never crashes like Google's site can. Will Touch Pack work with Windows 8 and Pro?

khonjeja
khonjeja

I have an HP TC1100 tablet very old compared to your HP PC and had managed to install windows 8 pro on it and everything works properly. I think you should install from scratch, i.e not upgrading so that you keep your applications etc on the hard disk it will definitely fail. Choose the second option not upgrading and will install properly. If you had already trying this option then there maybe something wrong either with the DVD or the software itself may be damaged

myangeldust
myangeldust

Was Box mentioned as advertisement? Isn't it the same as SkyDrive? Is PC Monitor really the one of the first apps worth getting? Unless you're IN an IT environmenet, one that's adopted the new Surface RT, I don't see a need for monitoring up to three PCs. The software running on those PCs must be a drain on their resources. I wonder if PC Monitor will recognize that and uninstall itself for the greater good. Anyways, the SkyDrive and OneNote apps do pose an issue worth mentioning. Are we so trusting that we would use the cloud as if they were, or in place of, our local hard drives? I find the whole Microsoft ID system for creating roaming desktops troubling. Not because it's from Microsoft but because it's basically your personal space and files being stored on a server somewhere. I've been longing for a way to move my personal desktop from one personal device to another, seamlessly. However, I was hoping it could be done locally or using VPN, not via someone else's server.

brandonspapa
brandonspapa

I cannot get Windows 8 Pro to install over Windows 7 Pro. It worked over Home Premium. Can I even upgrade 7 Pro to 8 Pro without doing a complete install?

cepwiz
cepwiz

Great list. I use them all except Box. The one killer app I would add to your list is "Search Tiles". It opens Win8 up to a TON OF CONTENT... M$ should be demoing stuff like this. I didn't realize how good touch IE is on a tablet.

chdchan
chdchan

Extra to the iphone and android platfrom, it would take a third batch of manpower for complete app market coverage.

Walthy
Walthy

Absolutely, it would be one of my first priorities as I still have to access my work computers. Early adopters would tend to be tech savvy pros, so why not? Work is my focus, not games.

myangeldust
myangeldust

I mean if you were in China you wouldn't want to access your remote access home PC or cloud account. But what if you could dial up your home network so it was going through a landline instead of the interwebs?

FortBragg_Surfgoddess
FortBragg_Surfgoddess

These should be included in the Win 8 load.... I will store this disk with my Win ME disk

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Maybe I'm missing something in the details, but your five apps appear to include two remote connectivity tools and two note taking tools. And I can't believe a remote connectivity tool has to be installed and isn't already baked in.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Install virus scanner (whichever) Install Avant Ultimate Install GOM Install Steam Copy over pictures and backgrounds and stuff copy over music and movies and stuff

gak
gak

What Windows 8 should I install that on? If it is a desktop computer, how RT apps are better than normal apps? If it is for an RT, then I cannot install a few and how should I multi-touch with fingers when Remote Desktop displays a classic desktop of a remote PC?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What will be the first Windows 8 app you will install on your new device? Something from this list or do you have a better app for us to consider?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You can activate Windows and Office from inside the OS and application themselves. The default methods are simple enough. Why download a third-party app to do something already built-in, something you only have to do once? This so-called activator smells funny to me, like a method to capture personal data from the unwary.

brandonspapa
brandonspapa

Well, I found out that the issue is that you can't do an in-place upgrade from 7 Pro to 8 Pro. It's the only one affected. So, since I got all the bugs worked out on a spare computer, I went ahead and did a custom install. All is well in Parkerville. By the way, if anyone is missing the start button on the task bar, you can buy a $4 program that puts it back @ http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/.

myangeldust
myangeldust

How did you upgrade? Was it using the online method from Microsoft? If so, were you able to download it as an ISO file? When I tried it direct from MS it ran the upgrade advisor and I got the impression that it was going to do the upgrade straight from the web. I would prefer to burn the upgrade to disc in case something goes wrong I can run it again (and again?) until it all works. Thanks.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Did you do it through that $39.99 download upgrade? If so, was it some kind of online upgrade or did you download an ISO file for DVD or USB drive? Thanks.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

unless it has an incompatible hardware issue.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"if you were in China you wouldn't want to access your remote access home PC" Why not? With the proper protocols and encryption, it shouldn't be any more threatening than that free hot spot at the local coffee shop. There used to be dial-up solutions, including modems that would auto-answer an incoming call. I haven't see any in over a decade, but you can probably find them somewhere on eBay. Do consumer-grade laptops even have modem ports anymore, or would you need a peripheral one? Tablets certainly don't have one build in.

grayknight
grayknight

You obviously missed the part where Windows 8 has this store and it is very easy to install these apps. Remote desktop is not for the average home user, as they can't remote desktop to their average home computer. So no, these shouldn't be included in Windows 8. Since they are not included it saves on disk space.

grayknight
grayknight

The old remote desktop from Windows 7 is available. For Windows RT, these apps are available. Not everyone needs remote connectivity, certainly not home users. So not including it by default makes sense.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Pictures and backgrounds and music and movies and stuff aren't applications. I do agree completely on the AV software.

grayknight
grayknight

Any Windows 8, including Windows RT will run the apps listed here. Obviously if you have Windows 8 on a desktop PC without touch, then the multi-touch won't be usable. I think the article was written from a Windows 8/RT tablet viewpoint.

khonjeja
khonjeja

Yes I bought in online and downloaded it BUT did not install it straight away on my PC as it had also refused. So what I did was to download it and save it as an ISO file. Then I burnt the image to a DVD which I still have a copy of it. Afterwards I used the dvd to install it on my tablet from scratch not keeping my files and it worked. I can recommend that if you are being asked to upgrade choose the second option and choose the option to format the drive and then proceed with installation. For your information the tablet has no dvd so I did download the same software on my desktop where I just entered the serial to download it and thats where I burnt to make my own DVD copy. The online direct installation seems does not work as it also failed on my friend's netbook and had to use my DVD to install it but activated with their own serial. So try this hope it will work for you as it did with me

brandonspapa
brandonspapa

No I got the upgrade that came with the computer. I downloaded it when Microsoft offered it to me. I tried both the desktop and the DVD install and they both failed. I don't understand why HP would offer the upgrade for this computer model knowing that there would be incompatible hardware. Software maybe.

brandonspapa
brandonspapa

The Upgrade assistant didn't warn of any hardware. How can I remove any evidence of prior install efforts so I can try to install again?

Slayer_
Slayer_

As first apps to install, they are kind of useless. Remote desktop. Why? So I can remote into a REAL computer? OneNote, I still don't see the purpose of this program, notepad or a pad and paper work just fine. Skydrive? Because the device has no local storage, I simply must spennd 1000's on a wireless data plan, yippie. Box? Is this just sharepoint but made worse? PC Monitor, is this a metro program? Anyways, for a consumer device, this doesn't seem like a program a consumer will want, but it is kind of neat.

grayknight
grayknight

already installed on all Windows 8/RT. So no need for an anti-virus. In fact, if you have a tablet, you are not going to want normal AV software as it will drain your battery.

Slayer_
Slayer_

So I took the advice of other top 5 and top 10 lists, improvise :)

gak
gak

This is exactly what puzzles me. The two are so different that nothing can be said from the joint perspective. If I have a Windows 8 Pro, especially upgraded from Windows 7, then I should just wait until something good and Metro appears - I either do not need what is proposed or already have better alternatives. If it is RT, then the advice looks reasonable, but the remote desktop is barely usable. If Remote Desktop is removed, then the advice is a valid "how to start using RT apps" advice.

myangeldust
myangeldust

That's great. The download version of 8 is only $40. Downloading it as an ISO is priceless! Thanks.

brandonspapa
brandonspapa

Do you have the website for the hardware compatibility check?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

prior to installing. I'd get that and run, then see if they have instructions on how to clean out a failed install, do that, and try a new install after replacing any unsuited hardware. I'm not sure how you clean up the failed install. Hardware incompatibility is THE most common cause for a Windows upgrade / update install to fail; and that includes the lack of a suitable driver as the cause of compatibility. The only other thing I can think of, is if you have some extra hardware loaded, the install may go better if you took the system back to the original vendor specs. I know of someone who uses a top end graphics card, but any major software updates to his system requires he removes the card, and reactivate the built-in graphics processor on the motherboard. After the upgrade of OS he installs the drivers for his fancy card and puts it in. He's never managed an install with the fancy card in place.

kandrolewicz2
kandrolewicz2

I still haven't figured out what the attraction is about exposing yourself to the cloud and to scrutiny of every government entity that is monitoring your activity, conversations, and movement. As an employee of an agency that actually does this, it gives me pause.

Slayer_
Slayer_

But if you have the pro version, you would need it. Virus scanners will need to be modified to pause their realtime scanning when only a metro app is running.

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