Windows 8 Consumer Preview in Review: The Apps

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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The app store for the moment is lacking and doesn’t contain much but with a Visual Studio Beta program and knowledge of a combo of either Java and Html or C# and XAML, you can easily write apps for the program. But for now, let’s explore what we have!

By clicking on the top right corner, you can get updates for installed apps when available. Installation of apps is easy, it’s literally a one-click install process.

Windows comes with some apps pre-installed. Let’s take a look at them.

Internet Explorer 10

Yes, you could always make a browser go full screen with F11 but never has a browser been built from the bottom up for full screen capabilities. Limited in its nature, Internet Explorer 10’s Metro component is clean, sleek and slim hiding all controls behind a right click dialogue and immersing you directly into your webpage.

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Part of a suite with Calendar, People and Mail, Messaging may very well be the new Windows Live Messenger – at least in terms of Metro apps, but we will see what happens to the Windows Live Suite with a bulk of its components being available as a suite in the app store for metro.

The app allows you to chat with anyone on Windows Live (MSN), Facebook, or whatever network you use  that can be connected to your Windows Live ID. It is simple but gets the job done and using the new snap mechanism, it really gains its purpose and its ability to integrate with the experience.

While it is handy, it is a pain in terms of connecting and keeping you online and it is lacking on previous features like video chat and picture sharing.

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Using Mail you can see and send all of your mail in one place but you cannot delete mail and you cannot use that nifty mark as spam feature – at least not yet, It too was optimized for snap allowing you to easily browse, read and send mail in a confined space.

At the moment, you can only configure it with Gmail, Hotmail and Exchange accounts and there are no options to set a custom proxy.

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The calendar does what you would expect it to do – see and manage upcoming events and chores.

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The People app is interesting. It will allow you to contact any of your contacts with any means, see and interact with your Facebook feed and interact with your profile but it won’t let you post statuses to Facebook or Windows Live – or maybe I’m just blind.

It will stream your Facebook notifications via the live tile on your start screen or next to the Me link on the top of the app.

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Need directions or want to look up a place? Here’s your app but it can’t print directions and its locator is a bit off.



This app will be the default player of all videos in Windows 8 and will also be the one-stop shop for video rentals and purchases – provided that you are in a country that is supported. If you leave this app, the video will mute as it plays on.



Music is a basic app for purchasing and listening to Music – provided you’re in a supported region. It will allow you to create a now playing playlist but not save it and will sort your music by album, artist or name in an elegant fashion.

When setting up, add your music to the My Music folder on your computer and then restart the program.


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Xbox Live Games

Xbox Live games and Xbox Companion are linked to the Xbox and allow you to add games to ands stream media to your Xbox. It also allows you to manage your Xbox Live account via your computer provided you’re in a supported location. It includes two marketplaces – one for PC and another for Xbox and will let you monitor games that are in your collection. I wonder if Microsoft will eventually ditch the Xbox/Windows differences and merge the platform.


Speaking of Games, Windows comes preinstalled with Solitaire and PinballFx which are both noted as Xbox Live apps.



Need to take a picture of something with a built in tablet camera or a webcam? Or do you need a video? In essence, this is the purpose of this app.


Anyone that has and uses a Windows Live ID or what is now called a Microsoft Account gets free access to online storage – 20 GB worth. This storage center is called the SkyDrive and until now the only way you could access and play with it was through your browser. Now, there’s an app for that which will be useful for easy access to files and makes transferring files to the cloud that much easier too.


Manage and monitor your stocks


Microsoft has created a full screen reader for PDF and XPS files. It is great but limited. You cannot skip to specific points in large documents, not can you have multiple open at once – but it is a huge step forward. Another flaw is that printing won’t work in this app – despite its presence but I would suspect this will all change come RTM.

You can easily group and name apps in the start screen by clicking on the magnifying glass at the bottom right corner of the screen. At the same time, you can move entire groups around in this manner.


Next up comes new features and settings.

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