Light, fast, and shiny, many Web apps have the futuristic feel of a bullet train. They also have numerous advantages over desktop apps: There's nothing to install, they don't take up any hard drive space or RAM, they're quick and easy to access, and you don't ever have to worry about using an outdated version. But Web apps ride on the rickety rails of a browser, and that means that every Web app you run has all your browser's problems with incompatibility, instability, and resource-hogging.
Best known for its slick way of slipping the Start Menu into Windows 8, innovative app platform Pokki (pronounced "poke-key") brings Web and mobile apps--including some which are exact replicas of websites--right to the desktop of any Windows PC running XP on up. There are hundreds of Pokki apps to choose from, but you have to get started somewhere. These five essential Pokki apps will fulfill all your basic Web needs without ever touching your browser.
The Web is all about communication. Gmail Lite is an incredibly lightweight Gmail client that takes email out of your browser and brings it, with a twist, to your desktop. The best part of having Gmail on your desktop is the real-time notifications; these come in pop-up banners as well as little tray badges, and ensure no email goes unnoticed. Gmail Lite sits in your Windows tray, and with one click, gives you access to all your emails, including labels, starred and sent emails. You can easily perform various Gmail actions such as assigning labels, starring and unstarring, archiving, and, of course, reading and writing emails.
Gmail Lite is almost perfect, but it is missing several crucial features: You cannot attach files; there is no in-email spellchecking; you cannot choose which email address to send from in case you own several, and (the most painful) the search feature doesn't work. Nevertheless, Gmail Lite is an excellent client for most Gmail features, and its multiple-user support really seals the deal.
Email is important, but you can't stay connected without reading the news. Pokki has you covered in this area as well, with its very own desktop version of Pulse. Pulse for Pokki is a mirror image of the Web app, with one significant difference: There's no need to launch your browser. Once you sign in with your Pulse account, the app will immediately sync your sources and feeds. If you don't have an account yet, you can easily create one from within the app or log in using Facebook.
To start, add some favorite sources using the "Add Content" button. These can be easily divided into categories of your choosing or added to one big collection. When viewing your feeds, you get to choose from three different layout options, all containing both titles and images in different sizes. Unlike Pulse for mobile, Pulse for Pokki shows one source at a time, letting you switch sources using the left menu. While reading an article, you can share it on Facebook or Twitter, play with different font sizes and styles, and choose between a light or dark theme.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.