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Windows Store versus the world: How do Microsoft's offerings really stack up?

Brad Chacos | Feb. 28, 2013
Whenever talk turns to the comparatively low number of apps available in the Windows Store, commenters invariably take the article to task. "Quantity isn't as important as quality!" they type, frequently tossing in an ALL CAPS EXPLETIVE or three. "Who wants 100,000 fart apps anyway?"

Social apps

If you want to get social, you won't be doing it with any apps you find in the Windows Store--precisely because you won't find any major social media apps in the Windows Store. That's not hyperbole, either. None of the largest social networks--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google+--maintain a presence in Microsoft's app marketplace. Not one. Even less-populated networks like Path and Foursquare have thus far avoided the land of Live Tiles as if it had the plague. (StumbleUpon's there, though.)

Third-party solutions have popped up in the absence of the official players, but most of them are ho-hum at best, aside from a few notable standouts such as Tweetro, Fliptoast, and Reddit to Go! And even then, the most popular alternative social media clients--such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, and Falcon Pro--are no-shows in the Windows Store.

Windows 8's People app includes some simplistic social media functionality, though it's incredibly inferior to native apps. While Twitter has said it's working on a modern-style Windows app, the sheer desolation of the Windows Store's Social section is nothing short of appalling. You can troll social networks in IE 10 but that's not the same.

'Other'

Stuff it, naysayers: The Windows Store's thin app quantity begins to hurt badly when you examine all the 'other' apps--the side dishes that add so much personality and usefulness to an ecosystem.

First and foremost, the absence of Google Maps and the general Google experience--there's no YouTube, no Gmail, no Google+, no Google Drive--is a major blow for the Windows Store. The same goes for productivity apps. The desktop version of Office that's available for Windows 8 (and baked into Windows RT) has basic touch functionality, but it's clunky compared to the finger-focused design found in productivity apps available for iOS and Android. Worse, several big-name productivity app developers have told me that the threat of Office has cooled them to the prospect of porting their products to the Windows Store.

Compared to Android and iOS, the Windows Store lacks a deep selection of image-editing apps. The Windows Store doesn't have official apps from the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL. There are some travel-friendly apps, but not many--a condition mirrored by the business app selection. (NitroDesk's Touchdown app finally made it to the Windows Store, at least.) You won't find any tethering apps whatsoever.

On the other hand, the Windows Store stocks a wide variety of apps by major media outlets, and its Food section isn't too shabby, either (Cocktail Flow, FTW!). A few big-name retailers have also carved out a niche in the Shopping section. There are also a handful of individual gems sprinkled around Microsoft's virtual market. I've already detailed 17 of the best Windows 8 apps you can download today, and that list doesn't even include solid apps from ESPN, Endomondo, Dropbox, and more.

 

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