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11 winning alternatives to Windows 8's built-in apps

Alex Cocilova | Nov. 7, 2012
Windows 8 comes preloaded with plenty of apps for basic productivity and entertainment, but they're not necessarily the best you can do. We've already mentioned the apps you should download first, but now we want to share some third-party apps that you might like more than what Microsoft includes in its basic Windows 8 installation.

But if you're looking for an inclusive music player that doesn't try to sell you music (and you're not a fan of iTunes), MusicBee is a powerful, free program for any music lover. Unfortunately, there's no new Windows Store app for it yet, but the program can be installed just like any other Windows program (assuming you don't have a Windows RT device, of course!). MusicBee sports nifty tools for song tagging, and finding local shows and upcoming music releases. There's also a minimized music player, and various themes and skins.

If you are a fan of streaming music, check out Spotify (for those who know what they want to listen to), Pandora (for those who want to discover new music), and TuneIn Radio (for those who love listening to live radio).

Weather

If you have to ask yourself, "Sunglasses or an umbrella?" before you leave the house in the morning, Microsoft's weather app is a great way to find the answer quickly and accuratelywell, at least as accurately as weather prediction can get.

However, if you want an even more in-depth look at the weather, look no further than AccuWeather's free weather app. It supports streaming data via Live Tile updates; shows predicted weather patterns ranging from 24 hours to 15 days; and provides weather timelines at your saved locations. It's updated every 15 minutes to display the most accurate weather data, and it also provides full-screen Bing maps with radar information overlaid. But probably the coolest feature is the Lifestyle Forecasts, which provide star ratings for every hour of the day based on how the weather will affect certain outdoor activities and health risks.

News

The News app provides all the top stories straight from Bing for different categories such as U.S. news, world news, business, entertainment, sports, technology, and politics. It provides a decent overview of the most popular stories of the day, but doesn't impart any sense of true comprehensiveness.

If you're looking for a worthy alternative, consider the USA Today app, which just received a major visual overhaul that's well organized and pleasing to the eye. It breaks down categories for news, sports, life, money, tech, and travel, and has options for each section that let you browse pictures, videos, and other content. It's easy to navigate with the Windows-esque tiling, and every story comes with a captivating picture. It even uses your location to update you on your current local weather conditions.

Travel

The Travel app highlights some of the premier destinations across the globe with pictures, panoramic views, magazine articles, and location information. You can read up on your favorite vacation destinations, or even use the in-app Flights feature to look for plane tickets. It's full of recommendations for attractions, restaurants, and hotels, as well as guides on what to do once you've reached a new worldly destination.

 

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