5 Windows Store apps you should download now

With the launch of Windows 8.1 and the Surface 2, we know there are plenty of folks who are, for the first time, getting their hands on the new Start Screen that Windows 8.1 brings to the table.  Like many of us, the first thing we typically want to do is to fill all the open real estate with apps from the Windows Store.

With the store having over 100,000 applications, finding the right apps can be a difficult chore. So, we here at Neowin have picked out 5 apps that will help you get started with finding quality apps in the Windows Store.

Most of the apps listed below are free and all of them cost less than $3.00. If you have any ‘must have apps’ make sure to let us know in the comments below so we can include them on our next list.

1. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is not a typical app most folks think about when heading into the Windows Store but the app is well composed and is a great way to find some content for pleasure reading.

With large, beautiful pictures, plenty of feature articles, this app will keep you busy for a long time and like all of the other apps on our list, it’s free.

The app offers up tons of content and can keep you entertained for hours. With your favorite articles only a few clicks away, Wikipedia is great for killing time and works exceptionally well on the Surface 2.

2. Nextgen Reader

If you are looking to stay on-top of the news and don’t want to be jumping through several apps, Nextgen Reader is a great way to aggregate all your favorite feeds into one place.

Nexgen Reader is an app for Windows 8 or 8.1 and it’s a must have for anyone that needs an RSS reader. With light and dark themes and an easy to use layout, Nextgen Reader hits the mark for all the key ingredients to an awesome app.

The app does cost $2.99 (but there is an unlimited free trial, so if you don't want too, you don't have to pay for it) and it is well worth the price.

3. Fresh Paint

Feeling a bit creative and want to show off your personal style but don’t want to get out the watercolors? Fresh Paint is fun app that lets your creative side run free with tons of paint options, stencils, and patterns to choose from, it’s a great app that will keep you painting for hours but requires no cleanup afterwards.

We do admit that this app is much more fun with a touchscreen but it does work using a mouse too. Kids will certainly love this app and we will secretly admit that we love it too.

Freshpaint is not a new app to the Windows Store but it has been updated a couple times and if you are new to the Windows Store marketplace, it is a fantastic app to express in your inner Picasso.

4. Cocktail Flow

Once you are able to pry your kids away from Fresh Paint head to the Windows Store and download Cocktail Flow. This easy to use, and well-designed app, makes mixing your favorite drink a snap.

This app makes for a great bar top companion. If you, or your guests, are looking to trying something new, Cocktail Flow makes it easy to sort different drinks by their ingredients so you can find something you’ll enjoy.

With options to sort drinks by the alcohol by color, type, and a few other options, pouring your favorite drink just got a lot easier. While you’re at it, pour us a drink too, we both deserve it.

5. NASA Be A Martian

Space travel is exciting, dangerous and is also educational. This app, developed by NASA, lets you stay updated on Curiosity’s journey on Mars, follow other NASA missions and a bunch of other cool explorative features that will enrich your life in a way that is entertaining and easy to use.

This app is great for all ages and top notch for any Space lovers who enjoy staring at the heavens. Kids will enjoy the pictures, adults will love the content and it’s educational, so everyone wins.

These are 5 apps that are a great starter pack for anyone new to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.


We will continue to compile lists to help you find the best content within the Windows Store, so make sure to let us know if you have any favorites we should include in our next list.

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I think that if they had allowed Windows 8 apps to run in a window then their development and adoption would be much greater by now.

mrp04 said,
I think that if they had allowed Windows 8 apps to run in a window then their development and adoption would be much greater by now.

Maybe ... Maybe not. It seems that way because that's what we're used to. But snap view has no borders and if the app is done properly, the snap view actually scales it's UI for the limited view, something a normal windowed app doesn't do and without constraints would be difficult for even Windowed modern UI apps to do well.

Of course I run dual 27" monitors but even when I'm working on one and watching a movie or TV in the other, I seem to do fine with 1/4 dedicated to email and desktop apps in 3/4.

It would be nice to share between Modern and Desktop apps though.

MorganX said,

Maybe ... Maybe not. It seems that way because that's what we're used to. But snap view has no borders and if the app is done properly, the snap view actually scales it's UI for the limited view, something a normal windowed app doesn't do and without constraints would be difficult for even Windowed modern UI apps to do well.

Of course I run dual 27" monitors but even when I'm working on one and watching a movie or TV in the other, I seem to do fine with 1/4 dedicated to email and desktop apps in 3/4.

It would be nice to share between Modern and Desktop apps though.

I have a 30" and a 27" monitor and I still barely use Modern apps because I don't like how they feel on large monitors. Even in 8.1 where you can set whatever split you want. I especially don't like splitting my desktop because it resizes and moves my windows around. And they just don't need my full vertical resolution often. And running them in a window will allow me to see notifications on my desktop which are obscured when running a modern app. Have you tried out ModernMix? The modern apps actually work VERY well in windowed mode.

I installed ModernMix a week or so back and I actually really like being able to run Modern apps in a window. I'm using the weather and stocks app more then I used to. There's just not many other apps to use though. Without ModernMix. given the choice between two similar desktop or modern apps I will use the desktop one. With modernmix I will just use whatever one is best.

I'd like to use the Skype Modern app over the desktop one because the desktop one is just ****, but ModernMix isn't perfect and there's no good way to see notification count on Skype if I was away from my computer and came back without either looking at the app or opening my start screen. Modern apps don't get taskbar or notification tray entries so I can't see notifications there. ModernMix puts an item on the taskbar for modern apps but they don't know about it and can't use it for notifications or progress bars like desktop apps can.

I don't care for windowed mode much on my convertible table since the screen is small, but on my desktop I'd make much more use out of modern apps if they could run windowed. Even on my convertible tablet I might use windowed mode if it was native. Don't need it on a pure tablet, but Windows 8 isn't meant only for pure tablets.

Fair enough. But they are getting better. Just for kicks try the Mail App snapped (this is one of the best app designs for snap view IMO), the official facebook (if you facebook), and Microsoft's Modern Remote Desktop and Lync. All great and designed to for snap. There's great potential but it takes deliberate effort to snap well. Not sure how many are investing that much time in WinRT right now.

mrp04 said,
I think that if they had allowed Windows 8 apps to run in a window then their development and adoption would be much greater by now.
I believe that is the next logical step to appease desktop users. I see nothing wrong with that being an option.

MorganX said,
Fair enough. But they are getting better. Just for kicks try the Mail App snapped (this is one of the best app designs for snap view IMO), the official facebook (if you facebook), and Microsoft's Modern Remote Desktop and Lync. All great and designed to for snap. There's great potential but it takes deliberate effort to snap well. Not sure how many are investing that much time in WinRT right now.
Snap is great and all. But for power usage at the desktop with precision input it really just seems to be slowing down productivity. Making it an option would be fantastic.

Snap is optional in as much as you don't have to do it. One of the more productive features is snapping a linked app, i.e. clicking a hyperlink in the mail app snaps IE to open it. This could be used in applications in lieu of dialogs. Think of how much space is wasted in Photoshop with pallets, this could be a snap view at 1/4 screen. You still lose that space on the canvas but the potential is there for the pallets to be much richer.

Drag & drop is an issue but is used less and less, if at all, in the desktop environment. 8.1 lets desktop and Modern co-exist much better IMO. The Modern UI needs time to evolve just like the Windows desktop Environment did. I think it has a lot of potential.

Take note of how much workspace you loose to window borders, title bars and menu bars. Also note even with multiple Windows open, how many are actually side by side and you're active in them simultaneously (or virtually)? How much time is spent arranging Windows, keeping the pertinent parts visible or reachable during productive time. Also, when a window isn't full screen, how much of the app functionality or content do you lose until you bring it to the foreground and/or resize it?

MorganX said,
Fair enough. But they are getting better. Just for kicks try the Mail App snapped (this is one of the best app designs for snap view IMO), the official facebook (if you facebook), and Microsoft's Modern Remote Desktop and Lync. All great and designed to for snap. There's great potential but it takes deliberate effort to snap well. Not sure how many are investing that much time in WinRT right now.

I have tried snap and it works great on my small screen computers, but I just don't like running most modern apps in full screen on my large desktop monitors. Just doesn't make sense. I just don't like how if I snap something my desktop gets resized along with all my open windows. Then if I want to snap a desktop app instead I have to close or hide the modern one and then snap the desktop one. It's just a mess.

Wikipedia and Fresh paint are probably good but the others are so random and a bit pointless. Title makes it sound like they are really worth having.

Julius Caro said,
the cocktail one invalidates the whole list. or even the entire platform if this is considered among the best, lol

It just says you should download them! It doesn't say they are the best. And they are very well done apps.

incendy said,

It just says you should download them! It doesn't say they are the best. And they are very well done apps.

He has point. For example Steam Store has Call of Duty, Windows Store has Cocktail Flow, just lol.

lmaobox said,

He has point. For example Steam Store has Call of Duty, Windows Store has Cocktail Flow, just lol.

Then use Steam Store. It isn't like they took it away. Both stores have their pluses and minuses.

lmaobox said,
He has point. For example Steam Store has Call of Duty, Windows Store has Cocktail Flow, just lol.

Yeah, because Call of Duty is an example of great software /s

incendy said,
All 5 are fun and useful on the desktop, to me.

I can't imagine somebody building $2000 desktop PC so they can run NASA's 'Be A Martian'.

lmaobox said,

I can't imagine somebody building $2000 desktop PC so they can run NASA's 'Be A Martian'.

No stranger than to watch people use Facebook and things like Farmville all day long.

I Personally don't mind Metro UI Apps on a Desktop with Keyboard and Mouse, Apps I use are Mail App, Bing News, Bing Weather, Health and Fitness, Xbox music, xbox video, Tetris Game, Deal or No Deal, Checkers, and bunch of others.


50 Percent in Metro UI, and 50 Percent using Desktop apps, or have Metro ui app snapped and Also using Desktop application at same time

I downloaded Nextgen reader as trial when it came out ~1 year ago. I never even got an ad or anything and it still runs without problem, and it's trial. The only downside of it is that only one user can install it on one computer.

Question: does the store offer traditional apps that are designed to run in the desktop envioronment, and if so how do you identify them from the plethora of modern UI apps?

Mr_Self_Destruct said,
Question: does the store offer traditional apps that are designed to run in the desktop envioronment, and if so how do you identify them from the plethora of modern UI apps?

Only on x86 based machines, you can identify them as the state Desktop app where the price/installed text is ;-)

neo158 said,

Only on x86 based machines, you can identify them as the state Desktop app where the price/installed text is ;-)

Thanks, I suppose it would be nice to have the option to view "apps for desktop" as a store option.

Mr_Self_Destruct said,

Thanks, I suppose it would be nice to have the option to view "apps for desktop" as a store option.

Simple, add the term 'desktop' when doing a search, it will then give you all the desktop applications.

deadonthefloor said,

But I shouldn't have to scope my search to return MORE results.

You only need to search if you want to see ALL desktop applications instead of the ones in the specific category you're looking at

1- If i wanna something from wikipedia i go to http://www.wikipedia.org
2- RSS reader for only 3$! Free alternatives and better for sure
3- Paint.NET
4- ...
5- The same as wikipedia

I mean, why i would use the Store in a PC? I dont need it

Installation is way easier than using setup programs etc. Same with uninstalling.
Personally I like the Store. Twitter, Facebook and NetFlix are now one click away for me.

1) Do you get notifications in desktop apps ?
2) Do you get one click download+install without worrying that a load of spyware/crapware has been installed without you knowing ?
3) Give me one desktop application from the past year that is as nicely designed as Cocktail Flow.

At first I was sceptic about Facebook modern app when I could just easily use the browser. But then I saw how it fits with notifications and updates on Tiles and it saved me a lot of time, getting notifications instantly. This is when I realised the true power of Windows 8 modern apps.

C#Rocks said,
1) Do you get notifications in desktop apps ?
2) Do you get one click download+install without worrying that a load of spyware/crapware has been installed without you knowing ?
3) Give me one desktop application from the past year that is as nicely designed as Cocktail Flow.

At first I was sceptic about Facebook modern app when I could just easily use the browser. But then I saw how it fits with notifications and updates on Tiles and it saved me a lot of time, getting notifications instantly. This is when I realised the true power of Windows 8 modern apps.

1)You know that tray icons have their own notifications?
2)If you are smart enough ofc
3)Nicely designed Cocktail? I hope you are kidding me, its just good like others, but GOOD designed...

metroTwit is copying the metro UI language. But still.. how are you going to tell if it's GDI+ or WPF based ?

EDIT: "Taking advantage of the latest Microsoft .NET and Windows Presentation Foundation frameworks, MetroTwit is a first-class application that shines on Windows." There goes my answer. WPF rocks!!!!

1) Tray icon notifications vs. Windows 8 notifications is like DOS vs. win32.
2) if you are smart enough you can reach Africa by foot instead of by plane.
3) I can mention another app that got me impressed by its UI - Great British Chefs. I challenge you again. Give me one desktop app not .NET based, not XAML based that comes close UI wise.
I am making an emphasis on UI since that is the only thing a certain category of people seem to be critical about. (and WPF and XAML/HTML5 is all about UI).

People need to realise that Windows 8 is a dual OS, catering to both touch and non-touch devices, both tablets and desktops/laptops (the optimal device for such an OS is a hybrid) and the Store is mostly to cater to the touch enabled devices. If you are on a non-touch device, obviously those are excellent choices but this article is mostly for those who use touch devices or prefer the Modern UI apps because of their looks (I, for one, certainly find some of them very attractive).

the snapshot you're showing is from Windows 8, not 8.1. Glad there were great improvements in 8.1. Still it's not like people spend 99% of their time in the control panel in Windows Desktop!

wasd- said,
1- If i wanna something from wikipedia i go to http://www.wikipedia.org
2- RSS reader for only 3$! Free alternatives and better for sure
3- Paint.NET
4- ...
5- The same as wikipedia

I mean, why i would use the Store in a PC? I dont need it

Outside of the Wikipedia App (which integrates nicely with the new Smart Search), if you are 'going' to http://www.wikipedia.com you are wasting your time.

It is far easier to use your integrated search like Bing/Google and type:
corvettes wiki

...than it is to go to the Wikipedia website and then run the search from there. Especially since the Wikipedia search engine isn't as 'smart' as Bing or Google for 'relevance'.

This is true of any site with information, like IMDB, etc.:
avengers imdb

...will get you to the movie faster than going to IMDB first and searching the site using their search tools.

The reason this works better should be obvious on many levels, but the most important is you are getting a better search experience/technology that you are used to when it is powered by the Internet search engine you are familiar.

C#Rocks said,
.....

Exactly.
With XAML in all its runtime environments, MS keep swinging for the fences for the paradigm shift.

Each iteration is easier than the one before, unfortunately decision makers in organizations know COM+ and base their decisions thusly.

using store search bar I always get this message
"we weren't able connect to the store"

using charm bar search feature everything works

Your link to open the Store from a hyper link is messed up. Make sure your linked app to open store links is set to TWINUI.

Gungel said,
Your link to open the Store from a hyper link is messed up. Make sure your linked app to open store links is set to TWINUI.

I didn't click article links I typed apps name in app store search bar and in charm bar search

psionicinversion said,
cocktail flow.... USELESS!!! you my sir are quite obviously not an alcoholic

A true alcoholic does not have the time to make cocktails…

Oh go-on then, I'll bite... but first;

- are you impaired in any way?
- Do use anything other than a standard wheel-mouse?
- Have you bother to try a real-hardware install of Windows 8/8.1 over time?

If so, then how can you not use be able to use any Modern app with a keyboard and mouse? Uses too much real-estate? Get a second screen! Dysfunctional without touch? Never-ever notice any problem.

A synergized experience between desktop and tablet? - it's all good for me...

Mugwump00 said,
Uses too much real-estate? Get a second screen!

Ok, I'll bite that one.
Your solution to improper software is buying additional hardware? That sounds reasonable… /s

Mafia_14 said,
These are all useless apps, unless you have some touch screen device.
I use nextgen reader on my non-touch laptop all the time. Massively superior to the crappy web-interface that feedly provide.

mog0 said,
I use nextgen reader on my non-touch laptop all the time. Massively superior to the crappy web-interface that feedly provide.

Have you tried Newsblur? Or FeedDemon, which is a proper piece of software?

Setnom said,

Have you tried Newsblur? Or FeedDemon, which is a proper piece of software?

Out of curiosity why isn't Nextgen reader a "proper piece of software" exactly?

GP007 said,

Out of curiosity why isn't Nextgen reader a "proper piece of software" exactly?

I didn't mean it that way. I was talking about your comment about Feedly sucking. I recommended Newsblur as a web alternative, and FeedDemon as another that you install in your computer.

Jesus wept - cyclic argument or what?!

No-one is forcing you to use non-desktop apps/sites of your choice. News Bento (forex) is an attractive app to use, with touch or a mouse; having it (or any other Modern app) on a 2nd screen whilst retaining a full desktop on the main screen is extremely comfortable for me. On a tablet it's superb - and it's exactly the same experience, configured in sync. Win!

And don't come-it with 2nd monitors being the preserve of the leet or a major extravagance - my old HP 23" cost me £100 about 8 years ago.

Mugwump00 said,
And don't come-it with 2nd monitors being the preserve of the leet or a major extravagance - my old HP 23" cost me £100 about 8 years ago.

It's not a question of price. I simply question that buying a second screen to fix UI issues is the right thing to do…

MFH said,

It's not a question of price. I simply question that buying a second screen to fix UI issues is the right thing to do…

What UI issue needs fixing? I use a Modern app on a second screen sometimes, because I find it attractive, and aligned with my tablet usage. No-one forced me to.

MS wanted to break the mobile/touch PC/tablet market. Windows desktop apps are a poor fit. What were they supposed to do?

Mugwump00 said,

What were they supposed to do?

Create a tablet operating system (which they did), but don't force it onto devices where it is simply out of place (which they did not)…

MFH said,

Create a tablet operating system (which they did), but don't force it onto devices where it is simply out of place (which they did not)…

Where does Windows 8 force you to use Metro?

Dot Matrix said,

Where does Windows 8 force you to use Metro?


Is that a rhetorical question or haven't you used it at all since it's release?

MFH said,

Is that a rhetorical question or haven't you used it at all since it's release?

I'm confused where Windows 8 holds a gun to your head, and forces you to use Metro apps, and doesn't allow you to use desktop apps.

I use Windows 8 DAILY, and have a mix of desktop and Metro apps open at any given time. My mouse works, and so does my keyboard, so again, how are they forcing things on us?

Dot Matrix said,

I'm confused where Windows 8 holds a gun to your head, and forces you to use Metro apps, and doesn't allow you to use desktop apps.


The start screen, connecting to networks, search, keyboard language selection, active corners, charms, …

You're right, all those thing are definitely not Metro but follow the desktops style /s

MFH said,

The start screen, connecting to networks, search, keyboard language selection, active corners, charms, …

You're right, all those thing are definitely not Metro but follow the desktops style /s

And how are those hard to use on a desktop?

MFH said,

The start screen, connecting to networks, search, keyboard language selection, active corners, charms, …

You're right, all those thing are definitely not Metro but follow the desktops style /s


taskbar > new toolbar > start menu folder
a start menu, have fun.
few registry tweaks and bye bye hot corners and charms bar.

Its still supported by the OS out of the box, just _slightly_ different. Oh no?

So registry hacking is now needed to use the OS as a desktop OS, sounds like a good idea /s

And I don't want a Start Menu, I don't want a fullscreen program launcher. But it's obvious that you guys will never get that…

So the plethora of Start Menu replacements available for the bereaved aren't enough for you - you want Microsoft alone to pander to you?

Where does progress and evolution stop and the ego-tripping begin?

Mugwump00 said,
So the plethora of Start Menu replacements available for the bereaved aren't enough for you - you want Microsoft alone to pander to you?

Seems you also don't get it, I don't want a start menu! I simply don't want a trivial program launcher to be full screen - is it that too hard to understand for you?

Mugwump00 said,

Where does progress and evolution stop and the ego-tripping begin?

As if Metro is progress on the desktop, even Windows 1 had more flexible "window management" by allowing not only vertical tiling… (I use Metro every day on my Surface, still I don't think that that UI scales to big screens…)

bitflusher said,
In the store in the highlight section ever since it has been released. You almost cannot miss it.

Not the point. Why isn't it mentioned in the article?

News Bento, in lieu of Flipboard (tba). It's about the only one that's caused me surprise and delight and doesn't irritate in some-way - everything else seems to be to restore/replace functions from the Windows desktop and/or an Android tablet.

Spondle? Hyper-Youtube?

I'd also say "Amazing Lock Screens" but it appears to be broken

Windows store apps are the realisation of years of hard work by Microsoft since the early days of Vista (Avalon) with apps finally getting rid of the old and cluttery GDI and basing the new technology on DirectX.

Windows Store apps is a mix between the failed XAML and the failed Zune.

In fact, store apps are a reduced version of WPF.

"Metro" apps is a bad "evolution" that should be killed, i bet that the next CEO will kill it.

And about the 5 windows store apps and we SHOULD download now. Sheesh!. The Cocktail apps has been used as a model of how apps should be done, since the beta version of windows 8 and it is anything but impressible.

exactly. us that were following stuff like wpf were salivating at the mouth about what the future holds for windows, and the win32 and gdi stuff was considered antiquated. they finally nailed it.

Brony said,
Windows Store apps is a mix between the failed XAML and the failed Zune.

In fact, store apps are a reduced version of WPF.

"Metro" apps is a bad "evolution" that should be killed, i bet that the next CEO will kill it.

And about the 5 windows store apps and we SHOULD download now. Sheesh!. The Cocktail apps has been used as a model of how apps should be done, since the beta version of windows 8 and it is anything but impressible.

The biggest reason I, as a developer, am not investing any time into Modern Apps is because in the past 5 years I have been burned by Microsoft killing off other technologies that were supposed to "power the future of Windows development for the next decade". With all the changes going on within Microsoft I wouldn't be surprised if WinRT (the new development platform not the RT OS version) were killed off. For many years Microsoft were pushing .NET as the future and now we have C++ making a huge comeback and Microsoft are putting much more efforts into improving their C++ offerings over everything. I could be wrong of course and WinRT and Modern Apps will be the only thing Microsoft offers in 5 years time. Who knows. I doubt even Microsoft could tell you what their 5 year plan is with any kind of certainty. The reality is that the world does not following Microsoft's lead anymore like they did in the 90s and early 00s.

That argument is so stupid. I develop in .net and C++. You make your apps for today's market and not what might be in 5 or 10 years down the road. No company can give you that certainty of supporting a development platform for 5 or more years. You're basically forfeiting on the largest installed base of any OS because they might change someday.

Gungel said,
That argument is so stupid. I develop in .net and C++. You make your apps for today's market and not what might be in 5 or 10 years down the road. No company can give you that certainty of supporting a development platform for 5 or more years. You're basically forfeiting on the largest installed base of any OS because they might change someday.

Depends, if the apps took 1 year to develop then it should be compatible for at least the next 3-5 years (with some minor changes and revisions).

Right now, to program to "desktop" is a safe bet, because we know that MS can't kill it for at least the next 5-10 years. However, to program to "metro" gives a big degree of uncertainly.


I still have not made the switch to Metro and still develop for desktop. However I see great potentiontial in Windows 8 apps. I use WPF and have been using WPF for the past 4 years, and .NET for the past 12 years.
As a developer you should know that C++ is part of .NET too.
.NET lives in Windows 8 apps as well. In fact they are working on RyuJIT 64-bit JIT compiler at the moment which is showing a great jump in performance. My wild guess is that it will be out by next year, just in time for Windows 8.2. And guess what ? Windows 8.2 apps will make use of it.

Brony said,
Windows Store apps is a mix between the failed XAML and the failed Zune.

In fact, store apps are a reduced version of WPF.

"Metro" apps is a bad "evolution" that should be killed, i bet that the next CEO will kill it.

And about the 5 windows store apps and we SHOULD download now. Sheesh!. The Cocktail apps has been used as a model of how apps should be done, since the beta version of windows 8 and it is anything but impressible.

Once I switched to XAML I never looked back and I can only laugh at myself at how painful and difficult and crappy it was to get things done in GDI+.
Visual Studio 2010, 2012, 2013 interface is all WPF.

Just give me one GDI+ desktop application that is as nicely crafted as the XAML apps. I challenge you.

C#Rocks said,
paint.NET is making use of Direct2D - still a .NET app, not Win32

You know that Direct2D is part of DirectX, which is based on COM and is far closer to Win32 than to .NET, right?

Direct2D came out in ca. 2009 with Windows 7. It is native code, not JIT. Still it can be used in managed code with no problem. It's quite low level and use specifically for instances where performance is critical. It would be overkill and does not make sense to use Direct2D/DirectWrite for everything. It's like writing Win32 apps in assembly language.

Brony said,

Depends, if the apps took 1 year to develop then it should be compatible for at least the next 3-5 years (with some minor changes and revisions).

Right now, to program to "desktop" is a safe bet, because we know that MS can't kill it for at least the next 5-10 years. However, to program to "metro" gives a big degree of uncertainly.


I'm curious. What software have you developed for Windows that wasn't viable 5 years out due to the platform discarding the tech?

MFH said,

You know that Direct2D is part of DirectX, which is based on COM and is far closer to Win32 than to .NET, right?
It really doesn't matter. You know that, right?

It's hard to point out everything wrong with this post.

InTheSwiss said,
The biggest reason I, as a developer, am not investing any time into Modern Apps is because in the past 5 years I have been burned by Microsoft killing off other technologies that were supposed to "power the future of Windows development for the next decade".

.Net, WPF/XAML still around and going strong for desktop that it was built for. It even exists in WinRT and the component market is still going strong
With all the changes going on within Microsoft I wouldn't be surprised if WinRT (the new development platform not the RT OS version) were killed off.
Anybody who seriously believes WinRT is going away anytime soon is crazy. It may morph into something more broad/powerful, but it isn't dying off unless MS itself is dying.
For many years Microsoft were pushing .NET as the future and now we have C++ making a huge comeback and Microsoft are putting much more efforts into improving their C++ offerings over everything.
The .net Framework has been around for 11 years. It has done nothing but improve my most accounts and is heavily support all over MS's offerings. C++ has been around the entire time and just because they are still supporting C++ doesn't mean .net is useless. .Net is still the fastest way to get the vast majority of client apps built up. I doubt that's changing anytime soon.
I could be wrong of course and WinRT and Modern Apps will be the only thing Microsoft offers in 5 years time. Who knows. I doubt even Microsoft could tell you what their 5 year plan is with any kind of certainty.
All tech you've talked about has lasted more than 5 years and is still heavily supported and actively enhanced

InTheSwiss said,

The biggest reason I, as a developer, am not investing any time into Modern Apps is because in the past 5 years I have been burned by Microsoft killing off other technologies that were supposed to "power the future of Windows development for the next decade". With all the changes going on within Microsoft I wouldn't be surprised if WinRT (the new development platform not the RT OS version) were killed off. For many years Microsoft were pushing .NET as the future and now we have C++ making a huge comeback and Microsoft are putting much more efforts into improving their C++ offerings over everything. I could be wrong of course and WinRT and Modern Apps will be the only thing Microsoft offers in 5 years time. Who knows. I doubt even Microsoft could tell you what their 5 year plan is with any kind of certainty. The reality is that the world does not following Microsoft's lead anymore like they did in the 90s and early 00s.

You do realize that each iteration of technology is usable by the next framework?

So if you had invested in .NET and WPF, you could be using the same code and knowledge in WinRT.

Microsoft didn't abandon you, you did.

Brony said,
Windows Store apps is a mix between the failed XAML and the failed Zune.

Um, no.

In fact, store apps are a reduced version of WPF.

Absolutely no.

Edited by Brandon Live, Oct 28 2013, 4:23pm :

C#Rocks said,

Once I switched to XAML I never looked back and I can only laugh at myself at how painful and difficult and crappy it was to get things done in GDI+.
Visual Studio 2010, 2012, 2013 interface is all WPF.

Just give me one GDI+ desktop application that is as nicely crafted as the XAML apps. I challenge you.

Well, to be fair, you're comparing apples and oranges. GDI(+) is a drawing API. Its modern equivalent is D2D. Building an app with either directly is going to be a challenge. XAML is a UI framework. A better comparison is XAML versus other UI frameworks, like WinForms, HTML, or any of the third party options build on top of GDI.

Riva said,
And how is XAML a failure?
It seems that since MS is not continuing to improve and release new versions of silverlight people think .net, xaml, wpf are all dead. It's an odd stream of logic.

Well killing Silverlight was a great idea because from being a subset of WPF eventually became a ****** version. A lot of banks here in London are looking for WPF/XAML developers for their bespoke solutions and ofc Windows Store Apps supporting XAML means that any desktop application developer can quickly jump in to Store Apps.

Riva said,
Well killing Silverlight was a great idea because from being a subset of WPF eventually became a ****** version. A lot of banks here in London are looking for WPF/XAML developers for their bespoke solutions and ofc Windows Store Apps supporting XAML means that any desktop application developer can quickly jump in to Store Apps.
Yea, I would have loved to see them keep investing into Silverlight but it seems like it really isn't needed anymore. I agree about WPF/XAML. Anybody already familiar with that tech can jump right into Windows Store Apps. I think the .Net folks are just a bit butt-hurt because MS also allowed people familiar with HTML5/CSS/Javascript to be just as comfortable... flooding the dev pool with web developers too which creates more competition. I'm all for that, it's great for the platform and it's great for the end user.

Riva said,
True but HTML based apps are not as powerful as WPF apps.

Depends what you mean. There are many, many ways in which the HTML/JS platform is superior (including performance for many scenarios, especially startup and user interactions).

Brandon Live said,

Well, to be fair, you're comparing apples and oranges. GDI(+) is a drawing API. Its modern equivalent is D2D. Building an app with either directly is going to be a challenge. XAML is a UI framework. A better comparison is XAML versus other UI frameworks, like WinForms, HTML, or any of the third party options build on top of GDI.

OK let's compare it to WinForms. Do you sincerely think WinForms is superior to WPF ? Really ? Are you serious ?

The databinding power in WPF is world class (as in XAML). WinForms databinding was a constant headache. (I know, I used it for 7 years).

Besides, WinForms relies on GDI+ to create graphics, draw text, and manipulate graphical images as objects (System.Drawing, System.Drawing.2D etc). DPI independence was a NIGHTMARE in WinForms. Reason no. 1 why I moved away from WinForms. Now imagine running a WinForms application on a 1920x1080 display. GOOD LUCK!

Riva said,
True but HTML based apps are not as powerful as WPF apps. And then you have C++ ones which are the uber ones.
I don't think power is the question. It's the right tool for the job. HTML/CSS/JS "apps" its all about UI functionality mostly. If you have a tiny app that really doesn't do much being able to whip it out in HTML/CSS/JS is beneficial. HTML/CSS/JS dev's are a dime a dozen and cheap. Training someone in those techs is also cheap. If you're a dev company cranking out little apps for mom and pops etc. then being able to offer those apps at a reasonable price and still perform well for the audience is a win for everybody but people who have invested further in WPF or even all the way to C++ GUI's.

Now, if you're building a really complicated application or one that has to have some serious power behind it you start walking up the stack of complicated tech. XAML/WPF/C# then all the way to C++ GUI's. MS is making platform that can be exploited by damn near any developer out there. I've found that most are just unhappy that they now have to compete against web developers for jobs now.

C#Rocks said,
OK let's compare it to WinForms. Do you sincerely think WinForms is superior to WPF ? Really ? Are you serious ?

The databinding power in WPF is world class (as in XAML). WinForms databinding was a constant headache. (I know, I used it for 7 years).

Besides, WinForms relies on GDI+ to create graphics, draw text, and manipulate graphical images as objects (System.Drawing, System.Drawing.2D etc). DPI independence was a NIGHTMARE in WinForms. Reason no. 1 why I moved away from WinForms. Now imagine running a WinForms application on a 1920x1080 display. GOOD LUCK!

Winforms isn't that bad. WPF, IMO is better to use. But you're demonizing winforms a bit much man.

P.S. I hate databinding. I don't know how anybody uses and has a pleasant experience being tied into that sandbox.

Ok I am late to the party in replying but there has been some excellent discussion! There is no doubt WPF is a thousand miles better than WinForms. WPF and XAML are lovely to work with once you get used to it and it is nice to have moved away from all the cruft of features past.

I will admit that my original post was a little harsh on Microsoft. .NET and related technologies are great and it would be a massive shock if MS were to kill it off and I highly doubt that will happen. I will put my negativity down to being in a very bad mood at the time! I am glad that it turned into such an interesting discussion though and not a "omg you are a moron" attack Some great responses from C#Rocks, really interesting!

Well GDI+ under Windows 7 onwards actually uses DirectUI in the back just like how WPF does. GDI on its own was a nightmare as it was redrawing the entire screen to refresh a single window and all the processing was in the CPU. DirectUI can update specific screen regions and offloads everything to the GPU as it uses DirectX.

Riva said,
True but HTML based apps are not as powerful as WPF apps. And then you have C++ ones which are the uber ones.

This depends on a lot more context than being used in this argument...

Everyone is conflating language, runtimes, ATL/WRL, WinRT, Win32, API, ABI, and on and on.

In the context of Windows 8 and the replacement for Win32, which is WinRT, C++ has equal standing with other languages and tools, with the exception that touching the WRL and COM on WinRT is easier.

In general though, a well designed 'Web App' (HTML5/JS) can be just as fast and powerful as a C++ App running on WinRT, just as a C# or VB App running on WinRT can also be equally as powerful and fast.

Mobius Enigma said,

This depends on a lot more context than being used in this argument...

Everyone is conflating language, runtimes, ATL/WRL, WinRT, Win32, API, ABI, and on and on.

In the context of Windows 8 and the replacement for Win32, which is WinRT, C++ has equal standing with other languages and tools, with the exception that touching the WRL and COM on WinRT is easier.

In general though, a well designed 'Web App' (HTML5/JS) can be just as fast and powerful as a C++ App running on WinRT, just as a C# or VB App running on WinRT can also be equally as powerful and fast.


A web based app cannot have the real time performance of native C++ apps.

Mobius Enigma said,
This depends on a lot more context than being used in this argument...

Everyone is conflating language, runtimes, ATL/WRL, WinRT, Win32, API, ABI, and on and on.

In the context of Windows 8 and the replacement for Win32, which is WinRT, C++ has equal standing with other languages and tools, with the exception that touching the WRL and COM on WinRT is easier.

In general though, a well designed 'Web App' (HTML5/JS) can be just as fast and powerful as a C++ App running on WinRT, just as a C# or VB App running on WinRT can also be equally as powerful and fast.

While I would tend to agree with you in this entire post. I believe the Skype team said that, to make the most powerful skype client it could inside WinRT, it had to use C++. I don't remember why and I wish I could source this with a link but I don't remember where I read it

Indeed. As far as concerning performance and featureset it goes like;
Web Based < .NET Based < C++ native
that applies everywhere.

C#Rocks said,

OK let's compare it to WinForms. Do you sincerely think WinForms is superior to WPF ? Really ? Are you serious ?

The databinding power in WPF is world class (as in XAML). WinForms databinding was a constant headache. (I know, I used it for 7 years).

Besides, WinForms relies on GDI+ to create graphics, draw text, and manipulate graphical images as objects (System.Drawing, System.Drawing.2D etc). DPI independence was a NIGHTMARE in WinForms. Reason no. 1 why I moved away from WinForms. Now imagine running a WinForms application on a 1920x1080 display. GOOD LUCK!

What? I never said that. Although, WinForms did have some advantages over WPF (especially for performance in many situations, and even moreso versus earlier versions of WPF). What I was pointing out was that the UI framework and the drawing/graphics API are different kinds of things. For example, there have been XAML versions which render using GDI.

Riva said,
Well GDI+ under Windows 7 onwards actually uses DirectUI in the back just like how WPF does. GDI on its own was a nightmare as it was redrawing the entire screen to refresh a single window and all the processing was in the CPU. DirectUI can update specific screen regions and offloads everything to the GPU as it uses DirectX.

No it does not. In fact, you have that backwards. Or you're missing up terms. If you really meant DirectUI / DUI, that's an internal MS-only UI framework which renders using GDI (though some stuff in Win8 uses it to render onto a DComp surface and leverages DWrite).

If you meant Direct2D, then also no. GDI and Direct2D are parallel stacks (although the latter actually sits above Direct3D).

Neither of those has anything to do with updating regions versus the entire screen. The oldest Win32 + GDI apps only redrew invalidated and visible regions of their windows. In fact, that became less true in some cases with the advent of composited output / DWM (since the concept of "off-screen" changed significantly).

Also, you're incorrect to say that everything in GDI is done on the CPU. In fact, a lot of it was hardware accelerated in the Win2K / XP days. The WDDM 1.0 driver model in Vista broke most of that, and the WDDM 1.1 revision in Win7 brought some important bits of it back.

Riva said,

A web based app cannot have the real time performance of native C++ apps.

"Web based" is a confusing term as definitions vary. However, an HTML/JS app on Windows 8 can absolutely perform indistinguishably to a native C++ app. In some specific cases, they can perform better than native C++ apps using XAML, because of advantages the web runtime has over the XAML one (particularly around touch/scrolling interactions). They can certainly outperform C#/.NET apps in some ways, such as startup performance.

Note that I'm largely ignoring you use of the word "realtime" since in this context I don't think it's meaningful.

Riva said,
Indeed. As far as concerning performance and featureset it goes like;
Web Based < .NET Based < C++ native
that applies everywhere.

Not true. The answer will vary based on several factors. But there are obvious examples where this is not true. Start-up performance and panning/scrolling, JS apps can beat .NET apps. Feature-wise, the WinJS control library tends to be ahead of the XAML one (i.e. in Win8.1 XAML just got controls that WinJS had in Win8 like DatePicker, and WinJS has new ones like NavBar which XAML doesn't).

Riva said,

A web based app cannot have the real time performance of native C++ apps.

On WinRT, yes it can, especially if it is primarily a UI based Application.

All languages run on the WRL that WinRT was also written on. WinRT is a ABI, not an API.

Go dig out the 2013 Build presentations.

Mobius Enigma said,

On WinRT, yes it can, especially if it is primarily a UI based Application.

All languages run on the WRL that WinRT was also written on. WinRT is a ABI, not an API.

Go dig out the 2013 Build presentations.

Well... WRL is actually just a C++ template/helper library for working with COM and WinRT at the ABI level. It's only useful for C++ developers (who aren't using the C++/CS extensions). It's basically a lightweight modern version of ATL.

The point that everyone is missing is that with C++ you can call any function and do whatever you like by even including assembly code in your application. JS/HTML and .NET Is pretty much whatever functionality Microsoft has given you over the API.

Riva said,
The point that everyone is missing is that with C++ you can call any function and do whatever you like by even including assembly code in your application. JS/HTML and .NET Is pretty much whatever functionality Microsoft has given you over the API.

Actually, Store apps are restricted which APIs they can use even from C++. Yes, obviously C++ gives you much greater ability to optimize your code, especially in making efficient use of memory, avoiding unnecessary copies, etc. But for many apps, the difference isn't noticeable to the end user. For many other apps, your best bet is to write an HTML/JS app with C++ components for CPU/memory intensive work it performs. Of course you can use XAML if you like that.

I'd say that is because they build new technologies added and stopped because it gets you not only to buy the new Visual studio, but then books and all the training needed to understand the new stuff added. MS knows this. this is why they want Windows 8/8.1 to take off for businesses because they'll make a killing on enterprise licensing but also the huge need for corporations who will need to spend BIG bucks just to teach the users on how to use this new OS.

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