Here are five free, must-have Windows Applications for your new Surface/Windows 8 machine

With the launch of Windows 8 and the holiday shopping season now over, we know there are plenty of folks who are, for the first time, getting their hands on the new Start Screen that Windows 8 utilizes.  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 more than 20,000 applications, finding the right apps can be a difficult chore. So, we here at Neowin have picked out 5 apps that we like to call the “Starter Pack” that you should download to make sure that your first impressions of with Windows Store is a good experience.

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.

2. Cut the Rope

When you find that you are not in the mood to read and simply want to relax with a simple – but addicting – game, Cut the Rope is the perfect choice to kill some time. The simple gameplay is great for audiences of all ages and offers up tons of replay value.

With simple controls, bright and friendly colors, and a characters to love, Cut the Rope hits all the right notes with us as a game that will be timeless and family friendly.

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.

4. Cocktail Flow

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

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 or Windows RT. Best of all, every app mentioned here is free to download.

Let us know if you have any favorites or apps that we should checkout. We will be putting together more app packs in the future and would love to hear your feedback. 

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56 Comments

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frontends are considered a must-have apps on noe-win (typo intended). i take it back. the win egg fanboys are not only pathetic. they are desperate. lol.

About the wikipedia application, can i use it offline?. Because i remember that i had an application for pocketpc that allows me to check wikipedia offline (but no images).

I haven't used it, but considering the text for the articles on Wikipedia (current revisions only, no chat, no images) is > 20GB I'm going to guess no.

Seriously? These are the top5 apps someone must get once he installs Windows 8?

I don't think recommending these apps contributes exactly to your purpose of "make sure that your first impressions of with Windows Store is a good experience" as you mention but does the opposite...

Cut the Rope isn't free. I mean, you can download it for free and play the first two set of 20 levels but after that you have to purchase the full game ($4.99). Sorry guys, no free game here

Cut the Rope is not a free app, despite what it says in the app store. It's better categorised as a Trial, because you have to pay to have all of the boxes unlocked.

An app to make cocktails is a "must-have"? Someone's been hitting the eggnog too frequently this week, it appears.

COKid said,
An app to make cocktails is a "must-have"? Someone's been hitting the eggnog too frequently this week, it appears.

I think it has more to do with Cocktail flow being a good example on how to make an app with the Windows design language. It wouldnt have made it on my list for consumers but its a 'must-see' app for developers.

One app that I would put on this list is a public transportation list that has a live tile that tells you if there are delays on your favorite routes. Unfortunatly the one I'm using is a national application so I'm not sure if there is something like it in other countries. But it really is a must-have app, it really makes you appreciate live tiles.

Ronnet said,

I think it has more to do with Cocktail flow being a good example on how to make an app with the Windows design language. It wouldnt have made it on my list for consumers but its a 'must-see' app for developers.

I assisted to some Microsoft event (for developer) that they showed this application. And even when i am fans of microsoft, i don't buy that.

Trackage and WeatherFlow are fairly good apps - though the Trackage team seems to have introduced a bug that makes the app unable to accept UPS tracking numbers...

For games, I've enjoyed Radiant Defense and Robotek.

Yeah but you can cheat those easily with a memory-value changer, so it kinda ruins the fun of it all.

I still think BallStrike is a really awesome app and deserves to be here.

I used Trackage until I paid for Package Tracker, has a WP8 and synced RT app as well. Uses carrier logos and toast and metro notifications are really nice. Provides map of package location as well. Really nice. I think it was 1.99 or .99 can't remember. Trackage is an excellent Free app though.

Pluto is a Planet said,
Yeah but you can cheat those easily with a memory-value changer, so it kinda ruins the fun of it all.

If you're going to be a cheat, you can hardly turn around and complain that the cheating has diminished the fun of the game.

That's like draining all the water out of your swimming pool, and then complaining that you can't swim in it any more.

+1 vote for the most idiotic comment of the year.

Pluto is a Planet said,
Yeah but you can cheat those easily with a memory-value changer, so it kinda ruins the fun of it all.

Then don't use a memory-value changer.

I used Package Tracker since its first release on WP7, called Parcel Tracker. Good app and I bought both app on WP7 and Windows 8. Definitely deserve your money!

Wikipedia is an app on Win8??

lol!

No wonder they can claim so many apps in the app store. Take a web page and declare it an app!

Christ you have no clue.

Apps integrate with the OS, so now, if I want to look up something on Wikipedia (ie, look up Neowin), I just highlight the text, hit the share charm, click Wikipedia, and it pulls up the article for Neowin.

Anyway, there's an app for Wikipedia on every other mobile OS so stop bitching for the love of God.

dvb2000 said,
Wikipedia is an app on Win8??

lol!

No wonder they can claim so many apps in the app store. Take a web page and declare it an app!

One of the reason those web page become an apps is for touch purposes.

siah1214 said,
Apps integrate with the OS

who has no clue? I think you mean Apps integrate with the web, because apps have ALWAYS integrated with the OS.

Anyway, someone who throws together a front end to a website and calls it an app is really stretching it. Maybe he fools the simpletons, but most people are well aware what wikipedia really is.

minster11 said,
One of the reason those web page become an apps is for touch purposes.

just another reason why Windows 8 doesn't work on the desktop or laptop, who use a keyboard and mouse, not a touchscreen.

No way normal people are going to reach over their keyboard/mouse, across a table to use their PC via a touchscreen.

dvb2000 said,

who has no clue? I think you mean Apps integrate with the web, because apps have ALWAYS integrated with the OS.

Anyway, someone who throws together a front end to a website and calls it an app is really stretching it. Maybe he fools the simpletons, but most people are well aware what wikipedia really is.

It seems like you're both talking about two different things. In the rest of his post that you didn't quote, he's referring to the search and share contracts, not where ever the app is getting its data from and whatever it makes that info look like.

dvb2000 said,

just another reason why Windows 8 doesn't work on the desktop or laptop, who use a keyboard and mouse, not a touchscreen.

No way normal people are going to reach over their keyboard/mouse, across a table to use their PC via a touchscreen.

I agree with that you're saying about desktops. My screen is less than one foot away from my keyboard, but I know others have much more spaced out setups. But you also said laptops. They probably won't have to reach very far over their keyboard on a laptop.

dvb2000 said,
Wikipedia is an app on Win8??

lol!

No wonder they can claim so many apps in the app store. Take a web page and declare it an app!

You really are clueless. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it original form was a webpage but why can't they use its data to create an application?

The Wikipedia app is NOT a link to the website. It's an application fully realized in the new Windows design language. Which means that its integrated into the OS. Which in turn means that you can continue search queries in Wikipedia using the search-charm. For me it means I launch wikipedia with the correct page already opened. The search-charm is my no.1 way to navigate Windows 8 so it's really fast for me. I hope from one and to the other and all launch with the information I need right away.

The Wikipedia app rules and deserves to be in this top 5!

either you never seen any application store EVER in your life or you're doing something far worse than trolling: bitching

anyways have fun with your fight against the onward moving world don quixote, or stop bitching about windows 8, stay on windows 7 and never ever go anywhere near a touch display, it's the work of satan and makes you abnormal

"normal users", eh? yeah, you're the guy to tell what's normal and what's not, lol

yeah, the share charm trick is nice. but you can't use it from the desktop (which is where you will be most likely be able to actually highlight text). most metro/modern/windows8store apps wont let you highlight text.
also, the share charm is counter intuitive as hell for a damn search.

PmRd said,
Wow you really are a dumb troll, you try to look intelligent but it fails at every word you write

I don't like how Neowin changed the reply link to not quote the original any more... you can't tell who people are replying to. If they're going to remove the default quote from reply, they could at least add an "In reply to ..." type comment or something.

Anyhow, I assume the "dumb troll" you're referring to is dvb2000? If so, I agree entirely. Clearly he has no clue what role an app plays on tablets. Websites are not generally touch friendly, in addition a website would not be able to interact with the search or share charms of Windows 8/RT, one of it's best features.

TCLN Ryster said,

Yeah I was talking about him. I find it funny when people who have no ****ing clue about what they are talking about start bitching about stuff they never even used. I know for a fact that most websites are not touch friendly and real apps allow a deeper integration with the operating system even on non-touch computers.

Edited by PmRd, Dec 27 2012, 1:16am :

Are you troubled in the head, do you not get it or are you just being deliberately obtuse (or more likely just jealous that someone else has done this and you haven't?)

The apps hook into the OS, they add functionality. Highlight a word and a popup saying "Lookup" will appear, taking you directly to the wiki.

Why am I bothering, you're clearly just negative to the whole idea.

actually unlike the crappy one on Android it is an actually good app. it is beautiful and fluid and a heck of a lot better than the website

dvb2000 said,
Wikipedia is an app on Win8??

lol!

No wonder they can claim so many apps in the app store. Take a web page and declare it an app!

Some of my favored apps are: Maximum PC, Quick Toasts (reminder notifications), Pop Sci,, Iron Maiden Fan, robotek (silly game but fun.)