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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