When it makes sense to use Windows Store Apps

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 9, 2012
Updated • Oct 25, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

By now we know that Windows 8 ships with an apps store that works in a similar fashion as Google's or Apple's app store.

You get a selection of apps and games on the store, some free, some paid, that you can download and install easily. While I'm not a fan of the store layout, I guess it is something that one can get accustomed to after a while.

The real question, at least for me, is why you'd want to use Windows Store apps at all.

After all, if you are running an x86 version of Windows 8, you get access to all the traditional desktop apps that you may have already worked with on previous versions of Windows.

What are the core reasons for installing and working with Windows Store Apps?

  • It is pretty obvious for Windows RT users. Windows RT is a special version of Windows 8 for ARM hardware that does not include options to install traditional programs on the system. All that is left therefore is the Windows Store and its apps, and the Internet. For instance,instead of not using an ftp program at all, you get the option to install an ftp app that you can use.
  • Entertainment: A big part of all apps currently available in the store are games, and the core advantage of the games offered here is that you find, install and play them in a safe environment. Instead of having to head out to find a game suitable for a 9 year old boy or a 13 year old girl, you can simply browse the store to find age appropriate games. You do not have to worry about malicious software or compatibility issues, as it is all taken care of automatically. The same is true for apps that may entertain or teach children.
  • Tablets and mobile devices: The apps offered in the store are optimized for a fullscreen experience. That's great if you want to browse the news, sports, watch videos, browse through your photo gallery, or play a quick game. You do not have to worry about compatibility with websites, ensure that your browser is up to date to view contents, and have less chrome on the page that is removing space from the contents.

What is the core reason for not-using the apps in the store?

  • The apps, at least those currently on offer in the store, are usually inferior in functionality. Why use the built-in SkyDrive app if you can just load the SkyDrive website in your web browser for better accessibility of your files hosted at the file hosting service? Why use an ftp app that is hard to navigate if you can use winSCP instead? From a professional point of view, apps often do not cut it and can't be use to work effectively. There may be exceptions to the rule, but the majority of apps are not suitable for work as they lack functionality.

The store has barely anything to offer for professional users due to the limitations imposed on how apps can be displayed and work in the operating system. For regular users, it may provide access to features that are otherwise difficult to come by.

What's your take on the store and the apps it offers? Will you use the store at all when you upgrade to Windows 8 or buy a PC running the operating system, or largely ignore it?


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  1. bazza said on October 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    For now the productivity apps aren’t many or pro based, but time heals many wounds and its library will broaden including api access to the platform.

    But of course its nice to end on a negative.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      While apps will certainly get better over time, some restrictions like the limited number of display options remains.

      1. bazza said on October 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        Indeed, but as similar restrictions were lifted for the windows phone 8 platform, on would see that with higher dev demand they will do the same for windows 8 in all its versions.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        Which is when I gladly admit that they are not inferior to desktop apps :)

        do not get me wrong, I’d like to see Microsoft make those changes as soon as possible as I think they are holding the platform back, big time.

  2. ilev said on October 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    For Windows RT , Microsoft’s Apps Store is the only option as there is no way
    of side loading applications from other sources outside the Apps Store.

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