Why I can't appreciate most Windows Store apps

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 15, 2012

You may know that I run a weekly series over at Betanews where I look at the best new app releases or updates for Windows 8. If you do not, check it out, it is great, haha. It takes quite some time to browse through the new store releases to find the ten apps that stick out of the rest. The main problem here is that new apps are usually not rated or reviewed, unless it is an app released by a heavyweight such as Microsoft, Adobe or another big software company.

Anyway, I browse through a lot of apps and test a lot as well, and get a pretty good view of what's getting released and the overall quality of the store. Windows Store, like the Android or iOS store, has a quality problem. For every app that you like, you get dozens of apps that I'd consider great if I'd still be using a Commodore Amiga.

Even if I take all the low quality apps aside and look only at the high quality ones, I can only come to one conclusion: that I do not really need any of the apps that the store provides me with.

Don't get me wrong. Watching live TV using the store is great, listening to Internet Radio using one of the apps available, or watching movie trailers, but that is all also available on the Internet or on my desktop. Why would I use an application to watch movie trailers if I can go to sites like Trailerpunk to do the same and without having to install an app that uses storage space?

Why use an Internet Radio app when a program like AIMP3 makes more stations available in form of a library, and if that is not enough, supports radio streams that I can add to it?

The problem that I'm facing is that I have programs and Internet sites for everything that the store has to offer and I'm hard pressed to find a reason to use the a store app instead.

There is only one situation where I'd consider using store apps in favor of desktop programs, and that is on a machine running Windows RT. The only reason for that is that I can't run desktop programs on that system.

To be fair, there is another situation where I prefer to use store apps, or shall I say games. When my nephew comes around, I prefer to install store apps for him for a number of reasons. They have been verified by Microsoft, I can be sure that a click does not accidentally take him to a site or game that is not appropriate.

This may sound a bit harsh and all, but I can't really find another reason to use Windows Store apps on a desktop PC. Can you?


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  1. Rodalpho said on December 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Well the other guy just plays Tuxracer, so…. I think we can count him out of the discussion entirely.

    TF2 and CS Go aside, you happen to prefer genres that don’t translate well to consoles. I love RPG games myself. The best-selling PC games of 2012 were as follows. Three MMOs (which don’t work on consoles for a variety of reasons) and diablo3.

    Some of these console ports are GOOD ports, don’t get me wrong. Actually, all everything but BLOPS2 in this list is an excellent port. But they were developed for consoles first, and thus would be covered in my windows RT & windows store references above.

    1) Diablo3 – PC only
    2) WoW – PC only
    3) Dishonored – Console port
    4) CoD: BLOPS2 – Console port
    5) Assassin’s Creed 3 – Console port
    6) Guild Wars 2 – PC only
    7) SWTOR – PC only
    8) Skyrim – console port
    9) Battlefield 3 – console port
    10) Borderlands 2 – console port

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      Well the game that I played from that list besides the ones I already mentioned are SWTOR, Guild Wars 2 and Skyrim. I agree that many games are console ports though which often shines through.

  2. Rodalpho said on December 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Also for the people saying they don’t play console games– sure you do. Most PC games are console ports.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      I’m also not playing many console ports I think, last games that I played extensively were Team Fortress 2, Diablo 3 (well not that much actually because it sucks), Mists of Pandaria, CS Go and Torchlight 2.

      I like FPS, RGPs and strategy games mostly and those kinda suck on consoles, at least on the level I play them.

    2. rpwheeler said on December 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Emmmm… People around me played games like Doom, Warcraft, Civilisation, Quake, Diablo, Starcraft, Fallout…. If that games have console versions — I’m fine with that. If not – I don’t care.

      Since 2008 I’m moving from brand games to free and open source games. Consoles are not FOSS-friendly, and I’m not going to pay money for console to pay even more for games then.

      Better spend that money on good drinks, as my friend says :)

  3. Rodalpho said on December 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Sorry, didn’t check this over the weekend. No citations available due to NDA.

    Obviously the xbox720 won’t run the same GPU as the Surface. It’ll have something much more powerful. But before pooh-poohing gaming on tablets, note that the ipad4 can basically run xbox360 level games.

  4. Coyote said on December 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Great insight from a a reviewers POV. And thanks to imu for the link, very insightful and I believe he explains it all in the first few paragraphs.

    “The whole point of the glass effect itself was to allow the end user to make better use of their screen real-estate by allowing them to see content beneath the active window.”

    Metro is the farthest from that vision as I could possibly imagine. How did they screw up so badly? Advertising, removing the chrome from most windows removes the placement for banner ads and marketing gunk. I now imagine Metro as a Nascar car at this point.

    I also think they’ve forgotten the idea of the whole background tasks, I don’t need my radio to take up all my screen real estate anytime I want to change stations or adjust the volume.

  5. rob said on December 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    i own no apple products & don’t even use itunes, but for me the thought of windows apps brings one word to mind – rubbish. windows has officially blown it and they are on their way down, only surviving because apple products are so darn expensive.

  6. lainiwaku said on December 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    clock apps => 2$ for just show the hour . . . metrololo

  7. Gonzo said on December 16, 2012 at 2:11 am

    I agree Martin. Apps replacing bookmarks is not progress and RT apps are handcuffed compared to their Win32 counterparts. Given the potential of HTML5, there may be no future for it at all (think Tizen). Apple was right, it’s not needed on the laptop/desktop. As an optional add-on maybe, but not the forced integration we see in Win 8.

    Having discovered that Metro apps on x86 laptop/desktops are next to useless, doesn’t this opinion extend to Windows 8 as a whole? Don’t you find that the “Modern UI” isn’t needed and just gets in the way? Do you feel that you’re more productive in Windows 7?

    As a tech writer I suppose sticking with Windows 8 makes sense. However, assuming their hardware doesn’t include a touchscreen, would you recommend Win 8 to any colleagues or friends over Windows 7?

  8. Stoner said on December 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I don’t see any reason to use Windows 8 on a desktop PC at all…

  9. Eins said on December 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Windows 8 has been released for less than 2 months…quality apps will takes time to develop…

    Also your opinion ≠ other people’s thought

    AIMP3 does not support local radio in my country, whereas TuneIn works great…also now there are easier apps to download video from youtube, many users will not have to pirate IDM or other software…oh and editing photos using Fhotoroom, Fotor and Photofunia are way better than using any photo editing web app

    Websites does not support push notification or snap feature, hence the need for software such as MetroTwit, PrimeTube, News Bento, Reddit to Go and many others…

    By your logic, all big websites doesnt need to invest, building “apps” to access their services when users can just go visit the actual website using web browser

    1. JohnMWhite said on December 16, 2012 at 2:41 am

      When did the OP ever say that his opinion = other people’s thoughts? He invited other opinions. Somebody is defensive…

    2. Gonzo said on December 16, 2012 at 2:38 am

      “quality apps will takes time to develop…”
      Why bother porting an Android/iOS app if there’s no users? Sales are low and not expected to pick up. High prices and limited devices = little incentive for users or devs to adopt Win Phone 8 or RT and they’re clearly not needed on the desktop.

      “oh and editing photos…”
      I edit them on my smartphone. If they need more attention or I use a nice camera then I’ll use a real tool like GIMP or Paint.NET. This argument completely fails.

      “Websites does not support push notification”
      Who needs this on a desktop? It’s 2012, we have smartphones!!

      “By your logic, all big websites doesnt need to invest, building “apps””
      No, they just don’t need to build Windows apps.

  10. Marco said on December 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Very good point Martin, totally agree. But I think we’re all 40+ here and geeeks, aren’t we? And we are used to have total control on our PCs. For younger generations raised with gaming consoles and then smartphones, things are different.

    1. JohnMWhite said on December 16, 2012 at 2:40 am

      I have to disagree with that. I’m under 30, I remember 386s, Amigas and even the BBC Micro. True, games consoles were something you just shoved a cartridge into and it loaded, but that was definitively a gaming device. The PS3 was capable of so much more until Sony decided to block users from loading their own operating system onto it, and gamers were pretty mad at the time. Just because they put up with some restrictive consoles doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in administering their own machines when possible.

      Not to mention youth unemployment being so high and student debts so crippling in many parts of the industrialised world that the young are not largely in a position to buy $800 tablets or $1000 touch screen computers. I do not see who Microsoft thinks this will appeal to.

  11. imu said on December 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Well,actually you’ve reached the point Martin,the Windows apps are pointless on desktop pc or are they?Think of it as they are probably meant to make user to get used to this kind of computing. My bet is that the Microsoft’s plans are to get rid of desktop style any moment soon so they want you to learn the very new way of how things will look like in the future. Administrating your machine by yourself will become thing of the past as all the routes seem to lead to Windows Azzure style I guess.

    More interesting reading you can find here:


    1. kalmly said on December 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Back to my typewriter and calculator.

  12. Gerry said on December 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I agree entirely!

  13. sades said on December 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I wonder what’s microsoft thinking when they made TIFKAM (The Interface Formerly Known as Metro) mandatory for desktop.

    Oh wait, they’re thinking Apple, “we know you better than you do” http://www.techspot.com/news/51101-new-windows-chief-explains-why-microsoft-redesigned-windows.html

  14. glitch00 said on December 15, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I mainly download Windows Store apps for their live tiles. The xe.com app is a perfect example and I find it very convenient to check the exchange rates every day. The “Save the date” app is another example. Other apps like the cheezburger app where you can get your lulz also gives a nice desktop experience.

  15. Zakhar said on December 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I agree, most apps are completely useless. They actually are not “apps”, they are similar to webpages or somewhat. The most useful ones are those, that can show me weather or short news summary on PC startup.
    The fact, that most Metro apps are running fullscreen makes them even more useless, they are never worth launching because they take up the whole screen.

  16. Nerdebeu said on December 15, 2012 at 9:36 am

    You have very well sum up the situation. Those so-called “opponents” or the “haters” of Windows 8 will not stop at the disappearance of the start menu. It’s been a while that I say that I see no interest in the filthy tiles to give me the weather, notify me of very good articles on Ghacks etc… For example Opera and its feeds RSS reader or its mail client bring me everything I need.

    I installed Windows 8, but I am almost never on it, and it is not so efficient as it compared to a clean and optimized Windows 7. And at least on 7, when I’m looking for one program, file or otherwise, I am not required to switch from the Office to the Startscreen and return the desktop once launched…

    For me the applications are gadgets, with reduced functionality (have you try One Note and compared with that of Office 2010?). An app full screen reduces the productivity (and 1/3-2/3 is not suitable)

    A question off topic: I do not see any results of the GiveAway on your Google + page (since December 10, Internet Download Manager), I’m idiot, blind or you publish them elsewhere, or have I missed something?

  17. Ross Presser said on December 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Apps in general are an attempt to stop people from using web browsers. A web browser provides more control FOR the user — he can do anything he wants, at any time, and the website has no idea he’s doing it. Apps provide more control OVER the user.

  18. pgg said on December 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Well yeah, a lot of apps are useless, but there’s few I use. Like Shazam, and few XBox live games like Wordament.. But really, not much else, because web browser does all that browsing which most of the apps offer.

  19. Roderick Wells said on December 15, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I have not gotten windows 8 yet, so my opinion is biased. But from what I have seen, I like the fact that the apps display information on the start screen. Thats the only reason why I would use some apps. When I load up windows, I could see how to geek articles if there are any brand new, weather, and new mail. Before I hit the desktop. After that, I dont see the point of some of those apps. Basically my customized homepage before I hit the desktop.

  20. JohnMWhite said on December 15, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I feel the same as Martin. I have tried a handful of apps, mostly just to see what they’re like, and they are usually more hassle than help in the first place. Every app seems to take forever to load for me, and things like weather apps or news apps frequently forget to refresh themselves. I can open a new tab and find out the weather in about two taps of the keyboard, but if I use a weather app I have to open the start menu, find it somewhere in that awful mess, and then wait for it to take its sweet time loading. There are some all right games, but the Internet is full of games, flash-based or downloadable. I don’t see any, dare I say it, killer app.

  21. grissino said on December 15, 2012 at 2:01 am

    I was thinking the same thing as you when I was trying some apps… for a desktop didnt make any sense…

  22. rpwheeler said on December 15, 2012 at 1:25 am

    No, I can’t. As I wrote before, I see nothing good in Windows 8, and Windows Store is not exception.

  23. fokka said on December 15, 2012 at 1:14 am

    slightly off topic:

    this is kinda how i felt for quite some time, when the apple appstore came out. you know how apple always “brags” about the sheer size of their store and how great and awesome it is.

    i wouldn’t mind this very much and i’m not saying anything against the appstore itself, but i got the feeling, that the vast majority of the apps are only pendants to their corresponding website/-service. almost every site you visit has it’s own app. now instead of setting bookmarks in your browser, you clutter your homescreens with god knows how many apps.

    and this seems/seemed to be the big volume of the appstore they always praise.

    i know there’s more to this topic, than i just wrote and i don’t really want to attack someone, not even apple; they are a business and they sure act like one.

    just wanted to vent a little about the discrepancy of the “oh my god one billion apps!!!” -promise and the “oh my god, not another news app!!!” -reality.

    1. rpwheeler said on December 15, 2012 at 1:40 am

      If apps represents some server-side data, yes, the same data can be represented by website.

      But they can introduce some benefits, like one login for the all apps, for example — it would be harder for different websites to do the same.

  24. Rodalpho said on December 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Yes, actually– but not yet.

    The Xbox720 will be based on windows8, and xbox720 games will run on windows RT. That means that it will be extremely easy to port them to windows 8 x86. So if you want to play console-quality games, you will need to purchase them from the windows store. This is incidentally why the guys at Valve fear windows 8.

    That’s a couple years away, though. The games will start coming out when the x720 releases in Q4 2013, but they will primarily be first party titles. You know, the sorts of games that microsoft forced to use “GFW live” previously. It will take years for the majority of PC games to go through the windows store, because that locks out windows7 users. But it will happen– it’ll just take until (probably) 2016 or later.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 15, 2012 at 1:45 am

      Windows RT devices need to become really powerful for that. Even Xbox Live Arcade titles require some power, and I can’t really see devices like the Surface RT delivering that. A gaming RT device on the other hand could probably deliver the power needed.

    2. rpwheeler said on December 15, 2012 at 1:30 am

      Rodalpho, almost everyone around me works with PC and has one or even more PCs at home. A few have Steam accounts.

      But I don’t know anyone who owns Xbox and needs Xbox games. So I doubt that they change the picture: most users in the world won’t need Windows store anyway.

    3. sades said on December 15, 2012 at 1:26 am

      [citation needed]

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