Forget humdrum and outdated looking programs. The future Windows apps are beautiful and clean.
Microsoft today released a beta version or Consumer Preview of its next operating system -- Windows 8. You can check out our look at the software right here, and even download it yourself if you're comfortable installing operating systems. The final version will be released at a later date; Microsoft isn't giving a specific timeframe.
But along with that, it has launched the Store, which will house all the apps available for the new touch-optimized software. The applications developed by lots of companies have been designed to match the look of the new Windows, with clean text, tiles and smooth horizontal scrolling. In the Consumer Preview all apps are free, although eventually there will be paid options.
I have played with a number of apps in the Store and they are impressive. The full-screen applications are full of eye candy and are fluid to navigate. Click through to see some of my favorites and what the future Windows apps look like.
Not to be confused with Cookbook, which is another app in the Store, iCookBook is a beautiful app with easy access to recipes. I prefer the layout of this application to the Cookbook option. There are delicious images of food and you can search by cuisine and occasion.
The USA Today has apps for lots of other platforms, including Apple's iOS and Android, but this one is particularly eye catching. You get a large story layout and you can swipe horizontally to view more of the story and full images. It's a really comfortable news-reading experience. There are other news apps in the Store as well, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
Sure, Microsoft has its own Music app where you can buy music or listen to songs or albums saved to your Windows 8 computer, but Slacker's streaming music service has its own app in the Store and it's a very welcome addition. I particularly like how you can scroll through to see popular channels. The entire thing is very sleek.
|Carmen Sandiego, Adventures in Math|
There are lots of new games included in the Store, but Carmen Sandiego Math is a real throw back for some of us. Unlike the version that used to run on Windows 95, this one is totally optimized for touch with puzzles that require rotating pieces on the screen. Other fun games in the store include HiveMind and Cut The Rope. (Note: You need to have a touchscreen to play a lot of these; a mouse and keyboard didn't work.)
There was a time where Microsoft was focused on the stylus with its Tablet PCs. Things have shifted to the finger in Windows 8, but SketchBook Express is a great app if you happen to love sketching and have a pen-supported tablet lying around. You can select a number of different brushes or writing tools and even import a picture and doodle over it.
|The Tower, by American Airlines|
A few travel apps are available in the Store, including Kayak, but The Tower is American Airline's unique, dedicated app. Just as its name says, you get put in a digital flight tower, where you can see the status of flights in different airports, the layout of the gates, etc. You can then dig in and see details about flights.