Best Windows 10 apps

One of the principal benefits of Windows 10 is having a single, homogeneous app library that works across all your devices, including your Windows Phone, PC and Xbox.

However, as Windows 10 for Phones is still some months from release, this facet of the Windows 10 platform has time yet before it comes into its own.

However, this doesn’t mean that your new Windows 10 computer is going to be bereft of apps; far from it. Paradoxically, one of the major changes for Windows 10 is that many aspects haven’t changed.

While there have been some shake-ups in the way apps are presented and laid out, the fact remains that Windows 8 apps are still fully compatible with Windows 10.

Rather than having to write an entirely new version of their app for the new platform, developers can just stick with the old version, and update it with Windows 10 functionality as they go along.

This means that the vast majority of popular apps on Windows 10 are going to be largely identical to their Windows 8.1 counterparts.

There are already a large selection of apps and desktop programs for you to start using with Windows 10, and we’ve rounded up the best offering available on day one. This list will be updated with new entries, as the Windows 10 library continues to grow.

Best Windows 10 apps: Get Started

A handy guide for new users, Get Started uses slideshows and video tutorials to walk you through the new platform.

It’s a useful feature considering the new OS was only released in July 2015, and represents quite a departure from operating systems like Windows 7, which many are more familiar with.

Just type Get Started into the search bar to pull up the app, and scroll through the tabs on the left to pick a feature you want to learn about.

Best Windows 10 apps: Microsoft Edge

In terms of Killer apps, Microsoft Edge is the new big-ticket item. Replacing Internet Explorer as the default Windows browser, Microsoft has put a lot of effort into sprucing up Edge for the new, internet-centric generation.

One of the most obvious changes is a new visual design, which blends the sparse, stripped-down appearance of Windows 8’s touch-optimised Internet Explorer with the added utility seen in rivals like Chrome and Firefox, along with unique annotation tools.

Elsewhere, it’s sporting a built-in Pocket or Instapaper-syle reading list, which allows you to save interesting articles for later perusal. There’s also a new Reading View, which breaks down and reformats the page to give a basic, uncluttered view of whatever article you’re reading.

As a default browser, it’s a massive step up from Internet Explorer, and Microsoft now has a viable rival to other companies’ more impressive offerings.

Best Windows 10 apps: Uber

Uber has arrived on Windows 10 PCs thanks to the Universal Windows Platform, which lets developers build an app that works across different types of devices.

You can pinpoint your location on your desktop app to request a driver to pick you up, or, if you’re too busy, you can just request Cortana to request a cab for you, by saying: “Hey Cortana, get me an uberX to [name an address here]”.

If you’re already working on your Windows 10 device, it means there’s no need to pull out your phone to book a ride.

Additionally by pinning the app to your Start menu, Uber will count down the estimated time of arrival of your taxi.

Best Windows 10 apps: OneNote

As one of the comparatively recent additions to the Office stable, OneNote is often – unfairly – overlooked as a basic note-taking tool. In reality, it can have a surprising amount of functionality outside this.

There’s a full suite of drawing tools for use with touchscreens and styluses, so you can handwrite notes as well as type them. In addition to this, you can also record audio via your device microphone and link it to specific sections of your notes for easy reference.

Be warned though – the desktop Office 2013 version of OneNote is the one to go for. The app version that comes preinstalled with many Windows machines has its uses, but it’s severely lacking in functionality compared to its big brother.

Best Windows 10 apps: Cortana

Microsoft’s answer to the recent wave of digital assistants like Siri and Google Now, Cortana is now built into Windows 10 on desktops. Like all DAs, it works best in conjunction with a paired phone on the same ecosystem, but Cortana is still useful even if you’re on Android or iOS.

By default, Cortana appears as a search box just next to the start button on the taskbar. From there, you can search your computer and the internet, just like in Windows 8. However, Cortana will also organise your appointments, giving you context-sensitive reminders based on time, place or contacts.

Through machine learning, Cortana utilises your search history and other data to learn more about your likes and dislikes, building an intelligent profile of what to suggest to you in its notebook.

Naturally, it’s got voice-activation options – via the ‘hey Cortana’ keyphrase – and Microsoft claims that it can understand more natural speech patterns than competitors. It’s a useful tool purely on desktop, but it’ll be a downright essential once Windows 10 arrives on phones.

Best Windows 10 apps: Twitter Moments

Twitter updated its Windows 10 app in December 2015 to include Moments, a feature that enables you to see the highest trending stories of the day.

Moments lets you browse conversations, video clips and pictures to check out the latest news relevant to you, and when you find a subject that piques your interest, you can follow it, with Twitter curating the best tweets about it to send to your feed.

Best Windows 10 apps: Microsoft Word Mobile

Most people may be more familiar with its full-fat Office cousin, but unlike OneNote, the app version of Microsoft Word is actually our favourite of the two.

Like with all the mobile-friendly Office apps, Word is a lot more slimmed down compared to the desktop version. However, while this means a loss of functionality for many apps, for word it actually results in a much more streamlined experience.

Some of the more fine-grained control is gone, but all the core options and elements remain intact. Font and paragraph options are present and correct, as well as change tracking and media insertion tools.

For the day-to-day needs of most users, the Word app is a perfect lightweight document editor, with a clean layout and a great set of cloud syncing tools to boot.

Best Windows 10 apps: Xbox

Consider this a must-have for any Xbox gamer. Through the Xbox app, Windows 10 now includes functionality for streaming games from an Xbox One directly to a PC, without the need for a high-end processor or graphics card.

Gamers no longer need to be confined to the bedroom or living room while playing their favourite games. Streaming to a Windows 10 laptop, games can be taken anywhere, as long as you’re within range of your home WiFi network.

The app can also be used to capture game footage through the Game DVR system, then browsed and uploaded remotely. Acting as a Facebook-esque social hub for all your gaming activity, the Xbox app is a real leap forward for cross-platform support.

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