For all its speedy touch-screen goodness, one of the biggest drawbacks of Windows 8 RT is that it doesn't let you install third-party programs through its desktop screen. Unlike the standard version of Windows 8, RT restricts you to first-party programs (made by Microsoft) through its desktop, but gives you free rein to install whatever you want through the Windows Store. The problem is that at this point the Windows Store is just too thin to make up for the loss of several popular third-party programs. Fortunately, we did a little research and found a few alternative apps that could help fill the void left by your missing faves.
With an official Spotify app nowhere to be found in the Windows Store, fans of the on-demand music service might find themselves disappointed. Enter Slacker Radio. With a free account, you can listen to programmed radio stations similar to Pandora's. But upgrade to a premium account, and you also get a rich on-demand listening experience that could prove to be a fantastic alternative to Spotify.
Twitter and Facebook still have yet to announce official apps for the new Windows desktop platform as well, so your best bet is to try FlipToast. This multifaceted social networking app lets you sign in to both Twitter and Facebook, as well as to LinkedIn and Instagram at the same time. From a single interface, you can read updates from all of these social services, and you can post updates to all but Instagram.
Some people chat using Google Talk, while others might use Yahoo Messenger or Facebook. For many Windows users, the solution to this fragmented chat landscape has always been a unified client like Trillian or Pidgin. The problem is, these apps aren't yet available for Windows RT. The good news is, IM+ is available, and it lets you sign in to more than a dozen different chat services. Its interface is incredibly sleek, and it even offers power features like photo sending and group chats.
With the Windows Explorer now buried on RT's desktop, some users might be looking for a way to manage files right from the touch-powered Start screen. If you're one of those users, check out Metro Commander. It offers a two-panel interface that makes it easy to find, move, delete, copy, and rename files, all using an interface that's optimized for touch screens. As you can imagine, this is particularly useful for those using RT on tablets.
Multimedia 8 is a serviceable alternative to the now missing Windows Media Player, as it can act as a hub for your photos, music, and videos. While RT certainly comes loaded with separate apps that can handle each of these media types, we're aware that some people might not enjoy toggling through them all. Multimedia 8 lets you view, listen to, and watch your media files, and even create playlists and trim videos.