Fresh apps for Windows 8

Has the imminent arrival of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 piqued your interest in a Windows 8 tablet? Great! Welcome to the fold. Grab a seat, and grab some of these great games and apps.

Keep in mind, this is just a list to get you started. And if you're already clicking or tapping away on a Windows 8 machine and find that your favorite app isn't on this list, let us know in the comments!

Updated:
Caption by: ,

News Bento (free)

On a tablet in particular, a news aggregation app is essential. And for an app experience, News Bento is tough to beat. Culled from an impressive variety of news sources, you can browse by the latest headlines or check your favorite categories and sites to get up-to-date info. Right when you launch the app, News Bento also runs through headlines so you can tap if you see a story that interests you.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Flipboard (free)

If you like your news aggregation a bit more social, Flipboard is finally here, having arrived on Windows 8 back in November.

The popular social media app lets you browse Twitter, Facebook, and a number of curated feeds from a gorgeous, touch-friendly interface. The app offers a live tile, too, so you can always keep an eye on your feeds.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Nate Ralph/CNET / Caption by: ,

Machinarium ($4.99)

There’s a reason this gorgeous game is never too far from any best games lists: Machinarium is simply brilliant. It harkens back to the days of point-and-click adventures -- you play a whimsical little robot journeying through a dilapidated world, solving puzzles and avoiding baddies. The game was originally designed for PCs and Macs, but it works just find on touchscreen devices, too.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Nate Ralph/CNET / Caption by: ,

Hulu Plus (free)

Of course, you'll want to use your Surface to stream television programs and music. So download Hulu Plus and start watching. After signing in, you access your picks from the Start Screen with an interface that's similar to what you get on the Web. What's more, you can swipe to browse shows and movies before launching them full screen. If you don't have a Hulu account but use Netflix, the Netflix Windows 8 app is a good alternative.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Metro Commander (free)

Windows 8.1 has gone a long way toward making the traditional Windows desktop we all know and love readily accessible again. But if you like the Start screen and want to manage your files in Metro, check out Metro Commander. The app 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 touchscreens.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Amazon Kindle (free)

If you have time to kill but want a more relaxed pursuit than TV, download the Amazon Kindle app and get reading. You'll have complete access to Amazon's library without having to buy an actual Kindle device, and you can pick up your books on any device (even if it's not Windows) with a Kindle app.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Skitch (free)

A combination organizational and communications tool, Skitch lets you crop your photos and screenshots and mark them with arrows, shapes, and text. Once you're done, you can export your creations to Evernote, which is an app you might as well download, too.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Halo: Spartan Assault ($4.99)

While I’m not exactly a first-person shooter savant, I’ll admit I’ve always have a soft spot for the incredulously popular space-opera that is Halo. Halo: Spartan Assault is something entirely different -- the game is a top-down shooter released exclusively for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. While it lacks the immersive punch of the first-person perspective, the game is no less exciting, coupling the Halo series’ frenetic pace with appealing visuals and plenty of familiar sights, sounds, and baddies.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Nate Ralph/CNET / Caption by: ,

Slacker Radio (free)

There are still no official Spotify or Pandora apps on the Windows Store, which is a bummer. Fortunately, Slacker Radio is here to help. Sign up for a free account to get radio stations similar to Pandora's. But upgrade to a premium account and you'll also get a rich on-demand listening experience that could prove to be a fantastic alternative.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Wikipedia (free)

Sure, Wikipedia has a website, but this app puts that avalanche of information right on your home screen. Like on the website, the app's first page shows featured articles, "on this day" content, and recent news. When reading an article, you swipe to the left to read more, an action that worked great on the touchscreen. The app displays photos, media content, and everything else you'd expect, but you also get a button to view the same page on the actual site.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Songza (free)

It’s Monday morning: are you in the mood for something gentle to nudge you out of bed? Or maybe you’re already hard at work and need something lively (but lacking lyrics) to keep you focused -- Songza has you covered. This music-streaming app generates playlists based on your mood -- instead of specific songs or artists, like “traditional” streaming apps. The list of playlists the app offers will (hopefully) be just right for your mood.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Fresh Paint (free)

Painting programs have long been a part of computing life, but they really came into their own with touchscreen devices. So even if you don't need something to distract your kids, you should have one, too. Fresh Paint has a great-looking and intuitive palette with several tools and canvas types on which to paint your masterpiece. If you prefer kicking it old school, there's always MS Paint.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Skulls of the Shogun ($4.99)

Like Halo: Spartan Assault, Skulls of the Shogun is available on Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices (as well as Xbox Live and iOS). Unlike Spartan Assault, Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game that makes no pretense of being serious, or even logical. You play an undead samurai general who -- frustrated with the lack of deference he’s getting in the afterlife -- stages something like a coup, bringing war to the underworld.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,

Adobe Photoshop Express (free)

Previously restricted to iOS and Android devices, Adobe Photoshop Express’ Windows 8 incarnation brings the simple image-editing tools to Microsoft’s touch-friendly OS. It’s a bit basic -- you’re given simple photo-editing tools, and a handful of filters if you’re feeling fancy. But it’s free, and it can be useful in a pinch.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET / Caption by: ,

Mint (free)

Mint has proven for years to be an excellent service for keeping an eye on your finances, and its dedicated apps are no different. Once you’ve linked all of your banking information, Mint will offer a concise view of where your money is and where it’s going. Spending can be divvied up into categories -- so you’ll know exactly how much you spent on electronics last month -- and you can also configure alerts that’ll send you alerts about any abnormal spending.

Updated:
Photo by: Windows Store / Caption by: ,
Hot Galleries

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.

Hot Products