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TuneIn Radio

Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 marketplace may not have the sheer volume of app titles compared with its iOS and Android rivals. Still, that doesn't mean you can't find useful software for your Windows handset. Here's a list of applications I typically install first when I take a new WP8 device for a test-drive. I've included both staple software that I just can't live without plus a few newcomers to the platform to help add more spice to the Windows Phone experience.

Some of the very first apps I install on any new phone is either podcast software or an Internet radio tuner. Since Windows Phone 8 already has a decent podcast download function built right into its music app, I go straight for TuneIn Radio. TuneIn is my go-to radio app of choice. It's easy to use, reliable, and lets me listen to local or global Internet stations. The best part is: it's free.

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Sometimes it's the little things about an operating system that bug you most. For me it's having to drill down through various menu settings just to switch my phone's radio on and off. Download ConnectivityShortcuts from the WP8 Marketplace and forget all that hassle. This small app simply puts toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, and Airplane mode in one place on your Start screen.

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Amazon Kindle

I never thought this would happen to me but I've been spending more time reading e-books on cell phones. Whether on a crowded New York City subway train or around the house, the smaller size of a phone is often more convenient that reaching for a tablet or e-reader. Be sure to outfit your Windows Phone with e-book reading ability by downloading the Amazon Kindle app.

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It may seem like there are way too many social networking services to keep up with, but for business networking, there's still just one that counts. LinkedIn for Windows Phone 8 has a clean look and slick side-scrolling interface that showcases WP8's tile UI.

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Many phones come with proprietary to-do list software for tracking tasks, or worse lack it entirely. Evernote is a useful note-taking app that syncs to servers in the cloud plus works across many platforms such as Android and iOS mobile devices and PCs. Evernote can also record audio reminders and save photos to virtual notebooks for better planning.

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Ministry of Sound

Get your groove on big time with the Ministry of Sound app. This excellent application created by owners of the London dance club and record label of the same name, serves up music via live radio and virtual DJ sessions. The software also offers news and images from deep inside the MoS.

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Just like e-books, I'm amazed by how much time I spend (or waste) watching Netflix movies and TV programs on my phone. That's why I have to install the popular video service straight away on any handset I use for extended periods.

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To be honest, I'm not yet one of the growing legion of Spotify subscribers. That said, it seems that every week someone here at CNET or other random individual recommends the online music service. Now that Spotify has come to Windows Phone 8, the rapidly growing user base will likely gather even more steam.

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Weave News Reader

The Windows Phone 8 storefront may lack a big-name news readers such as Flipboard. But what the OS does exclusively have is Weave News Reader. Weave offers an engaging yet not busy magazine-style layout. You can also choose which news outlets or blogs to follow if you can't spot it within the software's curated topics lists.

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