Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system is the current gold standard for PCs (at least until Windows 10 comes natively loaded on machines). Windows 8.1 is known for its emphasis on a touch interface, combined with a flat, clean visual design that looks stunning on tablet interfaces. It's also the go-to for 2-in-1 hybrids, laptops and desktop computers. Regardless of what device you're using, however, it's only as good as what you can do with it. From music players and news readers to games and social networking tools, here are our 25 favorite Windows apps.
Flipboard takes the idea behind classic feed readers and gives it a highly visual, magazine-like spin. Simply subscribe to a variety of categories or your favorite websites, and Flipboard presents you with a personalized magazine filled with the content you're looking for. Flipboard allows you to add your own newsfeed content, as well as browse through custom reading lists made up by other Flipboard users. In addition to news stories and articles, you can connect Flipboard to your favorite social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in order to view your social media streams from within the app.
VLC has a great reputation for being an all-in-one media player that will play just about anything you throw at it with minimal fuss and maximum configurability. Now that same audiovisual excellence comes to Windows 8.1 machines with VLC for Windows 8, which brings the Modern UI to the VLC experience. Like its desktop version, VLC for Windows 8 will play just about anything you throw at it, from audio to video files, as well as trickier formats such as OGG, FLAC and MKV. While desktop purists are likely to stick with the classic VLC, Windows users looking for a great media player that also fits the Modern aesthetic have a great option available to them.
An increasingly popular phone messaging app with more than 500 million users, Viber also features a Windows client for tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. The Viber app allows users to send text, audio, video and photo messages to other users worldwide free over Wi-Fi or a 3G network. Viber does away with cumbersome logins, instead using your smartphone number as your ID, which is both the draw and something of a weakness with Viber, as you do need a smartphone to set things up before syncing the desktop app.
iFixIt turns your Windows 8 device into an all-in-one repair manual for a variety of electronics, appliances and more. iFixIt includes repair and teardown guides for numerous categories of devices, from cars and trucks to smartphones, tablets and common household appliances and furniture. iFixIt's guides take you through the process of breaking open devices, diagnosing problems and even making repairs and part replacements. Users can browse by category or device model, check out featured guides, and even create and upload their own teardown or repair guides straight from the app. If you don't have the parts or tools you need, the app helpfully includes links to iFixIt's own online store.
Wolfram Alpha is more than just a search engine. The app's computational knowledge is a wizard when it comes to answering questions about a variety of fields of knowledge, from mathematics, statistics, physics and earth sciences. If you're looking for the answer to a question covered under the hard sciences, Wolfram Alpha is a fantastic tool for finding the right answer and learning more about the field.
The Flixster Windows 8 app is your all-in-one stop for everything you want to know about the latest blockbuster movies. The Flixster app allows users to check out the latest movie trailers, look up movie showtimes in nearby theaters, order tickets, and brush up on the latest movie reviews provided by Rotten Tomatoes. In addition, users can also stream full movies from their UltraViolet collection.
Gameloft is among the mobile developers consistently releasing their latest hits to Windows 8 touchscreen devices and desktops, and the latest incarnation of their action RPG series Dungeon Hunter is no exception. Dungeon Hunter 5 picks up where the previous game left off, with players taking the role of bounty hunters attempting to reunify the shattered land of Valenthia in the wake of a demon invasion. In addition to the single-player game, players can also engage in fortress raids, attacking other players' strongholds in order to gain gold and loot. Dungeon Hunter 5 is free-to-play, but if timers and premium currencies don't deter you, it's a solid mobile action-RPG romp.