The 10 Best Free Windows 8 Apps For Work And Play

Lenovo Windows 8 thinkpad opened with keyboard

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

On Friday, Windows 8, the long-awaited new operating system from Microsoft, will be here.One key new feature: There’s a store from Microsoft where you can download apps, just like you do on smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft’s Windows 8 App Store is still pretty bare, but more apps are being added daily. We’ve scanned the early crop and picked the best ones, ranging from work productivity apps to some fun timewasters.

Box for cloud storage and collaboration

Windows 8 integrates with Microsoft's own cloud storage, SkyDrive. But if you are a Box user, the enterprise storage and collaboration service has a Windows 8 app ready to go which will sync files and give you access to other Box features.

Publisher: Box

Remote Desktop lets you access your PC over the Internet from anywhere

Need to tap into another Windows PC to grab a file? Want to watch a video stored on your kid's Windows PC? Microsoft's Remote Desktop app lets you do those things.

Publisher: Microsoft

Evernote lets you keep track of your life

Evernote is awesome for taking shorter notes--links, videos, to-do lists, photos, even grocery lists--and it can sync them between all of your devices--phone, tablets, and PCs. It even offers a paid service for transcribing audio files.

Some versions of Windows 8 come with the Office 13 suite, including an app called OneNote, which is fine for taking notes during meeting. But Evernote has it beat for keeping tabs on more kinds of information you want to remember.

Publisher: Evernote

Skitch lets you annotate anything

Need to mark up a photo? Annotate a PDF file? Draw something? Skitch is the app that lets you do it. It's made by the Evernote folks, so you can save files created with Skitch to Evernote, too.

Publisher: Evernote

Map shows you the way

We all need maps. Microsoft's Map app delivers including directions, traffic conditions, and lists of nearby stuff like restaurants and stores.

Publisher: Microsoft

Fresh Paint for drawing

If you like to draw, then you're going to want Fresh Paint--particularly if you bought a Windows 8 PC with an electronic pen like the Samsung Series 7.

Blend and mix colours, choose paint brush sizes or drawing pencils, and create beautiful art.

Publisher: Microsoft

StumbleUpon to explore the Web

StumbleUpon is more in the category of timesink than productivity enhancer. But its still a great way to discover random new things posted on the Web. Stumble through popular sites by category (tech gadgets, humour, news).

The Windows 8 app icon is active, too, meaning it's always updating to show you some cool new website on your Start menu.

Publisher: StumbleUpon

Free Books puts a classic library in your hands

Free Books lets you download titles from a library of over 23,000 books. It includes many of the classics, from the works of Shakespeare to Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Publisher: Spreadsong

Slacker Radio for personalised music

Slacker Radio offers millions of songs and lets you personalise the content with the click of a button. This app was optimised for Windows 8, so it sounds great.

Publisher: Slacker Inc.

SmartGlass lets you link Xbox with Windows 8

So far, the games out for Windows 8 are pretty unimpressive. But no matter: The real power of Windows 8 is in how well it integrates with Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. SmartGlass turns your Windows 8 tablet into a 'smart second screen' for your Xbox 360 console.

Publisher: Microsoft

Now that you have the apps, its time for the accessories ...

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