Best Free Antivirus: Windows Defender vs. Avast

Best free antivirus head to head

Windows 8 ships with a new version of Windows Defender that’s supposed to offer the same level of protection as Microsoft Security Essentials. Along with other security upgrades, we’re left wondering if there’s any reason to saddle up with a third-party antivirus program. To find out, we compared Windows Defender with Avast, which as we discovered in last month’s antivirus roundup is a formidable ally to have by your side as you romp around the web.


Round 1: Interface

There’s a lot going on in Avast, so much, in fact, that you might not even notice that it doesn’t scan for potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) by default, a setting we recommend enabling as an added ounce of protection (which, as you know, is worth a pound of cure). To get the most out of Avast, there’s an initial time investment required to poke around all the settings and tweak everything just the way you want it. In stark contrast to Avast, Windows Defender takes a minimalist approach with an interface that’s extremely straightforward and dead simple to navigate. There are just four headings to browse—Home, Update, History, and Settings—none of which tries to upsell you on security; Avast does. In this instance, simplicity gets the nod, and so does Windows Defender.

Winner: Windows Defender

Windows Defender doesn’t integrate scheduled scanning into its UI. For that, you need to invoke the Windows Task Scheduler.


Round 2: Features

Whereas Windows Defender is super simple to navigate, it comes at the expense of an expansive feature-set. There’s very little in the way of fine-grain control, limiting most of what you can do to including/excluding certain file types and locations, and whether or not you want to scan removable drives. You can’t even schedule a scan, at least not through the traditional UI. To do that, you need to open up the Windows Task Scheduler and configure it through there. That’s lame. Avast, on the other hand, offers a much bigger toolbox. The “AutoSandbox” feature alone, which automatically isolates suspicious programs from the OS, wins this category for Avast. There’s also a remote assistance feature for troubleshooting family and friends who are running Avast, plus browser plugins, and more.

Winner: Avast

Avast is chock-full of settings and provides excellent real-time protection, no matter where the threats come from.

Avast is chock-full of settings and provides excellent real-time protection, no matter where the threats come from.


Round 3:  Scan Speed

Windows Defender uses the same pokey scan engine as Microsoft Security Essentials, and since there’s no easy way to schedule scans, it’s even more problematic. Running a full system scan with 30GB of data on a solid-state drive took 20 minutes with Windows Defender, and subsequent scans took just as long. That’s an indication that Windows Defender doesn’t skip over files that haven’t changed since the last time they were processed. Avast clocked five minutes and nine seconds to scan the same data, and though it also didn’t get any quicker during subsequent scans, it’s still significantly faster than Windows Defender. Plus, you can easily schedule scans in Avast to run during times when you’re not sitting at your PC, such as after-work hours (assuming you leave your PC on 24/7).

Winner: Avast


Round 4: Performance Impact

Good news for both programs. If you’re rocking a solid-state drive with Windows 8 on a relatively modern machine, you’re unlikely to notice a performance impact with either Windows Defender or Avast installed. We slapped a 120GB Kingston SSDNow V300 drive onto an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with an Intel Core i7-930 processor, 4GB of DDR3/1333 RAM, and a Radeon HD 5850 graphics card. Boot times were virtually unaffected, with Avast introducing a startup penalty of just a few seconds. On the flip side, we recorded 4,035 in PCMark 7 with Avast installed versus 4,011 with Windows Defender. If this were a presidential race, it’d be too close to call. Subjectively, surfing the web and opening up programs felt equally snappy regardless of which AV program was running.

Winner: Tie


Round 5: Protection

Windows Defender needed to pull out a win in this round to keep the race interesting, but it doesn’t have the legs to compete with Avast. Using our own collection of malware, Avast detected twice as many dirty files as Windows Defender, though that might have to do with the way each program counts individual files within an infected archive. In both cases, Malwarebytes detected infections that both Windows Defender and Avast missed. However, Avast is better at detecting zero-day threats and adds a second layer of protection through its automatic sandbox mode, which Windows Defender lacks. Finally, we’re a little wary given that Microsoft’s antimalware engine is having trouble passing certification with AV-Test (, a well-known independent testing laboratory. All things considered, this crucial round goes to Avast.

Winner: Avast

And the Winner Is…

Avast wins this bout by taking three of the five categories and tying in another, though it’s not quite as lopsided as it appears. Windows Defender, while not as fully featured as Avast, is capable of blocking common threats, and it doesn’t put a drain on system resources. Avast’s army of defenses is just bigger and better trained to spot danger from more places, like IM clients. It also has a bigger arsenal of weapons.

Source :

How to Disable Windows 8 Defender Before Installing a Different Antivirus Software

Windows 8 comes with an built-in antivirus called the Windows Defender. Windows Defender is nothing but the free antivirus of Microsoft called the Microsoft Security Essentials clubbed with the Defender of Windows 7.
Microsoft claims that Windows defender is sufficient for a home computer where mere basic protection is required, but I personally don’t like it. Though the detection rate of the product is quite good, the removal rate is pathetic (yes, there I said it!). It took the tool precisely 2 mins and 33 seconds to clean an EICAR test virus file and the amount of resources it required to do that was too much.

windows defender

I am in no way encouraging you to stop using Windows Defender. It is totally your call.

Now the thing is that you cannot install two antivirus software on a computer as they never work together (almost all of them conflict with each other) and thus if you are planning to install a 3rd party security solution on your Windows 8 system, you will need to first uninstall/disable the Windows Defender that’s natively present on the OS.
Uninstalling defender is very tough as it’s coded to the core but we can disable it to keep the things rolling.

Disabling Windows 8 Defender Using Services

Disabling the Defender using Windows Services is pretty simple.
Step 1: Launch the Start Menu and search for Services under the Settings tab and click on View local services to launch Windows Services.

local service

Step 2:
Look for the service name Windows Defender Service and stop it by right-clicking it.


Step 3:
Now double-click on the same service to open the Property window and select disable in the Startup Type dropdown list and save the settings.

services disabled

Your Windows 8 defender will now be disabled permanently, and you can go ahead and install a different antivirus now.

disabled defender

Disabling Using Windows Defender

For those of you who love to keep things simple, you can disable Windows Defender from its inbuilt settings.
Step 1: Launch Windows Defender. The best way is to launch Start Menu and search for Defender.

turn off

Step 2:
Navigate to Settings tab in the Defender and click on the Administrator section. Here uncheck the option Turn on Windows Defender and save the settings.

turned off

Your Defender will be disabled instantly. If you want to enable Windows Defender protection in the future you can do that from the Windows Action Center.
If you are looking for an antivirus that will work great on your Windows 8 computer, I have a nice suggestion. Kaspersky, a leading antivirus solution provider, has already launched their consumer preview of Kaspersky Antivirus 2013 compatible with Windows 8. You may install and try it for free.


And now how to shut down Windows Defender or turn it on....

To Turn Off Windows Defender in Windows 8

1. Open the Control Panel (icons view), and click/tap on the Windows Defender icon.

2. In Windows Defender, click/tap on the Settings tab, Administrators in left pane, uncheck the Turn on Windows Defender box, and on Save Changes. (see screenshot below)

Click image for larger version

3. If prompted by UAC, then click/tap on Yes.

4. You will now notice the message from Action Center notification area icon letting you know that Widows Defender has been turned off. (see screenshot below)
NOTE: If you click on this message balloon while open, it will turn on Windows Defender again.

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5. Click/tap on Close. (see screenshot below)

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To Turn On Windows Defender in Windows 8

NOTE: This is the default setting.

1. Do step 2 or 3 below for what you would like to do.

2. Click/tap on the Action Center icon in the taskbar notification area, click/tap on either one of the Turn on spyware protection or Turn on virus protection links, and go to step 4 below. (see screenshot below)

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3. Open the Control Panel (icons view), and click/tap on the Action Center icon.

A) Click tap on the Turn on now buttons for either one of the Virus protection or Spyware and unwanted software protection messages, close Action Center, and go to step 4 below. (see screenshot below)

Click image for larger version

Note   Note
If you do not have the Virus protection or Spyware and unwanted software protection messages in Action Center like above, then:

A) Expand Security, and click/tap on both the Turn on messages about virus protection and Turn on messages about spyware and unwanted software protection links like below to see them.

Click image for larger version

4. Windows Defender will now open with it's security status as green to let you know that both Windows Defender and real-time protection has been turned on. (see screenshot below)

Click image for larger version

That's it,



The Top 30 Best Windows 8 Apps - 2 Articles

Below are two articles providing their picks for the top 30 Windows 8 apps. I've added 3 of my favorites that were not mentioned. Enjoy.


This app was only recently released around the time Windows 8.1 was made available. Its interface is immediately familiar to Facebook users and is a great way to work with the social network.
Viewing shared photos on a Windows tablet is particularly enjoyable.
The app runs fast and fluidly on touch screens. Toast (pop-up) notifications and live tile updates are both supported to help keep users informed of friends' updates.
Free on the Microsoft Store

Windows Mail in Windows 8.1

The Mail app shipped with original Windows 8.0 was particularly bad, especially for Gmail users. That's all changed with Windows 8.1, as it includes a nicely updated Mail app.
The user interface and functionality of the app is good for all Windows 8.1 users, and the Gmail experience is vastly improved, too. It's not as full-featured as a dedicated Gmail app would be, but it's possible to do almost anything that can be done on a dedicated Gmail app.
Included in Windows 8.1

IM+. One app, all your messaging.

IM+ supports all major IM services, including Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, Skype chat, Google Talk, AOL/AIM/iChat, Yahoo!, ICQ, Vkontakte, Mail.Ru Agent, Odnoklassniki, Yandex chat, Mamba.Ru, Mig33, SINA Weibo, Renren, Fetion, Gadu-Gadu, MeinVZ and Jabber.

IM+ features text messages and photo sending, supports group chats in Skype, AIM and ICQ, allows to add multiple accounts per service, lets you show your mood with personal status messages and customize application appearance, supports typing notifications and we're not done yet, new IM+ features will keep coming!

Follow @implus on Twitter and Like to get the latest updates from IM+ team!

IM+ uses your personal data to login to your instant messaging accounts. You will be prompted to authorize IM+ to use your personal data upon app launch.
Show more


  • support for all popular instant messaging services
  • free text messages and photo sending
  • group chats
  • multiple accounts per service
  • typing notififcations
  • personal status messages

The Top 30 Best Windows 8 Apps - PCMAG.COM

Now with over 100,000 apps in the Windows Store, there are actually some good choices. Here are the top apps we think you should install on your Windows 8 PC.

With the launch of Windows 8.1 just a month away and a new Surface tablet coming even before that, on September 19, it's time to take stock of where Microsoft's new operating system stands when it comes to app selection. The news has been pretty positive, with the benchmark of 100,000 apps having been surpassed on July 1.

Some marquee names have joined the flock of the best Windows 8 apps, including Twitter, Vevo, Foursquare, Rockmelt, Rhapsody, and OpenTable. We're still waiting for a couple of major entries, to wit, Facebook and Flipboard—Luckily, these will become available at Windows 8.1's public launch on October 18, along with a bunch of much-needed updates to the operating system itself and an more usable updated store for getting the apps.
Don't forget that Windows 8 (and 8.1) still runs nearly all of the millions of applications programmed for Windows over the past decade and a half—in its desktop mode—though that doesn't apply to ARM-based Windows RT tablets. The new class of apps, formerly called "Metro" but now simply called Windows 8 apps, are full-screen, touch friendly programs can connect both to the Web, to each other through "contracts," and to features of Windows 8 itself, such as the Search and Share charms.
You get the new-style apps from the new Windows Store—Microsoft's equivalent of the iTunes App Store—which automates installation and updating, and gives both users and developers a central place to discover new and needed software. It's true that the Windows Store has a ways to go to catch up in number with the more than 300,000 iPad apps available in Apple's iTunes App store. But according to the excellent site, MetroStore Scanner, there are currently over 115,000 Windows 8 apps, with hundreds being added every day.
As with any app store (Android's in particular), a good many of these are no better than chaff, and many are country specific, though over 83,000 of them are for US English speakers. Just as with those other app stores, some gems appear among the muck. The good news? Most of the top apps we include here are completely free. Some have in-app purchases, but even apps that cost money often offer trial versions—something not available in Apple's App Store. Most of these apps run on both Windows RT tablets, and all run on full Windows 8 Pro systems like the Microsoft Surface Pro and standard laptops and desktops.

The redesigned Windows Store gives you help in separating the app gold from the silt. In addition to the store's highlighted staff pick's section for new and noteworthy apps, each app's page in the store includes user ratings and reviews. You can also browse the list the top paid, top free, and newly released entries, both overall and in sections like Games, Social, Entertainment, Photo, Music and Video, News and Weather, Lifestyle, Productivity, Security, Business, and more.

Whatever your software needs, we think you'll get more out of your Windows 8 PC experience by installing these 30 apps, but they're not the last word—there are a number of important ones we don't include here. What we wanted to do for this first list was to assemble a collection of apps that can make your Windows 8 PC or tablet productive, creative, and informative. You won't find any of the excellent default apps you get with Windows 8 here—the People, Mail, Photos, Music, Video, News, Games (really a game center), Bing, and SkyDrive. Nor will you find that most useful of all apps, Microsoft Office, since it's a desktop, rather than a new-style Windows 8 app.

You can either navigate our list via the 30 Best Windows 8 Apps slideshow above or page through this article for five at a time. We've linked the app names to their Windows Store descriptions and download page, or, if we've reviewed the app, we've linked to our more-detailed review. Don't hesitate to leave comments below if you feel that our selections are dead-on or if we've overlooked worthy candidates. And don't forget to check out the links below for even more Windows 8 coverage.

Halo: Spartan Assault

Halo has long been one of the legends of first-person shooter video games, and PCMag's Samara Lynn thought well enough of this sequal to award it a 4 out of 5 rating. You don't need to have ever played the game's previous versions to enjoy this one: Its gorgeous graphics and fun, touch-based gameplay will draw you in. The music is quite impressive, too, not the typical low-budget canned electro stuff. You do have to buy credits if you want certain weapons and armament upgrades. Weekly and mission-specific challenges keep the game fresh, but it can be tricky to master the shooting and moving gestures.


Even if you're not going to win American Chef Idol, or whatever the latest cooking game reality show is called, Allrecipe can be an invaluable friend in the kitchen. It gives you ideas for proven successful recipes, or lets you choose what to cook based on what ingredients you have on hand. You get step-by-step instructions, along with nutrition information. The companion Allrecipes Video cookbook app could be an even better fit for those who need more handholding or for trickier techniques.


When you're fetching around for a movie to watch—one that you actually might enjoy—there's no better solution than Flixster. The Windows 8 app from this cinematic informer is well-designed, letting you view playing and upcoming flicks and DVDs by current box office hits, local theater showings. One of the best things about the app is that it uses the very reliable Rotten Tomatoes ratings, which are a pretty good indication of whether the film is a dud or a dream. Each movie's page also shows the synopsis, cast, journalist reviews, and trailer playing. One downside was that tickets for most movies can't be purchased through the app. Another is the lack of Ultraviolet integration.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an education in a tablet—not a pill: I'm talking about your Windows 8 tablet. The organization behind this app has as its goal to offer "a free world-class education for anyone anywhere". You can also watch the thousands of course videos on a desktop PC, covering Math, Science, Economics and Finance, and Humanities. Each of these general topics is broken down into several sub-topics to get you to your specific area of interest or need, with several videos available below yet another, more specific level of topics. For example, you could learn from 12 videos about Chemical reactions. You can download videos to your local device. Literature content seemed lacking, but there are other special talks and interviews in addition to the course work.

comiXology Comics

Comixology is the de facto comic app, with over 40,000 comics and graphic novels from publishers such as Marvel, DC, Dynamite Entertainment, and more. The app starts you out in its featured new releases section, and there are quick links to categories like collection, kids, free, top rated. You can see books that release the same day as print, and digital firsts. You will need to register for an account (which requires credit card info) if you don't already have one, and most hot books cost $3.99 or $2.99, while extended graphic novels can cost up to $19.99. The comics looked beautiful on my Surface Pro, and the Guided View, which lets the story unfold as you tap, has a definite leg up on traditional paper comics.


This one is a no brainer. If you want to visit with Grandma without crossing state or national lines, there's no better choice of app and service. When you first run Skype, it will ask permission to use your webcam and to run in the background. It's full-screen view of your video-call partner and good use of the Windows 8 touch interface and notifications are a great start, but you don't get some Skype for desktop features like multi-party calling and screen sharing. With Windows 8.1 comes a great new capability: you can answer calls from notifications on the lock screen without having to log in to the PC.



No tablet platform is complete without a Twitter app. Windows 8's included People app does show you Twitter (and Facebook updates), but it's not as useful as Twitter's own app for other platforms like the iPad. Twitter fans now can take advantage of a native app on Windows 8, and it's a good one, even offering capabilities not found on other platforms. For example, you can tweet through it from any other app via the Share charm. It also shows a "collage" of tweets or of photos from tweets. And you can pin it to the side of your screen to see your live Twitter updates.


Audible is a godsend for those of us weary-eyed folk who spend all day staring at a computer monitor. When I get home, I love to read, but being read to instead helps save the old orbs. This book-reading app from is simplicity itself. After signing in, you can browse the extensive catalog of audiobooks—from Tina Fey's hilarious bestseller Bossypants to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. You can preview a healthy selection of titles for free, too. There are a couple drawbacks, though: The app doesn't uses the standard Windows 8 Search Charm, and you only get three categories on the main page to browse, and to search, you need to open the sidebar, which is really just a collapsed webpage.


Free (requires subscription)
If you're one of Netflix's 30-plus million subscribers, you'll be happy to know that Windows 8 and RT allow you to get your movie and TV show fix. The app's home page show the 10 ten for you, New Releases, and Genres options, and you can scroll through thumbnail piles of your Instant Queue, Top 10, Popular on Netflix, New Releases, Recently Added, and any of the genres you've shown a predilection for. Clicking on a thumbnail brings up the movie page, which is informative and interactive, letting you rate, play, and see who starred in it. While playing a movie, you can use the app bar to pause, scrub, change volume, or disable/enable subtitles if available.

Hulu Plus

Keeping for a moment with our television theme, for serious couch potatoes who want to keep up with the latest TV shows, or maybe just for active folks who want entertainment on their own schedules, the Hulu Plus app does the trick. It's as well designed as the Netflix app, but it offers more up-to-date television content. Hulu also throws in a decent selection of full-length feature films, if you're a subscriber. You get everything you expect from the service, the ability to view your queue, personalized recommendations, and all the popular genres and trending shows.
Angry Birds Star Wars

The latest version of Rovio's breakout hit Angry Birds series is available on pretty much every mobile platform, and it's sure to please fans of the feathered pig-smashers. During the game, you'll head out on an intergalactic journey across the deserts of Tatooine all the way to the depths of the Pig Star. Along the way, you'll use the Force, and wield a Lightsaber in your quest to blast away the Pigtroopers and take down the evil Darth Vader, "Dark Lord of the Pigs." This one is sure to tickle Star Wars fans as well as inveterate Angry Bird players. If you're not all caught up on the series, you can also get Angry Birds Space.

Bejewelled Live

Bejeweled Live

$4.99. 10 levels free.
One of the most addictive and enjoyable time-killers on record now comes to Windows 8. A free trial gives you 10 levels to play with. The "Live" means its equivalent to the Xbox Live version, which is basically Bejeweled 3. The free version entitles you to play only the Classic mode, while the purchased version lets you engage in Butterflies and Diamond Mine modes, too, and lets you accumulate Acheivements.

Flow Free

If you're a city dweller, you've likely seen people playing this game of connecting colored dots with meandering lines. There's a reason: Flow Free presents a rewarding puzzle in increasingly challenging patterns. Once you've exhausted all the levels in the free version, you can unlock all extra packs for $4.99 or individual packs for $1.99 and $2.49. This will also remove the ads that appear along the bottom of the game board.

Where's My Perry

Back in the realm of amusement, Where's My Perry, from Disney Studios, is very fun indeed. It's great use of touch input to manipulate a sewery world of water puzzles from which your goal is to extract the cute top hat-donning platypus from Phineas and Ferb. Just beware of evil villain Dr. Doofenshmirtz's lasers, and collect as many gnomes as you can along the way.

Fresh Paint

If you're running Windows 8 on a touch tablet, there's no better demonstration of the cool types of things you can do with multitouch. Five simultaneous fingers are supported, and you can actually mix new colors on a virtual palette. If you'd rather not start with a blank canvas, "packs" of line drawings and cartoons can get you started. The Fun Pack is free, but the more artistic Variety Pack is a $1.49 in-app purchase, and the Adventure Pack, with its 24 character sketches and Friends Pack of mostly pets cost $1.99 each.

Of course, you can just start finger or mouse painting on a blank page or a photo of your own, with a good variety of brush and pencil tips. You also choose among a dozen canvas and paper textures. Once you're done, you can export your masterpiece to a PNG file, or even use the Share charm to send it to any apps that can share to email, social networks, and more. This is a surprisingly polished app, but it's one that's been around since the early days of Windows 8 prereleases. What's most impressive is that the paint is just so real looking.
Facebook+ Lite

You can get some of its functionality in the OS's built-in People app, but there's no official client app. Quite a few Facebook apps are available in the Windows Store, but we consider Facebook+ Lite even better than some of the competition you'd have to pay for, which often simply look like nothing more than the social network's website, rather than adding any tablet conveniences. Facebook Touch uses a Windows 8-new-style interface with big buttons and swiping gestures to navigate your news feed, photos, friends, messages, notifications, and events. Its Start menu tile shows your important contacts' latest updates. And it lets you upload photos via the Share charm from the default Photos app.


Yes, there's now an official Twitter app for Windows 8 and the platform's own included People app does show you Twitter (and Facebook updates). But Rowi will appeal to those who prefer its very clear three column view, with a huge space for the tweet you're viewing in the center. On the left you choose whether to view newsfeed, interactions, directs, and favorites. On the right you see your images and can switch to trending topics. The app also makes good use of the Share charm from other apps to post tweets, and pops up notifications for new tweets.

USA Today

Of course you could just browse news sites on your Windows 8 PC's web browser, and there are apps for many leading large papers, but USAToday stands out for having created a well-designed, reasonably rich, touch-friendly news app. You scroll through sections for News, Sports, Life, Money, Tech, and Travel, each with buttons to call up relevant photos, videos, and "snapshots" or infographics. For Sports and Money, sections are added for scores and markets. Your local temperature and weather icon appear at top right, and clicking this opens a map and ten day or hourly temperature and precipitation forecasts.

The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel

Just as with the iPhone and iPad's, Windows 8's built-in Weather app is not bad—but why not get your sun and rain report straight from the source? The Weather Channel's app lets you see conditions hour by hour or over the next 10 days. You also get maps and videos, as well as warning messages for severe weather conditions.  Add to that wind speed, humidity, sunrise and set times, visibility, atomospheric pressure, and UV index—you can see, it's the full package. You can even watch a 60-second video report for your area.


With the Super Bowl just behind us, you many wonder why we include a sports app. In fact, you could get by with the included Bing Sports app, which is surprisingly good. But this one comes from the ultimate authority on high-paid play. Sports-related news pieces, scores, videos, photos, and podcasts are at your fingertips with the ESPN Windows 8 app. As with the built-in Sports app, ESPN lets you pin your favorite teams to the Start menu, where you'll see scores and headlines for your clubs. This one is really everything you need to get your fandom on.

In truth, I'm a Nook user, but I know there are plenty of Kindle users out there who would feel highly put out by a platform with no app for reading their chosen ebook flavor. Kindle for Windows 8 shows large color thumbnails of your book covers in Library view in Cloud and Device sections, the latter for titles you've already downloaded. True to Kindle form, the app supports WhisperSync so that the current page your reading shows up on any device. You can change font size, background colors, and column number, and you can highlight, bookmark, and write notes. Double-clicking a word brings up its definition. Thankfully, Amazon has added the ability to buy new books from within the app, but not periodicals.


Microsoft's investment in Nook has finally paid off in the form of a Windows 8 app. As I mentioned above, I prefer Nook to Amazon's ereader ecosystem, and the Windows 8 store ratings give Barnes & Nobles a slight edge when it comes to Windows 8 apps. The interface is extremely well designed, intuitive, and capable. All the font and navigation options you get on the nook device itself are here. And unlike the Kindle app, in addition to the over 3 million nook books (a million of them free) you can browse and buy new magazine and newspaper issues as well as books right from within the app.


I was originally planning to include Evernote here, but while that service's Windows 8 app does let you view, tag, search, and add notes, it's pretty primitive compared with the OneNote Windows 8 app. Unlike the rest of Microsoft Office , OneNote is not a desktop application, but instead offers apps for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, and Windows Phone, so you're covered when it comes to devices. An insertion wheel lets you add a table, tag, photo, list, or paste to your note. I use this app to take notes at all my vendor meetings, and since I log into the same Microsoft account as on my Windows 8 machine, all my notes were available. I could even play my recording of the meetings, but playback wasn't linked to text as it is in the desktop version.


Also the productivity veering on business vein, Box (formerly is an increasingly popular tool for collaboration on work files. It integrates with and Google Docs, and lets users share online "workspaces." It also lets users assign tasks, post comments, and can notify you when a document involving you has been edited or commented on. With Box, anyone can get 5GB of free online synced storage, and apps are available for all the major mobile and desktop OSes.

Music Maker Jam

This musical app from Magix lets you craft tracks by adding loops for drums, bass, brass, pads, synths, and even vocals. You enable and disable instruments and cycle through varying options for each: For example, your synth can have the organ, filler, brute reverb, be choit, unreal, or royal synth sounds. You can raise and lower the volume, and change keys in loops. A very cool Effects graph lets you apply distortions to your whole combo, in heavy and soft, high and low directions. You can record your workOne downside is that it doesn't play while running in the background.
TuneIn Radio

Another app we loved on iOS arrives for Windows 8. Use it to play any Web-streamed radio broadcast on earth. It can find local radio station, has a sleep timer, and can keep playing in the background while you do other things with your PC. Stream categories include local radio, music, sports, news, and talk. And you can search by other locations or find and play podcasts. I only wish the app let me choose a bit rate for stations that offered several, like those from SomaFM, but it shares that limitation with its iOS version. The latter still has a bunch more features, such as the ability to record and favorite what you're listening to.



The Windows 8 Vevo app plays top-charted music videos for free on you Windows 8 PC or tablet. If you can't decide what to watch or listen to, you can start playing the VevoTV Live video broadcast. Organized somewhat like iTunes or Windows 8's own app store, you can swipe through categories for Featured, Premieres, Top Videos, Top Artists, and Shows. The videos start quickly, playing in glorious full screen, but you'll see a pre-roll ad occasionally. Still missing are search, personalized suggestions, and song sharing via social networks.



There's no Vine for Windows 8 yet, but Vyclone offers a similar social video experience—without the 6-second limit! Vyclone is already available on iPhone and Android, so you don't have to worry about a lack of content and potential contacts. As with all these social apps, you can follow, heart, and comment on videos submitted to the service. You can also watch nearby footage, but where Vyclone really shines is when you have multiple people shooting the same event: The service edits the disparate angles together.

YouCam Mobile

CyberLink's video editing software has long garnered top ratings here at PCMag, and now the company has brought some of its expertise over to Windows 8. YouCam lets you manipulate both photos and video even while you're still shooting. You can crop, tag faces, frame, draw on , and stamp photos with stock art like flowers and kissy lips. On top of its photo features, YouCam lets you trim video, and then upload it to YouTube or Facebook.


For many of the more tradition photo adjustments—brightness, contrast, white balance, along with artistic filters—look to CameraStudio+, from Moobila. It's surprisingly rich for a $2.99 app, with cropping, resizing, red-eye correction, as well as frames and overlays. Once you're done perfecting and enhancing your photo, you can save it as a JPG or PNG to the folder of your choice or up to the SkyDrive cloud. It's really all you need to improve the photos you snap on your Windows 8 tablet.


29 Best Windows 8.1 Apps

Great British Chefs

Great British Chefs
A forceful poke in the eye to anyone who says Windows 8 apps are unattractive, the Great British Chefs app looks as appetising as the dishes it will help you to cook. A compendium of recipes from culinary luminaries such as Marcus Wareing, Nathan Outlaw and Tom Aikens, the app provides a wide selection of dishes for cooks of all abilities. Once you’ve selected your chosen dish(es), the combined ingredients can be added to the shopping list, which are handily broken down by shopping aisle (i.e. meat, vegetables) and can be exported to email or Evernote.
When you get back from the shops, pop the recipe in Cooking Mode and you can swipe step-by-step through the instructions on your tablet, with a handy timer available on the side of the screen. With a series of interesting food articles, plus video guides to tricky jobs such as extracting the meat from a lobster, you really couldn't ask for any more from a free app. (Free)


A Microsoft Studios game that has migrated from Windows Phone 7, to Xbox Live, and now Windows 8.1, ilomilo+ is a delightful little timewaster that Windows tablets could desperately do with more of. The idea is to reunite ilo and milo - see what they’ve done there? - by navigating the 3D level they’re trapped on opposite sides of. You alternate between controlling both characters, using one to open trapdoors or create paths for the other, until they’re back together. It’s clever, beautifully presented, but perhaps a little too prim for some tastes. A two-player mode adds longevity. (£3.49)


Navigating the morass of news, memes and endless discussion threads that comprise Reddit is no mean feat, but the Redditting client does a brilliant job of boiling it down. It effectively turns Reddit into an RSS reader, allowing you to browse your favourite subreddits, filter out sources or contributors you’d rather not hear from, and read the source article alongside the comments in split-screen. Once you’ve logged in or filled out the simple in-app registration, you can also vote posts up or down, add comments or submit links of your own. A setting that allows you to filter adult content could also make Reddit palatable at your place of work. (Free)

Halo: Spartan Assault

Halo Spartan Assault
Halo is the Xbox’s best-know game franchise, and its less graphically ambitious transition to tablets and smartphones is nonetheless a success. It has everything you associate with Halo: a variety of futuristic weaponry to choose from, vehicles to commandeer and an intelligence-free pack of comrades who repeatedly need you to dig them out of a firefight.
The top-down approach is unusual for Halo, but works well, as do the touchscreen controls. Attempting to fleece you for in-app purchases after paying a fiver for the game is a touch gratuitous, but they’re not necessary. Try the Lite version first. (£4.99)


This free photo-editing app comes with a wealth of options packed into its simple interface. The Basic Edit category has tools to crop, resize and rotate images, and sliding scales can be used to change exposure value and colour temperatures. Other options include the sharpen and blur tools, which can be tweaked, and there are lens flare and shadow categories that contain dozens of options.
A broad selection of Instagram-style filters and frames are included, too, and pictures can be pulled from a variety of sources – from local folders to the SkyDrive. It’s an extensive tool, but it’s also possible to upgrade to Fhotoroom Pro for only 99p. The upgraded app includes additional filters, and it’s also compatible with images larger than 4 megapixels in size. (Free, 99p Pro version available)


TuneIn Radio
It’s one of the most popular radio tools around, but it’s taken its time arriving as a Windows 8 app. It has all the features you’d expect: hundreds of radio stations divided up by region, and many more categorised into dozens of genres. As on the website, sports and news stations are given their own sections, and it’s also possible to filter the thousands of stations by language. TuneIn supports podcasts as well, with shows organised into similar genres. If you’re a radio fan, this app is a must. (Free)


This multitasking tool is one of the cleverest apps we’ve seen in the Windows 8 Store. It includes a host of small utilities, from a calculator and converter to weather and clock tools, and it even has a basic web browser and social networking clients, with Facebook and Twitter supported.
That’s not the clever bit, however. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen reveals a host of different layouts, with between two and six windows included on each. Different apps can run in each window, so it’s great for multitasking, and Toolbox also includes six pre-set configurations. (Free)

News Bento

News Bento
This is a great app for keeping tabs on multiple news sources – and it’s totally customisable. Hundreds are available in six categories: News, Business, Tech, Photo & Design, Entertainment and Sports. A tap on a logo adds or removes a source from your feed, and News Bento also supports your own entries – it’s as easy as adding a name, URL and optional logo. The browsing interface itself is top-notch, with Live tiles rotating with article pictures, and both light and dark themes available. (Free)

Nextgen Reader

Nextgen Reader
Nextgen Reader is one of the few Windows 8 apps that’s been designed with both desktop and tablet users in mind. By default, it looks like a rudimentary desktop feed reader, with your list of feeds running down the left-hand side of the screen and a reading pane to the right. Tap the app’s logo in the top-left corner, however, and it flips into Modern View, with feed articles turned into the familiar Windows 8 tiles that are much easier to tap on and read on a tablet. The app requires a Google Reader account, and managing subscriptions requires an awkward trip back to the browser, but it’s otherwise a smartly designed, fully featured reader. (£2.19, free trial available)


Games are the strongest suit in the Windows 8 Store, and Chimpact is an amusing little diversion, especially for tablet owners. The idea is to catapult your simian friend around the levels, collecting bananas, squishing caterpillars and avoiding foes. The game is part Angry Birds, part platformer, and works best on a tablet, where you can drag your finger across the screen to fire the little critter. Chimpact doesn’t require much in the way of grey matter. In fact, it might be best deployed as a cheap back-seat diversion for your own little monkeys. (99p, free trial available)

Sim Trader

Sim Trader
Ever thought you could make a killing on the stock market, but haven’t had the cash or the nerve to prove it? Sim Trader is an inexpensive way to see if you have the magic touch. You're handed an imaginary $10,000, with which you can buy and sell shares with financial impunity, monitoring the progress of your portfolio and that of other players all from the single screen. The app is about as visually appealing as an Excel spreadsheet, and clicking on a news item throws you out of the app and back into the browser, which is a bit jarring. But it’s a fun five-minute diversion each day. (Free)


Wordament, Windows 8
Need one killer reason to buy a Windows Phone? Then meet Wordament, the horrendously addictive word game that you may well spend the rest of your life playing. The idea will be familiar to anyone who’s played Boggle: from a 16-letter grid of letters, you have two minutes to form words using vertical, horizontal or diagonal moves. You compete against the rest of the world in real-time, with the biggest challenge being to break into the top ten in a given round – something no-one from the PC Pro team has managed to do. Yet. (Free)

Khan Academy

Khan Academy, Windows 8
If you haven’t heard of Khan Academy, it’s a global not-for-profit organisation that aims to educate the world for free. The iPad app gives access to its library of over 3,200 teaching videos, covering all the branches of maths, the sciences (including its foray into computing, which is still in its early stages), history and even finance and economics. It also has a section for talks, similar to the TED app. The quality of the teaching varies by topic and teacher, but it’s a free resource that’s designed specifically to engage and explain rather than simply talk at students. (Free)

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Encyclopaedia Britannica
There have been Britannica apps on iOS for a while, but it’s the new Windows 8 app that stood out from a relatively meagre crowd in the Windows Store before launch. It’s well designed, making full use of a large monitor to bring you detailed information, loads of images and other interactive elements, and a search for one topic quickly leads to several more. The bad news? Beyond the top 100 articles, you’ll need to subscribe to view more, so don’t go expecting the app to be a free way into this wealth of knowledge. (Free, then £10.99 to subscribe)


Netflix, Windows 8
Although on other platforms we could have gone for LoveFilm Instant, the Netflix alternative is a lot better designed, and it's currently the only option on Windows 8. Categories drill down into subcategories with more creativity, and the scrollable cover-flow layout makes spotting your favourites much simpler. (From £5.99/mth)


Plex, Windows 8
Streaming your music and video to mobile devices is made easy by Plex, which works on a wide range of phones and tablets – including windows Phone handsets as of earlier this year. Set up the client on your home Windows or Linux PC, or Mac, and you’ll be able to access its content on the move, as well as taking advantage of a wide range of internet channels. Just watch your 3G data usage if you’re not on an unlimited contract. (From £2.99)


Skyscanner, Windows 8
Flying is almost as unenjoyable as actually paying for the tickets, so anything that improves the latter process is welcome. Skyscanner already enjoys a reputation for finding some of the keenest prices around, and the app makes navigating them easy and quick. It’s intuitive considering the wealth of information it manages, and we especially love the Explore feature, which allows you to circle the globe finding prices to virtually anywhere from your home airport. (Free)

Fresh Paint

Fresh Paint, Windows 8
This app emulates the joy of slapping paint on canvas like no other. Paint in one colour and then brush over that same area with another and watch as the colours bleed authentically together. When you’re ready, you can switch on the dryer and stop the colours merging. The option to paint over your digital photos is another feather in this terrific app’s cap. (Free)

Xbox SmartGlass

Xbox SmartGlass, Windows 8
SmartGlass turns a Windows 8 tablet into a touchscreen controller for the Xbox console, allowing you to access the non-gaming aspects of Microsoft’s console. The SmartGlass interface includes tiles for the apps – such as BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, Sky etc – that you may have installed on your Xbox, although navigating through those apps can be a little tough. But swiping around the homescreen is perfectly intuitive, and it’s a godsend when your Xbox controller batteries have died. (Free)

Cocktail Flow

Cocktail Flow, Windows 8
Cocktail apps aren’t rare on iOS and Android, but this early Windows 8 app is a fine example of the genre. Select cocktail recipes by name, type and even colour, or – we like this bit – select all the spirits, mixers and liqueurs you have in your kitchen and the My Bar section will scan its database for cocktails it can create from them. Alas, it’s not yet adventurous enough to create something drinkable out of eggnog, champagne and beer. (Free)


ESPN FC, Windows 8
With no sign of a Sky Sports app on Windows 8 devices, it's up to rival ESPN to bring us our football news and scores, and this quickly improving app does a fantastic job. You can select favourite teams for quick updates, view the latest results and tables from pretty much every major league of interest around the world, as well as European competitions, and it also has some nice feature articles from the ESPN writers. (Free)


Skype, Windows 8
It's no surprise that some of the best-designed apps to hit the Windows Store have come from within Microsoft. The Skype app was built from the ground up to be ideal for use on a tablet such as the Surface, able to run silently in the background at all times, ready to burst into action when a call or instant message comes in. It's also one of the few apps we've seen that remains genuinely useful when snapped side-by-side with other apps. (Free)

Star Chart

Star Chart, Windows 8
One of the early showcases for Windows 8's full-screen style, Star Chart takes a familiar app idea - using your tablet's camera to explore the night sky - and executes it with tremendous panache. Use it as an augmented reality star finder, or simply as an educational tool if you're indoors - and it has a neat Night Mode to make it easier to see what's going on in the dark. (£4.49)


A real-time strategy game in the ilk of PC classic Starcraft, Armed is proof that Modern Windows 8 apps won’t lack substance. Equally manageable with a touchscreen tablet or a mouse, Armed requires you to build a base, harvest resources, defend against attack and explore new territories. It’s a little complicated to wade straight into either single or multiplayer gameplay, but the excellent tutorial shows you the ropes. (Free)

Ministry of Sound

Ministry of Sound
A must-have app for fans of the legendary dance club, Ministry of Sound provides a wealth of free music sessions for clubbers. The Live From The Club section provides a five-hour set from the past Saturday night, giving you a feel for the atmosphere of the London venue. There’s also pre-recorded sets from well-known DJs such as Sister Bliss. If you like the free music on offer, there’s also an opportunity to preview and download the club’s huge back catalogue of albums via the app. (Free)


The Wikipedia app provides a more convenient way to browse the people’s encyclopedia, particularly on tablet devices. The app’s homescreen highlights featured images and articles of the day, which provide a fun way to dip into a completely random topic. However, to search for articles, you’ll need to use the Search charm – activated by swiping a finger from the right of the screen on tablets. You’ll also need a live net connection to perform searches. (Free)

Pinball FX2

Pinball FX2
Touchscreen tablets are perfect for pinball games, allowing you to merely tap on either side of the screen to operate the flippers. Pinball FX 2 isn’t the most impressive pinball app we’ve ever seen but it has some great features, not least the ability to see how your scores compare to other friends on Xbox Live, and the online tournaments. (From free)

Music Maker Jam

Music Maker Jam
A terrific little tmusicimewaster, Music Maker Jam allows you to blend together your own Dubstep, Jazz or House music, simply by playing with a range sliders and effects. You get to choose which instruments and vocals appear on your tracks and how much emphasis to afford to each, and once you’ve got the balance right you can start experimenting with key changes and writing your own loops. The resulting soundtracks are awesome, especially when played back through proper speakers. (Free)

Growth Tracker

Growth Tracker
A smart little utility for parents of babies and young children, Growth Tracker allows you to monitor the height and weight of your child at regular intervals, and see how they compare to the averages for their age. The Height Predictor feature will even take a stab at how tall they’re going to be in adulthood. There’s a one-child trial version of the app available; it’s a mere £1.39 if you like what you see. (£1.39)
Author: Barry Collins