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11 winning alternatives to Windows 8's built-in apps

Alex Cocilova | Nov. 7, 2012
Windows 8 comes preloaded with plenty of apps for basic productivity and entertainment, but they're not necessarily the best you can do. We've already mentioned the apps you should download first, but now we want to share some third-party apps that you might like more than what Microsoft includes in its basic Windows 8 installation.


The built-in Calendar app does exactly what you'd think it would, but not much more. You can check the day's events, add an event with reminder options, and...that's about it. You can use Microsoft's app to sync up your own personal Google calendar, but you're out of luck if you need to sync Google calendars that have been shared with you.

That's why, like the Mail app, we recommend using the tried-and-true Google calendar as the alternative. You'll access it via your browser, of course, but you'll be able to see all your schedules at once without worrying about hacking the app. And yes, you can put Google Calendar on your Start screen: Just pin it to Start like any other URL, and pretend it is its very own app.


Microsoft's cloud storage service boasts hooks into nearly every device within the new Windows ecosystem and beyond. You can access SkyDrive file storage on your Windows desktop, any Mac, your Windows 8 tablet, your Windows Phone, and even iOS and Android devices. SkyDrive is also integrated into various Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps, granting you quick cloud access and sharing when you need it the most. Indeed, the new Web app version of Microsoft Office is reason alone to love SkyDrive.

Yes, SkyDrive is fantasticbut it doesn't sync with Dropbox, the once de facto leader in cloud storage.

Enter All My Storage, a comprehensive app that brings together all the big cloud storage systems, including SkyDrive, Dropbox, and Box. When you link all your accounts, you can easily search through all of them in one place. The app even comes with a built-in media player to play local content or stream Dropbox media. It's free in the Windows Store if you're willing to suffer some advertisements, but there's also a paid version for $2.99 that comes with cloud statistics and more themes, and does away with the advertising.


Photos is the central depository for all your photos and videos, whether they be on SkyDrive, local drives, Facebook, or Flickr. It's actually not a bad app, but it's always nice to explore one's options, right?

Albums HD is a great place to "save your memories in one place." The app allows you to store your photos in customizable albums and then share them via slideshows that sport different transition effects. It even supports a Live Tile option so that you can view your photos from the Start Screen. Albums HD is $1.49 on the Windows Store.


Like the Video app, the Music app allows you to view all your music, as well as preview and purchase all the newest and best music that Xbox Music features.


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