How to Use the App Store for Windows 8

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How to Open the App Store

There are mobile apps out there for just about anything you can think of. Whether you want a new way to send Tweets or a high-tech replacement for a whoopee cushion, you should have no trouble finding it for your smartphone. While Microsoft, Android, and Apple have offered these apps for a long time, no one has ever brought them to your desktop computer - at least, not until Windows 8. We'd like to introduce you to the Windows Store, a feature of Windows 8 that allows you to choose from thousands of available apps to use on any of your Windows 8 devices.

To get started with the Windows Store, access your Start screen and click or tap the Store tile. The Windows store takes advantage of the new Windows 8 user interface, so you'll notice it takes up the full-screen and doesn't have the menus and links you might expect.

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Browse the Windows Store

All apps are organized into categories to make them easier to browse.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

You can get around the Store by swiping your touch screen, scrolling your mouse wheel, or clicking and dragging the scroll bar at the bottom of the window. Poke around and you'll find the Store's apps are laid out logically by categories. Some of the categories you'll see include:

  • Games - Includes hit titles like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride
  • Social - Contains apps that keep you in touch, such as Twitter and Skype
  • Entertainment - Apps that pass the time like Netflix and Hulu Plus
  • Photo - Photo editing and management apps like Instagram Live and Picasa HD
  • Music & Video - Apps for listening and watching like Slacker Radio and YouTube Player
  • Other - There are more categories with lots to offer

As you scroll through the categories, you'll find that the Store highlights featured apps from each category with large tiles. To view all of the other titles in a category, click the category title. By default the apps will be sorted by their popularity, to change this, select criteria from the drop-down lists at the top of the category window.

If you aren't interested in seeing everything a category has to offer and would rather only view those apps that are most popular or new, the Store offers custom views accessible by links on the main category view:

  • Top paid - Lists the most popular apps in a category that cost money
  • Top free - List the most popular free apps in a category
  • New releases - Lists the newest apps for your chosen category
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Search for an App

Browsing is fun and is a great way to find new apps to try out, but if you've got something specific in mind, there's a faster way to get what you want. Type the name of the app you want from the Store's main page. The Search charm will open automatically to receive your input. Hit enter or tap the magnifying glass in the search bar to view your most pertinent results.

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Install an App

The app's page displays information that will help you decide if it's worth downloading.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Find an app you like? Click or tap its tile to view more information about it. The app's information page is laid out into three tabs; The Overview tab provides you with a basic description of what the app has to offer, the Details tab displays system requirements and release information and the Review tab shows user reviews to give you an idea of the app's quality.

If you like what you see, click or tap "Install" to download the app. When the installation is complete, Windows 8 will add the app to your Start screen.

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Keep Your Apps Up to Date

The Widows Store makes updating apps a painless process.
Used with permission from Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Once you start using Windows 8 apps, you'll need to make sure you keep up with updates to ensure you get the best performance and newest features. The Store will automatically check for updates to your installed apps and alert you if it finds any. If you see a number on the Store's tile, it means you've got updates to download.

Launch the Store and click the "Updates Available" link in the top-right corner of the screen. The App Updates screen will show you all of your apps that need updates installed. By default, all tiles will be selected. Click any that you don't want to install and then click "Install" from the bottom of the window.

When you're done with the store, click or tap the top of the screen and drag down to the bottom. This will close the app and return you to your Start screen. If you'd like to keep it open but switch away from it, you can use the app switcher in the top-left corner, the Start screen link in the bottom-left or switch using the trusty "Alt+Tab" Keyboard shortcut.

While many of these apps are designed for use on a touch-screen mobile device, you'll find that most work great in a desktop environment. Take some time to see what's out there, you'll find an impressive supply of games and utilities, many of which won't cost you a thing. There may not be as many apps for Windows 8 as there are for Android or Apple, but there are thousands available now and more are added every day.

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