Change left over from holiday shopping? Treat yourself to a new app for your Windows 8 desktop or tablet.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

November 20, 2012

4 Min Read

6 Reasons To Want Windows 8 Ultrabooks

6 Reasons To Want Windows 8 Ultrabooks

6 Reasons To Want Windows 8 Ultrabooks (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Whether for productivity, social networking or entertainment, there are a growing number of apps for Windows 8. True, there are still no Facebook or Twitter apps, but Microsoft is making progress convincing developers that its new platform is worth their time and effort. Here's a look at eight cool apps for less than eight bucks each, along with their ratings and feedback from fellow Windows 8 users.

Star Chart
Price: $5.99
Publisher: Escape Velocity Limited

This stargazing app takes advantage of Windows 8's support for augmented reality and location awareness. The app displays a 3-D rendering of the night sky. Pointing your tablet at a star or other celestial body while the app is running will reveal its identity, as well as that of other nearby objects. "Makes use of GPS and all the fun toys of a nice tablet or PC," says reviewer Geashu.

User rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Price: $4.99
Publisher: Undiscovered Software

Ferret is a Windows 8 client for, a social media platform that's geared toward developers and tech-oriented users. serves up Twitter-like feeds, and Ferret features drag-and-drop tools that allow users to view multiple streams at once, arrange streams by preference, and perform other customizations. "All around good client," says Windows Store reviewer Sami.

User rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Special Characters
Price: $1.49
Publisher: Shanghai Muxue Digital Co.

Special characters let users easily insert math symbols, emoticons, accents and other characters easily into text, whether on social media networks, into chat sessions and documents, or other media. "The emoticons are very funny. I can type them conveniently. But including more chemistry characters or something else would be more wonderful," said reviewer Worth.

User rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Price: $7.99
Publisher: WinZip Computing

The classic file compression tool is now available for Windows 8. It allows users to compress, send and open files in .zip and .zipx formats. Integrated with Windows 8's Share function, the app lets users immediately share documents with contacts on e-mail, social media and other apps with a single click or tap. "So far I'm using the trial but everything seems to be working well," wrote reviewer Zhewar.

User rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Notepad RT
Price: $2.49
Publisher: JDM Labs

For developers, this code editor is built specifically for Windows 8, and can run on the ARM or standard x86 version of the operating system. It offers syntax highlighting for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby and other environments. "Love it. Simple, functional, and attractive," wrote reviewer Richard.

User rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Chess Chess Pro
Price: $7.99
Publisher: Moshelu

This chess app allows players to play against a computer or online versus other humans. It features varying difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert, supporting play for Elo levels 500 to 2500. The game also offers up "expert opinions" on recommended moves. Reviewer Steven called it "one of the best chess engines I have used." However, another reviewer, K.B., chided it for its "horrible controls."

User rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Angry Birds Star Wars
Price: $4.99
Publisher: Rovio Entertainment

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … a group of desperate rebel birds faced off against a galactic menace … the Empire's evil Pigtroopers!" 'Nuff said.

User rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Angy Birds Star Wars

Angy Birds Star Wars

Angy Birds Star Wars

Tweeter Light
Price: $2.99
Publisher: Pilchie

An official Windows 8 Twitter app is said to be in the works. Until it arrives, users don't have many options for accessing the microblogging service on Win8 tablets (other than going to the Web). But there are a few Twitter front ends for Windows 8 emerging. One is TweeterLight, which its developer calls "a simple, lightweight Twitter client." It serves up multiple feeds simultaneously and can retrieve saved searches from "Nice that it uses Tweetmarker, but crashes on refresh when snapped to the side as a smaller app," notes reviewer Sean.

User rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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