Chapter 8: What are Windows 8 apps and where do I get them?

Much like the app stores for Android- and Apple iOS-based smartphones and tablets, Microsoft has a dedicated store through which you can download and install various apps. The store is accessible through the 'Store' tile on the Start screen and you will need to be logged in to your Microsoft account in order to be able to download new apps.

The apps can be browsed according to genre, price (great if you're looking for free apps), popularity and new releases. You'll find apps for popular Web sites such as Cracked and others, which display their Web content inside the new Windows 8-style user interface environment, making it easier to browse on a touchscreen. You can also find media apps for TV broadcasters such as SBS, for example. The SBS On Demand app allows you to browse any video content that the channel uploads and you can watch it easily through the Windows 8-style user interface.

The Microsoft Store is the place where you will be able to download free and purchasable apps for Windows 8.
The Microsoft Store is the place where you will be able to download free and purchasable apps for Windows 8.

Here is the status of an app that's downloading, and a notification of an app that has already installed. The notification will pop up on the screen regardless of the app you are in.
Here is the status of an app that's downloading, and a notification of an app that has already installed. The notification will pop up on the screen regardless of the app you are in.

The new-style apps that you download through the app store and run through the Windows 8 Start screen user interface are restricted to that environment in terms of how you can access them — they don't appear windowed, but instead are shown in full-screen view. Applications that run on your Desktop, such as Microsoft Office, Firefox and Steam, for example, run in normal windowed mode and can be minimised and maximised as needed.

If you are on the Desktop and want to switch to any of your open apps, you can do so simply by pressing Alt-Tab, or by navigating to the top-left corner of the screen and moving slightly downwards so that the list of open and recently used apps appears in the Switcher. From here you will see that the Desktop is also seen as an app. Once you get the hang of this new Switcher menu, it will make it much easier to go between regular Desktop applications and Windows 8-style apps and vice versa.

It's important to note that because the new Windows 8 apps run in full-screen mode, you can't see the Taskbar. This means, for example, you also can't see the time nor how much battery power your laptop has remaining.

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