The Windows Store doesn’t get a lot of love, and for the most part you can understand why. I’ve been through plenty of apps on there that fail to do what they promise or appear to be free but then quickly put up a paywall when you starting using them.
Even though the Windows Store is far from perfect, it seems like a bit of a waste to not at least have a look into it and see what – if anything – it has to offer. To save you some time, I did a Window Store deep-dive myself, and here are the five best apps I’ve managed to salvage from it.
You’ve obviously heard of Facebook, and there’s a good chance you use its Messenger app on your phone every day, but did you know that Messenger is also available in the Windows Store?
That means you can launch Messenger directly from your desktop, with all the same functionality as the mobile version, but with the perk of being able to write using your keyboard. It’s much more comfortable to use than the tiny chat window through the Facebook website, and you can jump straight into voice chats, too.
It’s easy to spend hours in the countless sub-reddits of Reddit, reading in-depth discussions on just about any topic or simply exploring from the homepage and seeing what the most popular user-submitted stories and silly pictures of the day are.
But Reddit is also pretty messy and can be awkward to navigate, which is where Redditting comes in. This app packs Reddit into a neat interface, allowing you to organise your favourite subreddits, change the order in which they appear, and make your own bespoke Reddit homepage.
Halo 5: Forge
Halo 5 launched exclusively on Xbox One last year, and is the latest entry to Microsoft’s bestselling first-person shooter series. While the full game isn’t expected on PC any time soon, Halo 5: Forge is the next best thing. (And it’s absolutely free!)
Forge is a robust map-making tool for Halo 5, allowing players to create their own maps, share them, and jump into them with friends. Not only that, but it also gives you access to all of Halo 5’s official maps and game modes! The catch is that there is no “quick-play” system, and you’ll need to find custom matches in order to play with people, but that’s a small trade-off to play one of the best FPS games out there for free.
Adobe Photoshop is the king of advanced photo editing tools (and there’s a free version of it you can grab on the Windows Store, too), but if you’re looking to do some quick and easy photo fusion on your PC, then give Fused a try.
Using this app, you import a background and foreground into the app, then select a Blend Mode from one of 20 available. You can then edit their colours and blend intensity to fine-tune them to your liking. The app is so convenient that it shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds to create stunning blended images.
There are emulators aplenty out there in the big Wide Web, and you’ve probably settled on which ones you like using most by now. But the Universal Emulator found in the Windows Store is a hidden gem because it lets you play games from the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. It has a lovely interface, plug-and-play support for Xbox controllers, and works brilliantly (though bear in mind the rules about the legality of emulators and roms).
Oddly, it doesn’t find “.md” and “.sfc” (specific formats of Genesis and SNES) files by default, but it’s just a case of changing the filenames to “.smd” and “.smc” respectively.
These apps show that there is hope yet in the Microsoft Store. There’s something satisfying about how quickly these dedicated Windows 10 apps boot up and generally function with no hiccups. It’s just a shame that there aren’t that many more of them out there. But have a browse, and let us know if you find any appy surprises that we didn’t.