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Hooking Twitter into Windows 8.1

There’s a very rudimentary Twitter client built in to Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 tiled Metro People app. But if you’re serious about using Twitter — particularly if you have more than one Twitter account or use both Twitter and Facebook — there are much better alternatives.

As of this moment, the major choice in the Twitter app wars is between running a Windows 8.1 Metro tiled app for Twitter (and Facebook) or running a desktop app.

TweetDeck, for example, helps you keep track of Twitter accounts for international and local use. Twitter actually bought TweetDeck in May 2011 and has been extending its capabilities ever since.

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Over on the Metro side of Windows, some people swear by MetroTwit, which has the added advantage of looking and working like a Metro app, tiles and all. Look for it in the Windows Store.

The Metro Twitter app — the one from Twitter itself, available in the Windows Store — is unimpressive. It may get better with age. If your involvement with Twitter primarily revolves around following Justin Bieber (43 million followers), Katy Perry (41 million), and Lady Gaga (40 million), and tweeting about what you had for breakfast, then Metro Twitter works great.

All the serious Twitter apps have support for several key features:

  • Automatic URL shortening so http://www.somethingoranother.com/this/and/that.php ends up looking like http://is.gd/12345 — an important trick when you’re limited to 140 characters.

  • Multiple Twitter (and sometimes Facebook) accounts so people who keep their business and personal accounts separate can manage both simultaneously.

  • Picture attachments with automatically generated links to picture sites. The best Twitter apps let you drag and drop pictures onto your tweets and take care of all the details.

  • Sophisticated search functions so you can display not only your tweets, and the tweets of those you follow, but also tweets on topics that interest you, such as #19thcenturydentistoffices.

If you find yourself using Twitter much at all, take the time to get a Windows Twitter app. And don’t forget to download a Twitter app for your phone and tablet, too.

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