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Quick Guide to the Apps on Your Surface

Your Surface comes with more than a dozen built-in apps. Most of them live right on the Start screen for easy access. Others aren’t listed on the Start screen, but hide in the Start screen’s All apps area. To see all of your installed apps, slide your finger up from the bottom of the Start screen and tap the All Apps icon.


But whether they’re listed on your Start screen or hiding in the All Apps area, the following apps appear on every Surface tablet:

  • Bing: You can search for websites directly from Internet Explorer, but Microsoft’s Bing search engine app brings a more finger-friendly interface, with its larger buttons, handy autocomplete of search terms, and easy access to trending items.

  • Calendar: This handy app lets you enter your upcoming appointments, of course. But it can also automatically fetch appointments you’ve made in online calendars created through accounts with Google or Microsoft. The app then blends appointments from several sources into one calendar.

  • Camera: Your Surface’s front camera works best for vanity shots, whereas the back camera is more suited for scenic vistas.

  • Desktop: A tap of the Start screen’s Desktop tile fetches the traditional Windows desktop. There, you find several of Windows’ usual accessories like Paint and Notepad. The Desktop app lets you run all of your old, traditional Windows programs. (Windows RT tablets include the Desktop app, but they can’t install your older Windows software.)

  • Finance: In the U.S., this tile shows a 30-minute delay of the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P. (In other markets, it shows other indexes.) Tap the tile to open the Finance app, filled with charts, indices, news, rates, and stocks you’ve added to your personalized Watchlist.

  • Games: A tap of the Games app brings the Xbox Games app, a link to your Xbox game console. Here, you can see your Xbox friends and gaming achievements, as well as watch game trailers and buy new Xbox games. (The app also lists a few free games to play on your Surface.)

  • Internet Explorer: This no-nonsense browser site fills the screen with your currently viewed website, with no messy menus or tabs to get in the way. (To see the app’s menus, slide your finger up from the screen’s bottom edge.)

  • Mail: This simple app lets you send and receive files and e-mail. It works in conjunction with your People app, automatically filling in e-mail addresses as you begin typing in a person’s name.

  • Maps: The Maps app brings up a version of Microsoft Bing Maps. Because neither Surface includes a Global Positioning System (GPS) chip, the Maps won’t find your exact location or offer turn-by-turn navigation. Instead, it finds your approximate location, and it still dishes up accurate directions when you type in two addresses.

  • Messaging: This universal instant message program lets you swap text messages to friends through Facebook, Microsoft’s Instant Messenger, and other instant messaging programs.

  • Music: This music player plays music stored on your Surface or stashed away on SkyDrive. But it’s also a gateway to Xbox Live Music, which offers an array of streaming music options to owners of an Xbox game console.

  • News: Drop by here to read news pulled from a wide variety of news sources, which differ depending on your region.

  • People: The People app contains your friends’ contact information. You can enter or edit the details yourself, or let the app automatically harvest your friend’s information from your Facebook, Twitter, Google, or other online networks.

  • Photos: The Photos app lets you show off your photos, whether they’re stored on your Surface, or on accounts from Facebook, Flickr, SkyDrive, or even other Windows computers on your network. It can also import photos from your digital camera.

  • Reader: Many downloadable documents and manuals come stored in Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), and this app opens them for easy reading.

  • SkyDrive: This app lets you stash files online. It not only lets you share files with other computers and people, but it’s a convenient way to add storage to a space-deprived Surface.

  • Sports: Sports fans drop by here to see the latest team scores and game news. Open the App bar and tap Favorite Teams to create a mini-newspaper devoted to your favorite team’s news and statistics.

  • Store: To download new apps, visit the Windows Store.

  • Travel: Designed around people who keep their suitcase packed, this app caters to impulse buyers. It’s filled with tempting panoramic photos of travel hotspots, maps, reviews, and, of course, links for booking flights and hotels.

  • Video: This plays videos from your Surface and its storage areas, as well as providing a portal to Xbox Video.

  • Weather: This personalized weather station grants you a weeklong glimpse into your city’s future weather patterns. (Load the App bar and tap Places to add other cities to your crystal ball.)

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