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The Built-In Apps on Your Windows 8 Tablet

You can download and install new apps on your Windows 8 tablet, but Windows 8 comes with more than a dozen built-in apps. Most of them live right on the Start screen for easy access. Although your tablet’s manufacturer may add or remove a few apps to your tablet, the following apps usually appear on every 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 and handy autocomplete of search terms.

  • 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: All Windows 8 tablets include a camera, and often two. Your tablet’s front camera works best for vanity shots, whereas the back camera is more suited for scenic vistas, if you don’t mind looking dorky while holding up your tablet to frame the wonders of nature.

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

  • Finance: This tile shows a 30-minute delay of the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P. 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 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 tablet.)

  • 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. If your tablet lacks a Global Positioning System (GPS) chip, the Maps won’t find your exact location or offer turn-by-turn navigation. (Tablets sold with cellular data plans usually contain a GPS; tablets without cellular rarely do.)

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

  • Microsoft SkyDrive: This app lets you stash files online. In addition to letting you share files with other computers, it’s also a convenient way to add storage to a space-deprived tablet.

  • Music: This music player plays music stored on your tablet or stashed away on SkyDrive. 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 sources, from ABC News to WorldCrunch.

  • People: The People app contains your friends’ contact information. You can enter or edit the details yourself, or let the app automatically harvest your friends' 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 tablet or on accounts from Facebook, Flickr, SkyDrive, or even other Windows computers on your network. It can even 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.

  • 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 tablet and its storage areas, and also provides 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.)

Don’t see all of the preceding apps listed on the Start screen? Then slide your finger up from the Start screen’s bottom edge and tap the All Icons button. The Start screen then shows all of its available apps, including the ones not currently on the Start screen.

You can customize the News, Finance, Sports, and Weather apps to display information about your current interests, needs, or location.

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