What’s an App to Windows 8?

Short for application, apps herald from the world of smartphones: cellphones powerful enough to run small programs, as well as make phone calls. The Windows 8 apps differ from traditional windows programs in several ways:

  • Windows apps come from only one place: the Windows Store. Available as its own app, the Store app lets you download apps from Microsoft; once downloaded, they’re automatically installed on your computer. Many apps are free, but others cost money.

  • Only Windows apps can run on Windows. Apps found on iPhones and Android phones aren’t designed to run on your Windows 8 computer. Creators of some popular apps create versions for each platform, but they sometimes differ slightly. Have you bought apps for your Android or iPhone? You’ll have to pay again to buy the apps’ Windows versions.

  • Apps, by nature, fill the entire screen when running, although Windows 8 does offer an awkward way to “snap” two apps together.

  • Apps are usually fairly simple to use, but simplicity brings limitations. Many apps don’t let you copy words, photos, or links. There’s often no way to share an app’s contents with a friend or to leave public comments. Most apps lack the power of traditional desktop programs.

Although Windows 8 refers to traditional desktop programs as apps, there’s a big difference: Windows programs run only atop your Windows 8 desktop, whereas apps run only in the new world of the Start screen.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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