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Andrew J.

I'm a web designer and technology aficionado from the Southern United States.

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You’d think it would be easy to make a good to-do app for a platform. After all, paper and pencil have been doing the job for years on end already, haven’t they? Still, it’s proven to be surprisingly hard to find a simple, functional to-do list app for Windows 8. Like Goldilocks, they’re either too clunky to use, too chock-full of features, or too sparse.

My gold standard, as with most PIM apps, is the Tasks app for Palm OS. Though it’s over a decade old, the Palm OS got a lot of things right. The right balance of simple with being full-featured enough to use daily is a terribly hard balance to strike. Minimalist for Windows 8 gets a lot of the balancing right, though.

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Inevitably, an app store will revolve around several types of apps – with many different alternatives available. This is the case with any app store, with Windows 8 as well. Pocket is a popular application for reading blog posts and other content not right at the moment. Articles are saved in a queue – and there are several Pocket clients in the Windows app store that promise to fulfill this task.

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An operating system is most useful in its day-to-day functions – functions like an RSS reader, a chat program, a note-taking app; and a news app. And, in theory, every political app reports on the news with absolutely no slant at all – because we all know how unbiased the journalism scene is.

Still, it’s no crime to want to read the news in a format that’s easy to use and comfortable to read in. Which news app for Windows 8 does the best job of this? Read on for more.

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Perhaps the most basic requirement of any operating system is a good chat app. Windows 8 ships with the default Messaging app, but as it lacks Google Talk support, this essentially cripples that app. So in my quest to find Windows 8 apps for all of my day-to-day functions, I stumbled upon Chat.

The simply-named, even simpler program is one of many chat programs in the Windows 8 store that promise simple day to day use. But so far, I’d not stumbled upon a program that meets any of those promises, until I found Chat.

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Any new operating system will inevitably be judged by its games. This has traditionally been an area where Windows has excelled, and with the introduction of Windows 8, developers have had a chance to bring fantastic games to the Windows Store.

Though there are many games available in the store, many of them are cheaply made or not worth the money they cost. Hydro Thunder Hurricane is a definite exception.

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I’m a big fan of Google products, and for many years I’ve used the web versions, since they’ve met my needs as well as or better than native apps have. When I upgraded to Windows 8, I quickly found an acceptable mail substitute with the default Mail program. My Google Reader was not replaced so easily.

While I’d tried over a half a dozen RSS feed readers for Windows 8, all of them were shoddily made or lacking in features. But finally, I’ve found one that improves on the default web interface of Google Reader: NextGen Reader.

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Inky is a new email application that, in the words of its website, ‘pulls all your email accounts together in one place, [and] sorts your mail by relevance, letting you see your most important mail first. Enjoy your email again!’ Taglines telling us to ‘enjoy’ our email again are as old as the hills, and we’ve seen them on at least a half a dozen ambitious mail clients who ultimately fail in their promise to assist with the drudgery of email.

What makes Inky different? Does it succeed in its promise to make email enjoyable? Read on to find out.

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OneNote for Windows 8 has just been released, and it’s quite different from previous versions. The only application in the Office suite to make the jump to a Windows 8 app, OneNote is an entirely different beast from the rest of the Office family.

Its features have made it one of the best productivity applications out there for some time. Does OneNote for Windows 8 maintain the best features of its desktop-based predecessors?

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Ever since CSS preprocessors like less have come to be, designers have wrestled with the issue of compiling this code easily without a hassle. It can be included in web pages using less.js, but that adds extra overhead to the site load.

Finally, a simple and thought-free solution is here: SimpLESS .

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XWidget is Windows software that brings the famous Mac OSX dashboard to Windows computers while adding some new features of its own. There’s several Windows dashboard programs out there, but XWidget stands out from the crowd by almost perfectly balancing ease of use with customizability, including many unique features not found in any other dashboard software.

There are several other similar programs: Rainmeter (an extremely powerful but complicated program), Yahoo! Widgets (now discontinued), Google Desktop (also discontinued), and Microsoft’s Sidebar which comes bundled with Windows 7. XWidget is an excellent, easy alternative to a more difficult program such as Rainmeter, while still remaining more featured than the spartan Windows 7 Sidebar, packing a couple of surprises in its tiny package

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