Microsoft has been busy over the past few months, rolling out a lot of new updates. Windows 8 debuted in October of 2012, Office 2013, along with its companion Office 365 Home Premium, in early 2013, and numerous updates to other services as well. While both flagship products introduced many changes, some failed to address one pressing request from users.

The new Explorer for Windows 8 introduced the ribbon interface which has become a staple of Office and the new Office added a Start screen, which makes for easy launching of previously opened documents as well as access to templates and simple searching for additional ones.

Both new apps failed to address a feature that has been apart of web browsers for some time now — tabs. You can add this simple, but useful, feature to both through third-party apps, but it was something that Microsoft simply should have built in themselves.

Several options exist for adding tabs to Explorer, with my favorite being QTTabBar, but I have found only one suitable solution for Office and, if you are using 2013, then it is not free, but reasonably priced.

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I was browsing through the Windows Phone App Store the other day and was appalled to see the severe drought in the number of quality health and fitness tracking applications for my windows phone. At the end of my search, I found Microsoft’s own Personal Health Record management system Healthvault and little did I know that they had a Windows Phone version of their web application.

To turn back in time, Microsoft launched their web based PHR management system way back in the year 2007, and most of us including me was of the thinking that the Redmond giant has discontinued with the service and never knew that it is rendering its continuous support for its dormant existence.

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Starbucks Finder: Never Struggle To Find Coffee Again

Everyone has their favourite coffee shop where they can relax and drink their favourite beverage. For me that shop is Starbucks. The internationally famous company delivers great service and gives customers the best drinks on the high street.

One thing which heavily disappointed me was that the Official Starbucks app was only available for Android and iOS — leaving out the Windows operating system. I remember going into shops and feeling annoyed when my friends would pay for drinks with their mobile devices. Then I found hope. From the developers Sensability, comes an app called Starbucks Finder which possesses all of the same features.

This app is perfect for me and since discovering it I’ve used the service every time when paying for drinks at Starbucks. Read on to find out more!

I should also mention that Starbucks Finder isn’t restricted to any countries. Listing Starbucks stores across the world.

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Photoplay: It’s Time To Forget Instagram

I often mention apps which aren’t available on the Windows Phone platform but really should be. And to be honest, there’s quite a lot of them. Big developers obviously aren’t targeting our network because they feel like it’s a waste of time. However, some developers decide that they want to create an alternative application and make it available on the Windows OS — that brings me to Photoplay.

Photoplay is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone making it accessible to everyone. The app mimics the service of Instagram, but then completely designs everything. Photoplay is definitely a true contender to Instagram and in my opinion a whole lot better.

Read to find out more!

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For those who have a Windows Phone handset produced by Nokia, you likely are aware there is a Nokia suite of apps that the device maker has created specifically for its customers. The suite includes Music, Maps, Drive and Transit. Now the Finnish company is starting to make some of its apps available for Windows 8.

Previously, Nokia had supported Windows for backing up your phone via copying your contacts, calendar and photos from existing Nokia phones to the Microsoft SkyDrive service.

Recently Nokia Music rolled into the Windows Store with a brand new Metro, or Modern UI, style app that installs right to the new Windows 8 Start screen. The new app also will work on the Windows RT platform, which is the ARM-based version of the new operating system that powers such devices as the Surface tablet.

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As a freelance writer on the internet, all of my payment come through Paypal. The web version of the service is great for transferring money to your account quickly and keeping track of it at the same time. However, I’m often on the move and only accompanied by my mobile phone — this often makes it hard to check how much is in my account making PayPal mobile the far better option for me.

With PayPal mobile you can quickly and safely keep an eye on your money wherever you are. The app possesses most of the abilities of the webpage which means you’ll find it very easy not to use PayPal in any other form.

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Online cloud storage is all the buzz right now. There are countless solutions that allow you to upload and sync your files to the cloud and Box is one of them. Box allows you to store your files online and access them anywhere, anytime. With the free personal account, you get 5GB, into which you can store all kinds of files and organize them into folders.

You can also share files and folders, and you also get real-time updates when someone views, edits or comments on your file. In addition to that, you can also invite members into a share workspace and collaborate on a file. Box launched a Windows 8 app and has recently updated it. Let’s see just how good it is!

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My name is Sydney and I’m an AppStorm writer, a freelance web designer, a beagle mom and a software enthusiast. I’m flexible when it comes to operating systems. My current setup is a Windows 8 desktop PC, a 13″ MacBook Pro running Mountain Lion, a jailbroken iPhone 4 and a decked out installation of Chrome synced between my computers. I spend a lot of time in my browser and I’m a huge fan of text expansion and shortcuts.

These are the apps that I couldn’t write without.

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The number of people from different countries that I know has significantly increased over the past few years. A lot of my classmates are from other continents and even though they can speak English, it is nice to woo them by sending texts in their own language once in a while, don’t you agree?

I found a nice app for translating text right from my Windows phone. Yeah, you can Google but it is useful to have an app solely dedicated for translation then and there. The app’s name is Translator and it is one of the best rated app on the Marketplace.

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I use Windows 8 on all of our home computers — except for the home server, which runs FreeNAS. But, if you are here looking for apps to do things like bring back the Start menu then you are in the wrong place. I do not miss that relic from Windows 95 and have no problem using the new interface.

What I wished to cover here is not just for Windows 8. These apps work across many versions of the operating system and I find them incredibly useful on a regular basis. The only requirement to qualify here is that the app be free, and all of these meet that criteria. Beyond that, I am only looking for software that is truly useful on a daily, or almost daily, basis.

I will spare you the boring things like alternative web browsers to replace Internet Explorer — just use Chrome or Firefox, it’s an easy choice. Not all of these apps are for everyone, as it depends largely on your tastes and needs, but most should satisfy every computer user in some way and many are useful on an almost daily basis.

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