Windows 8, now 8.1, isn’t a bad operating system. People will debate its merits, sure, and while it might not be as well-loved as Windows 7 or Windows XP, it’s certainly not deserving of being tossed in the trash heap with Windows Vista and ME. Maybe the biggest problem with Windows 8/8.1 is actually the newest addition – that you can use apps as well as the desktop. Some people didn’t like the addition of apps and Windows’ new start screen at all, but really, the biggest problem has been the apps themselves – there aren’t very many of them.
Well, after this week, Windows 8.1 will still be starved for apps compared to iOS and Android. But, this week could provide a boost of momentum for a platform struggling to find its footing, particularly in the tablet market. Following up on the announcement that Instagram is headed to Windows Phone 8, major app developers are showing that they haven’t abandoned Windows 8, either. Four apps are getting Windows 8.1 updates, and one huge app is coming to the platform for the first time.
That one huge app would be Facebook, which finally has a native app on the Windows 8 platform. Released concurrently with the Windows 8.1 update, Facebook is your standard mobile Facebook experience – everything you find in the browser, plus quick links to update your status, upload a picture, or check in somewhere. Needless to say, this fills a huge hole for Windows 8 – I don’t know if they lost any tablet sales because of the absence of a native Facebook app, but they definitely didn’t gain any.
Hulu Plus, Netflix, Adobe Photoshop Express, and Nook have all gotten Windows 8.1 updates. For the most part, that just means bug fixes and support for the new sizes of Live Tiles available in Windows 8.1. Some apps, like Hulu Plus, have also added support for the new and improved integrated search found on Windows 8.1.
The Nook update is the most robust, also adding the ability to import ePub and PDF files from your computer or SkyDrive and better support for portrait orientation, in addition to the general Windows 8.1 improvements mentioned above.
You can find all five apps on the Windows Store now for free, provided that you’ve gone through with the Windows 8.1 update.