Windows Dictionary: Apps

Windows Dictionary: Apps

Ever wondered what apps are? Get out! Few have. Anyone that has had anything to do with mobile devices and now Windows 8 probably already knows what apps are. They are just there!

Apps are your tools — what you use to crunch numbers, assemble words and shoot zombies.

The tile-filled Start Screen in Windows 8.1 houses a number of apps, as does your smartphone and tablet no matter what platform they are running. But if you ever wondered what are the exact differences between apps and traditional software (or programs) then read on.

Microsoft has this uncanny habit of calling all Windows software apps. They may be applications yes, but the word ‘apps’ now usually refers to mini-programs that are specialized for single tasks. But users can easily make the distinction even with this hip new lingo Redmond is using.

Anyway, apps on Windows 8.1 differ from traditional desktop software in a number of different ways:

Apps take up the entire screen, while traditional desktop programs almost always run within windows on the desktop.

Apps are tied to your Microsoft account, or corresponding accounts with Apple and Google. You need to sign into these accounts at these respective stores (Windows Store or Windows Phone Store, for instance) to download a free or paid app.

Apps take up just one tile on your Start Screen when installed, in contrast this to traditional software and programs that sprinkle several different tiles at once and create clutter.

Apps can run on up to 5 PCs or devices, as long as you are signed in to those PCs with your Microsoft account. Most traditional programs only run at one computer where they are installed.

Apps are almost always optimized for touch, and this has got to do with their smartphone roots. Traditional desktop programs usually offer a complex UI best suited for keyboard and mouse usage.

There you go, the most basic of rundown for the apps and what separates them from desktop programs. First appearing in 2008 on smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, some 102 billion apps were downloaded by users in 2013 according to the latest data from research firm Gartner.

And perhaps the most amazing thing is that the apps story has just actually begun.