Apps, apps, everywhere apps
Apps on Surface tablets are often a cause for conversation. Some people complain about not enough apps in the Windows App Store, others think they are getting too many pre-installed apps and lose too much drive space to them, and others are simply confused about whether MS Office should be pre-installed on their Surface.
In any case, we do get lots of questions about apps. What’s a computer without apps, after all?
In this post, I’m going to cover some common questions and answers about apps on your Surface. Note that this article pertains to Windows 10 (Win 8.1 has a slightly different set) on Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and the Surface Book.
What are Universal Apps?
A Universal Windows App (UWP), is an app that (in theory) can run on multiple platforms, like a PC, tablets, phone, etc. Although it is not yet a full reality, this type of app design is becoming more and more prevalent. Here is a quote from Microsoft that describes it best:
At the core of UWP apps is the idea that users want their experiences to be mobile across ALL their devices, and they want to use whatever device is most convenient or productive for the task at hand.
Which apps come pre-installed on Surface tablets?
Any computer without apps (including a Surface) is a lot like a fancy, hard-cover book with blank pages. There’s a lot of potential in a pretty package. So, Microsoft installs the following apps with Windows 10:
- 3D Builder
- Alarms & Clock
- Contact Support
- Get Office
- Get Skype
- Get Started
- Groove Music
- MS Edge
- MS Solitaire Collection
- Movies & TV
- Phone Companion
- Voice Recorder
- Windows Feedback
Depending on which device you own, you may also see some hardware-specific apps, such as the Nvidia Control Panel software if you have a Surface Book with a dGPU in the base.
You will, also, see apps that are not actually installed; they are basically shortcuts, like Get Skype, Get Office, etc… These are little “mini-apps” that will go out and install the real deal for you.
Is MS Office pre-installed on Surface?
MS Office 365 is only pre-installed on Amazon, or any other software retailer.
While Office 365 is fairly inexpensive, if it’s something you don’t want to put money down for, you can take a look at a couple of free Office Alternatives. They’re free and offer 95% of the Office 365 functionality.
Can I uninstall the pre-installed apps?
You can easily uninstall some of the pre-installed apps (right-click an app in the All Apps list and uninstall) but it is more difficult to uninstall some of the integrated apps, like Camera or Groove Music. MS Edge and Cortana should not be uninstalled. In general, unless you are very comfortable with computers, I would be cautious about uninstalling anything that’s integrated because you could cause some serious problems to your Operating System.
Where can I get more apps?
You can install any Windows-compatible programs on all of the current models of Surfaces. This includes, any software you have for work, games, email clients, etc.
You can also get more apps from the Windows Apps Store (built-in with your Surface). Many of the apps in the Windows Apps Store are either free or very low cost.
How much space do I have available for apps on Surface?
See our post on how much storage the Windows 10 operating system takes up on your Surface. You will then be able to deduce how much space you have left over.
What are good apps to have?
This is a very subjective question because it depends on your preferences and what you use your device for. However, here is a list of apps that we nearly always install for our clients:
- Surface App
- Anti-virus Software
- VPN Software
- MS Office (or other similar products for word processing, spreadsheets, etc.)
- PDF editor (this is only if you need to edit PDF files, a reader is built-in
As I said, these are just a few apps and they are mostly “utility-type” apps, so you may want to install other things you need.
What are the most popular apps?
According to Microsoft, here are the most popular apps from their Store:
Top Free Games:
- Asphalt 8: Airborne
- Candy Crush Jelly Saga
- Hill Climb Racing
- Crossy Road
- Sniper Fury
- Microsoft Jigsaw
Top Paid Apps:
- Drawboard PDF
- Earth 3D
- KVAPhoto+ Pro
- WiFi Commander: 3D Analyze & Monitor
- Recipe Keeper Pro
Top Free Apps:
- VLC for Windows Store
- Adobe Photoshop Express
That’s it for apps. Do you have a specific tip about Surface apps? Or a question that we an address here? Please leave it in the comments.