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Universal Apps

Following in the footsteps of mobile and cloud-based applications, Win10 strengthens Microsoft's stance on making "universal" apps universal for all PCs. These apps were meant to work on any Win10 implementation, on any platform, anywhere you are. Your data and settings will all be imported, allowing you to take the experience anywhere.

These apps make things infinitely easier for the coders, too. Such an implementation means that the developers can use about 80% of a program's code in porting it from one device to another. Having to reprogram only the remaining 20% (to compensate for the difference between the phone and the PC, for example), the makers of the Universal Apps can churn out more products in the near future.

Listed in this tutorial will be the top 10 apps that will likely make the most impact among all of the Win10 offerings. Note that this list is aside from those apps already built into your Win10 distribution, such as the Office apps.

Adobe Photoshop Express

While still not the Photoshop CC, this free (with in-app purchases) application will take lightweight photo-editing and enhancing to the next level. It sports a very good user interface, and syncs with the company's Revel cloud photo system (which in turn can be built into other Adobe apps). Automatic corrections make for quick fixes while still providing customization options. Of course, the app offers integration with Facebook for image posting.

AutoDesk Pixlr

Another popular application for photo-enthusiasts, AutoDesk gives another free Universal App that gives cool editing tools. It has a lot of options not available with other offerings, and can also be a staple for those looking to slap stickers onto their photos or make a colorful splash whichever device they are on.


Mostly because OneDrive comes baked into the Win10 implementation, Dropbox has lessened in its necessity. However, it is still true that many people rely on Dropbox to sync their most important files -- if you are one of those people, you will be happy to know that Dropbox comes in a free one-size-fits-all download for all your Win10 devices. There is a built-in document and a photo viewer for extra convenience, as well as a "favorite" option. There is also an auto-upload feature -- shoot a photo with your phone while you are abroad, and it automatically syncs with the app on your PC on the other side of the globe.


For those who need to look for eating recommendations with their PCs, and then follow through on-site with their phones, FourSquare fills in the gap as a Universal App. This software will not even require a log-in for use, though it is smart enough to learn your tastes if you decide to become a regular user. It has the same tile interface as the rest of Win10, providing good integration. It even syncs with the Bing Maps feature, meaning you can easily find recommendations.

Fresh Paint

This has been one of the more impressive Windows apps in recent times, and it is back in a Universal reincarnation. With realistic paint and other drawing textures as a multi-touch system with five-finger support, it is a must for every aspiring artist. You can even choose whether you will be painting on paper or canvas! It is also free, with several add-ons available as IAPs. All your artwork won't be left behind, as they can easily be imported so you can resume on your Win10 phone on the subway, on your tablet at work, and back at home on your PC.


The service that revolutionized how everyone watches movies also made its way to Win10. Watch your favorite series on any device you happen to have with you! The best part of this app is the way it is aligned with Microsoft's Xbox app. The app will have a way to remember where you left off as well as the ability to accommodate multiple user profile. Subtitles and audio can be enabled or disabled, making for a top-notch viewing experience.

Sonic Dash

Sometimes we all just want a quick game to play while waiting for the bus or while we are in a downtime. Win10 answers with an enjoyable yet challenging Sonic Dash, a free app that can be played anywhere thanks again to being a Universal App. Featuring the same mechanics as the phenomenally famous Temple Run, those looking for additional challenges may also purchase more courses, all the way up to more than 100,000 rings!


While Facebook has a nice modern app for Windows, it is not universal -- Twitter beat them on that one. The app supports everything you can see in the web service, from multiple account sign-ins to videos and pictures (with tagging options). Create and save drafts, choose the themes, and edit your profiles on-the-go or in the comfort of home. New Tweets can also be displayed on the lock-screen.

Wolfram Alpha

Whether you're a student, a professional, or an all-around info sponge, you can't go wrong with Wolfram Alpha. With an analytical engine that can handle just about any question you throw at it -- from geology and astronomy to health and transportation and even lottery statistics -- this beats all other search engines. The power and universal convenience comes at a $2.99 asking price, however, though it can save you a lot of hassle.

Words With Friends

If you have free time you want to waste with friends, then Words With Friends is the best Win10 solution. One of the first multiplayer games to break through into the Universal App store, you can scrabble and chat to your heart's content no matter where you are. You can even fight for bragging rights in the leaderboard, though it still cannot let you set the individual record as is available on the iOS platform.

Applications Compatibility

But wait, you ask -- what if I just want to use my existing Win7/Win8/8.1 apps on Win10? Not to worry, as Microsoft tells us this: if it ran on Win7, it will run on Win10.

Indeed, under the hood, Windows 7, 8, and 10 are quite similar -- only the looks and some features were largely revamped. There are no large driver architecture changes, nor any overhaul of the architecture security model. This is quite unlike the time when PCs upgraded to Win Vista and 7 from XP, which caused a lot of software features.

There's even good news for tablet users -- MS has killed off Windows RT, that infamous Windows 8 implementation that restricts third-party applications (i.e., everything non-Windows inherent, which means some of the best apps) from running. Now, all 8-inch devices and above can run the full and unrestricted Windows desktop while smaller devices run the mobile equivalents.

That does not mean that there will be no glitches, however -- Windows apps tap into a large number of factors and something may still go wrong. For this, Win10 answers with a "Compatibility Mode" that essentially tricks apps into thinking they are running on an older Windows version (the feature also appeared in Win7). This will resolve a large majority of glitches. Win10 also extends a helping hand by activating this feature when something needs it, as when it detects an application having an issue. It can also be manually enabled by the following steps:

  1. Right-click the program's shortcut or .EXE file.
  2. Click on Properties, and then select the Compatibility tab.
  3. Select a version of Windows the program would have worked on.
  4. If it does not work or if you are not sure what the issue is, click on the Compatibility Troubleshooter to get more info on the optimal settings.

Then What Won't Run?

As mentioned, it's not all sunshine and compatibility. There are a few things that will not work with Win10 even though they worked flawlessly with the previous versions.

For one, all applications that rely on old drivers will be a problem. Those applications that interface with XP-era hardware devices (particularly those whose manufacturers have not yet released drivers that work with Win7) will be in trouble. If there were drivers released for Win7, however, then all should be fine.

Applications that worked fine with XP but refused to work with 7 will have problems, too. Win10's Professional editions do not have the XP Mode feature that came with Win7. If you absolutely have to use software that works only with XP, then it would be best to set up the OS within a virtual machine.

Also, Win10 has a 64-bit version, where 16-bit applications (if you still have any of these) won't be compatible. These used to work in 32-bit versions of Win7, and might still work with Win10's own 32-bit versions.

If you are worrying about built-in Windows features, then you should know as early as now that some compatibility has been removed. One example is the Media Center (built into Win7 and available as a paid download in Win8), which has been discontinued. The traditional games (Solitaire, Minesweeper, Pinball, etc.) are no longer available, although modern replacements are available for Minesweeper and Solitaire. The DVD playback feature is no longer preinstalled, so a third-party app like VLC may be in order. In addition, the discontinued Desktop Gadgets have not made a reappearance.

How do I Scan for Compatibility?

Microsoft has an "Upgrade Advisor" that will scan your system before you upgrade, so that you are sure which of the installed apps could be carried over to Win10. This is built right into the "Get Windows 10" feature that has been rolled out to Win7 and Win 8.1 users (through Windows Update).

  1. Simply click on the corresponding upgrade icon on the taskbar to get through the process.
  2. Click on the hamburger menu found in the upper-left corner.
  3. Under the section "Getting the upgrade", choose "Check your PC".

While applications running on Windows 7 and 8 are most likely compatible with Win10, it is always best to contact the company or developer to make sure that such is the case. You might also want to hold off from upgrading if you wish to verify from other users if specific software had worked with Win10. Remember, the Win10 free upgrade offer will last for a full year from its date of release.