Basic Microsoft apps for Windows Phone 8

Microsoft received a lot of flack from users and even Nokia for not accelerating development of more apps for the Windows Phone 8 platform. There are, however, a few good selections from Microsoft that are worth installing on your Lumia. I've already written about Bing Translator previously but Microsoft has other utilities available to try. The apps on this short list aren't heavy hitters and address the needs of only a small portion of users, but they're small, free and may come in handy:

1. World Clock - This app should have come preinstalled with all Windows Phone 8 devices. World Clock lets you create a list of locations and their corresponding current time. You can reorder the list of locations and when you tap an entry, the map zooms to the city. World Clock is simple, well-designed, free and great for frequent travelers.




2. Unit Converter - Like World Clock, this useful app should be standard on WP8 devices. This easy-to-use app lets you provide conversion tables for lengths, temperature. speed, time, volume, angle, weight, and area. Use the Favorites screen to add and quickly access frequently used conversion.




3. Network Speed Test - This app is mostly for users who have issues getting inconsistent WLAN speeds. It's a barebones and simple diagnostic test but in most cases, that's all you really need.




4. SkyDrive (OneDrive) - If you want to use a majority of the available apps from the Windows Store, you're going to need the SkyDrive app to manage your media properly as most apps depend on SkyDrive for file access. One example is Comicana, a comic book reader that uses SkyDrive to download .cbr and cbzs to your phone for reading.

5. Skype - Skype is surprisingly crippled in Windows Phone 8 compared to its iOS version. Access to your message history is extremely limited and you can't send photos or files. On the other hand, Skype is indispensable if you're familiar with the platform or you have already invested in call credits.

6. Bing Weather and Bing News - There are several apps that are based on Microsoft's online search engine but arguably the most useful of the bunch are Bing Weather and Bing News. In this terrible time of polar vortexes in the U.S. and sudden downpours in the U.K., having a weather app has suddenly become a necessity. Bing News is a nicely designed news app that aggregates news from different sources. It's a great news app to have around to complement The Guardian and Euronews app especially since the official CNN app for Windows Phone 8 is extremely buggy.

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