The Microsoft Store app, sometimes called the Windows app store, makes it easy to find, install, and uninstall apps on Windows 11. Apps from the Microsoft Store deserve more of your confidence than apps you might download elsewhere, because they’re vetted by Microsoft staff for security, technical compliance, and content. Plus, they run in a sandbox so that they can’t wreak havoc on other parts of your system. We're fans of desktop app stores, including the App Store for macOS, because like Windows’ store, it lets you reinstall purchased apps on any computer you signed in to.
The big news for the Microsoft Store is that it’s gaining support for Android apps you can run on your Windows 11 PC, courtesy of the Amazon AppStore. This roundup, however, is limited to true Windows apps. Microsoft recently made it easier for developers to convert both traditional Windows applications and PWA apps (basically app-like websites) for inclusion in the store as well as UWP apps (Universal Windows Platform apps), so the selection is growing in more ways than one.
Now that we’ve sold you on installing Microsoft-vetted apps on your PC, only one question remains: Which ones should you download? In researching for this story, we found that there are a lot more good choices than we'dexpected. Sadly, as with all app stores, there’s still a good deal of cruft in the Microsoft Store. We pick out the gems that are destined to deliver enjoyment and functionality.
Free; $9.99 per month for Premium
Adobe’s new lightweight web application is trying to democratize good design by making it accessible to nonprofessional designers. With the Creative Cloud Express app, you can create impactful Facebook posts, Instagram stories, logos, or posters using templates and stock content. Use it to create marketing collateral, school projects, work presentations, and other projects that benefit from visual impact. It has an impressive toolset boasting loads of design elements, many of which can be used for free. It also lets you share your work with collaborators or customers. A subscription ($9.99 per month) adds many more templates and stock assets.Adobe Creative Cloud Express Review
Free; $4.99 per month for Premium
With Adobe Photoshop Express, you get not only basic photo correction tools for exposure, contrast, color saturation, and so on, but alsojazzy filters to dress up your photos. Helpful cropping tools, blemish removal, and sharing features round out this well-designed app that works on mobile devices as well. It’s so much simpler than the full Photoshop, too. You can do a lot of this for free, but a $4.99 per month subscription unlocks a whole lot more effects.Adobe Photoshop Express Review
Free; $7.99 per month for Unlimited
The shopping and web services giant has put out an impressive—and affordable—music streaming service. Sure Spotify has an enormous catalog and some terrific multi-device-control and social capabilities, but if you spring for Amazon Music Unlimited, you get much better sound quality and just as big a library—75 million tracks. If you have the right gear, you can even listen to Spatial Audio with the app and you can play in the more-direct Exclusive mode on Windows. The app lets you download your sounds for offline listening. You get Standard service (just 2 million tracks at 320kbps) included with a Prime subscription, and for $7.99 a month you can enjoy Hi-Res and 75 million tunes. A free account (no credit card required) gets you ad-supported stations and playlists but no on-demand listening choices.Amazon Music Unlimited Review
That’s right, you can now install the venerable Firefox web browser from your PC’s app store. Sure, Windows 11 comes with a terrific browser, Microsoft Edge, but we still love this open-source, independent alternative. A favorite feature is its optional Container tabs, which saves you from clearing cookies or using a second browser to log in to (or out of) more than one account on the same site. Firefox remains a fast, customizable, and privacy-focused browser, with password syncing, extensions, and good web standards support.
Instagram is another app anyone plugged into the current zeitgeist won’t want to do without. Watch the stories, see the selfies, carry on direct message conversations, see who’s following whom, and post your own memes. It’s all there in this PWA app. One thing it lacks is access to your PC’s camera, but you can upload photos stored locally.Instagram beta (for Windows Phone) Review
Free for web-only apps; starts at $6.99 per month for full features
Our Editors’ Choice office suite now has a Microsoft Store app that serves as a hub for all its included applications and your documents. From the Microsoft Office app (which is what's installed when you choose Microsoft 365 from the store) you can either launch documents in the web versions of the suite apps or install the full software locally. In addition to the productivity apps, the hub gives you access to Microsoft To Do, Teams, Family Safety, and Skype. Free users can use the online versions of Office apps, while subscribers get a terabyte of online storage and downloadable Office applications.Microsoft 365 Personal Review
Don’t lose those flashes of inspiration, travel ideas, new contacts, sketches, or meeting notes. Save and organize them in OneNote. This note-taking app works on every platform, syncing all notes on all your devices. Include images, audio, online videos, and even math equations. Students can use OneNote for class materials and planning, and you can password-protect sections to keep them from prying eyes. Unlike a word processor, there’s no need to create and save files, and search is quick across your entire set of notes.Microsoft OneNote Review
$9.99-$19.99 per month subscription
Binge your favorite series from the popular streaming service in glorious 4K on your Windows PC or tablet screen. With the Windows Netflix app you can download (some) shows for offline viewing. Switch account profiles for different viewers and add or remove shows to your list. Managing your account still requires opening the web browser, though.Netflix Review
Free; from $8 per person per month for additional features
Some people use the web version of this popular workplace group chat app, but who wants another browser tab to manage? The Slack app facilitates your interaction with teammates, including sharing images, and even meeting for video or voice group calls. It ties in nicely with Windows 11’s notifications and Focus assist mode (in case you don’t want to be disturbed by its notifications). Small teams can use it free with some restrictions; full service starts at $8 per user with an annual commitment.Slack Review
The mobile internet’s latest teen sensation is available as a Windows store app. The TikTok Windows app lets you not only consume all that great dance and humor content but also upload video from your PC, though it doesn’t support direct uploading from a PC’s webcam. You can send direct messages and buy coins to support your favorite creators in the app as well. It’s free but supported by ads.
Love it for its breaking trends or hate it for all of its anonymous trolls, Twitter is part of modern life and a way to stay in touch with what’s going on. The Windows store app is a PWA that lets you see what your favorite celebs and pols are spouting off about at the moment. The app lets you switch among multiple accounts for all your tweeting, retweeting, and hearting. It’s totally free, though ads appear in your feed.
If you communicate with anyone who’s outside the US or doesn’t use an iPhone, chances are you’re one of the more than 5 billion WhatsApp users in the world. The Windows store app lets you not only send and receive end-to-end encrypted text chats with your contacts, but also use it for video and voice calling. Use disappearing messages; update your profile; or send photos, emoji, and voice messages in this simple Windows store app. Thankfully, you can now use the same WhatsApp account on more than one PC, but not simultaneously (just tap the Use Here button). It’s free, with no ads or upgrade purchases offered.