Can We Survive On Windows 10 S Without Desktop Apps? — Alternative Apps On Windows Store

Surface Laptop Windows 10 S
Image: CNET

Short Bytes: Microsoft’s Windows 10 S operating system is a lightweight version of Windows 10 Pro. It can’t run apps that are not present in the Windows Store. However, you can rely on desktop app alternatives for Windows 10 present on the Store or other cloud-based variants of those apps.

The recently announced Windows 10 S is a big milestone for Microsoft. Also, it’s a tool they have created to regain their reach in the operating system market by targeting students and schools.

Microsoft’s has touted Windows 10 S as streamlined for security. And limiting users to the Windows Store isn’t a surprising move as there are a lot of fishy desktop apps out there.

Also Read: What’s Windows 10 S? What’s The Difference Between Windows 10 S And Windows 10?

For the apps living on the Windows Store, Microsoft does all the frisking in advance. The UWP-based apps are executed in a sandbox, thus, preventing them from trespassing into the restricted areas of the system. Microsoft has also started offering regular desktop apps – repackaged using Desktop Bridge – on Windows Store.

It’s great that Microsoft is trying to blow up the size of the Windows Store. But still, the question about the Windows Store app alternatives for Windows 10 S is apparent. It’s already known that Windows 10 S users won’t be able to use Chrome and Firefox web browsers due to their unavailability on the Windows Store.

Many people might be curious about the alternatives for other popular apps for Windows 10 S. I browsed the Store to see if I can easily find the apps that I, and many other people, use on a daily basis. Here it is:

Alternative Apps For Windows 10 S Operating System

Media Players for Windows 10 S

In most cases, it’s an understood fact that VLC is the default media player on many people’s computers. A version of VLC is already present on the Windows Store, so users making a switch to Windows 10 S can have a sense of relief.

Films & TV, the inbuilt Windows 10 media player app, can play your MP4, 3GP, AVI, WMV, etc, video formats. So, it can be a satisfactory VLC alternative if you’re not obsessed with formats such as MKV.

Windows Store also hosts various video streaming apps including Netflix if you’re not the one who has tons of movies in their local collection.

For your music needs, the inbuilt Groove Music app can be fine but there are a bunch of music streaming apps on the Store including Saavn, Gaana, Tune-in Radio, etc.

Also Read: 10 Best And Free Media Players For Windows PC (2017 Edition)

Web Browser alternatives for Windows 10 S

Since Chrome and Firefox are nowhere to be seen on the Store, Edge is your only option which you can’t remove as the default browser.

According to Forbes, an important point (a problem) to be noted here is a Windows Store policy which mandates that the apps accessing the web must use the HTML and Javascript engines provided by the Windows Platform. Microsoft argues this is to enhance the user safety.

A similar policy forced Google to use WebKit for the iOS version of Chrome, instead of Blink engine used for Android. So, putting Chrome on the Windows Store won’t be an easy task as it requires rewriting the whole browser.

But before you start cursing Microsoft, even Chrome OS doesn’t allow installation of other browsers. However, it can run Android apps is the only workaround.

There are other Chrome alternative for Windows 10 S including UC BrowserHD and Opera Browser (Installer).

Office App alternatives for Windows 10 S

Similar to VLC, Microsoft Office is also a synonym for office related apps. Microsoft Office Suite installer is available on the Windows Store. Alternatively, you can switch to cloud-based options like Office 365, or Google’s Office Apps if you don’t want to spend any cash.

Mail applications for Windows 10 S

Most of the people take the help of the web browser to access their email accounts. But offline email clients such as Outlook and Thunderbird are good options if you have multiple accounts and want instant email alerts.

For Windows 10 S, a Microsoft app called Mail is available on the Store along with some other notable email apps such as Touch Mail.

Zip Extractors for Windows 10 S

It’s possible to extract a zip file using Windows Explorer. But it only supports a couple of formats and what’s about creating your own zip files. We can’t compare the inbuilt Windows feature with zipping tools like 7zip and Winzip.

A version of the Winzip app is available on the Windows Store, which can be used as a Windows 10 S zip extractor. In the case of 7zip, we hope the tool makes it to the store soon. You can also try apps such as 8 Zip Lite, RAR Opener, etc. These apps can compress and uncompress various formats.

PDF Readers for Windows 10 S

Most of the web browsers can open PDF files, so it’s hardly any need for a standalone PDF reader. However, if you want, Adobe Reader Touch is available on the Store. Also, there is a Microsoft-made app called Reader that can be used as a PDF reader for Windows 10 S.

Drive Integration apps for Windows 10 S

It’s obvious that Windows 10 S would have OneDrive integration. But what about other platforms? Apps for cloud-based storage services Dropbox and Box are available on Windows Store, but Google Drive users would have to depend on the web-based version.

Communication App alternatives for Windows 10 S

When it comes to communication apps, Windows Store isn’t a barren land. The two most popular team chat apps Skype, and Slack are available. If you want, you can download Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, etc from the Windows Store. Soon, Microsoft Teams will also be coming to the Store and serve as a Windows 10 S communication app.

Optimization And Security Apps for Windows 10 S

One of the favorite optimization apps CCleaner is not there on Windows Store. However, there are a couple of apps including a memory optimization app called Aerize Optimizer. Paid version is required for the app to run in the background. Another app, Quick Tools can be used to clear device cache and free some space. Sadly, there is no considerable alternative to CCleaner.

As far as security tools are concerned, Windows Defender is quite efficient. However, you can download apps such as 360 Total Security (Installer), Avast (Installer), AVG (Installer), etc. for Windows 10 S and Windows 10 from the Store.

Torrent Client/Download Managers for Windows 10 S

IDM is a famous name when people talk about download managers for Windows. Windows Store has a few apps in this category.

An app called File Downloader (silver icon) is available in both free and paid options. However, you have to use the app’s internal browser to download content, it won’t fetch from your desktop browser. There is another app called File Downloader (green icon) which appears to be more neat and tidy.

A more comfortable option would be going for your browser’s inbuilt download manager and using it as a download manager alternative for Windows 10 S.

For downloading torrents on Windows 10 S, you can use an app called Torrex Lite. You can also take a look at wTorrent and PicoTorrent (paid). Instead of using desktop apps for downloading torrents, I would like to suggest online torrent caching services such as BitPort.

Password Managers for Windows 10 S

You can find some of the popular password manager apps on the Windows Store. The list includes Keeper, LastPass, and TrueKey.

So, what’s the deal?

It’s totally expected that Windows Store will catch up soon as more people will start using it. However, exchange here is the speed and safety which Redmond wants to ensure for the Windows 10 S users.

Above mentioned were some of the desktop app alternatives for Windows 10 S, or if you don’t want side-loading apps on your Windows 10. However, this is only a rough assumption and actual conclusion can only be made after using the system for a while.

Another convenient option would be switching to cloud-based platforms and reduce your dependency on a particular operating system. The last mile solution would be going for the $50 Windows 10 Pro upgrade.

If you have something to add, drop your thoughts and feedback.

Also Read: 10 Best And Free Media Players For Windows PC (2017 Edition)
Aditya Tiwari

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, Apple Watch, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]
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