It’s easy to tell how important sharing is to Microsoft in Windows 8 because the option is always just a sideways swipe away. Just tap the Share option in the Charms menu to share a Web article, and Windows 8 will automatically create a thumbnail image and link description to go along with the Web address.
Right now sharing options include Email as well as Twitter and Facebook, social networking options made available through the People app in Windows 8.
Apple’s OS has a Share Sheets feature that makes it easy to share items directly from the app you’re using, whether it’s a website in Safari, a document in your library or an item in Preview. The number of sharing options varies based on the app.
Twitter integration enables you to see a thumbnail image of the Web article you’re sending along with a tweet box for adding your message. Facebook will let you share items in a similar way, but this functionality won’t be available until the Fall. Facebook integration will also add your friends to contacts and let you post updates from Notification Center. While the Share button isn’t difficult to find, its location varies depending on the app.
We like that the Share option in Microsoft’s OS is always in the same location, and we expect that it will work with more third-party services beyond Facebook and Twitter before too long. That includes LinkedIn, which already integrates with the People app.
Windows 8 will continue to run the plethora of desktop apps available today, provided you have a laptop with an X86 processor. Windows 8 for ARM devices, or Windows RT, will only run Metro-style applications. These apps will be available to x86 and ARM-powered devices through the Windows Store and nowhere else. Meanwhile, the Windows Store will list desktop apps but take you somewhere else to download them. Confusing? Yes, it is.
The good news is that the Windows Store sports a clean tile-based interface. Right up front are tiles for the top free, top paid and Spotlight. We like that you can try apps before you buy them. We’re not fans of having to scroll to the right to discover other categories though.
Although there’s only 100 of them for now, the apps themselves look great so far and mirror the panoramic Metro-style UI of the Start screen. The USA Today app presents headlines and videos in an elegant grid. We also like the slick Slacker app, which lets you control audio playback while using other apps via a small panel in the upper left corner.
Microsoft is also bundling a bunch of its own apps, including Calendar, Mail, Messaging, People, Photos, Stocks and Weather. The People and Photo apps are particularly compelling because they tie into social networks. Messaging also works with Facebook.
Three newer apps include Sports, Travel and News, which are slickly designed and integrate with Bing to provide the most timely information. Last but not least, the Metro version of the IE 10 browser now supports Flash.
Apple reportedly reached the 10,000-app milestone recently for its Mac App Store, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. It’s a cinch to download apps, which automatically show up on your Launchpad — just like iOS.
The interface of the App Store is iTunes-like in that it’s a little too dense with info. For instance, Categories, Featured, Purchases, Top Charts and Updates sit in a gray background and are easy to miss. The right rail stacks a lot of valuable info at a glance, however, including Top Free, Top Paid and Top Grossing. Apple also promotes a bunch of specific and useful categories, such as Games Starter Kit, Macs in Class and Staff Favorites.
We like that the apps downloaded from the Mac App Store can run at full screen, which cuts down on distractions. And the quality is quite good, too. Some of our favorites include Evernote, Pixelmator, Twitter and riveting games such as “Quake 4.”
Apple’s own apps add a lot of value, too, such as Messages (which works with iOS devices), Reminders and Notes, all of which sync via iCloud so you can pick up where you left off on your iPhone or iPad.
When it comes to desktop apps, Microsoft will still rule when Windows 8 debuts. There have always been more apps for Windows than Macs, and they’ll all run on Windows 8 PCs (with X86 chips). However, we expect the Mac App Store on Mountain Lion to have a huge lead over Microsoft’s number of Metro-style apps. Developers will have to hustle to bolster the Windows Store.