Windows applications are rarely associated with great design and usability. A lot of Windows apps only built to be functional, not about how they look but some Windows apps are actually different than that common perception. I have found several websites that suggested several Windows applications that are beautifully designed and still fully functional like other less well-designed applications. By the way, these applications are listed not in any particular order.
If you have read my post about Metro UI, you certainly have seen the MetroTwit screen shots. It is one of the most beautiful (and also very functional) twitter client for Windows. It also implement the Metro design language so it will certainly seamless integrated with Windows 8 UI when it is released later this year.
2. Zune for Windows
Zune is Microsoft effort to fight Apple iTunes. In my opinion, Zune is very good application. It clearly follows Microsoft Metro design language. It’s the first time Microsoft implemented Metro design language in Windows PC. If you have Windows Phone (like the sweet Nokia Lumia 800), Zune is the only way to sync your content (ala iOS and iTunes).
3. Kindle for PC
Kindle for PC is the application to access and read your e-book in your Kindle account. It also supports WhisperSync technology. The app will sync how far you have read a book across all your Kindle devices. So, when you switch devices to read from Kindle app, you can start where you’ve left off last time.
Price: Free (for application), e-books (varies)
Blio is another app to read your books in PC. The difference is Blio tries to bring full book experience to PCs, complete with an iBooks-style page turning animation. It keeps all the original formatting intact.
it’s attracting more children’s books, cookbooks, photo books, and more that wouldn’t work as well in Kindle.
Price: Free (for application), e-books (varies)
Safari is the web browser from Apple. It’s not only beautiful (typical Apple products) but also have unique feature, like Reading Mode. With Reading Mode, you can remove all the distractions, like sidebars, adds, etc, from the page’s main content. It will reformat the text size and pictures to create better experience when we view articles. Overall, this is one great browser for Windows PC, which surprisingly (or not) from their competitor, Apple.
Soluto is a program that analyzes the programs that load when your computer boots to help you see what you can remove to speed things up. By doing so, you can know which program is slowing down your PC. The interface is also minimalist and looks simply elegant. A rare breed in the ocean of ugly Windows apps.
Price: Free; premium features coming in future versions
iTunes is multimedia management software from Apple. It runs on Mac and Windows PC. With iTunes, you can manage your contents easier. If you have iOS devices, you certainly have iTunes as it is a mandatory software to sync your content, back up settings, and to upgrade iOS. iTunes also introduces Cover Flow interface that has been very popular.
Wunderlist is a great cross platform task management application. Your tasks can be synced and shared with others, keeping your team on track no matter what devices you use. Wunderlist supports Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android and recently Blackberry OS. Wunderlist stands out of other office software group by its UI. Its interface is simple yet customizable to meet your taste.
Evernote is a great note taking and syncing app. Since it works in multiple platform (Evernote supports Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc), you can always access to your notes from any of your devices as long as you have internet connection. You can read more about Evernote here.
Price: free or with subscription fee for premium accounts
10. Office 2010
Microsoft Office is one of the most widely use application in Windows PC. Everyday millions of people use it for various functions. Microsoft introduced Ribbon UI in Office 2007 and in Office 2010, they have refined the Ribbon UI to be more functional and beautiful. To read a full review for Office 2010, check out this link.
Price: Individual Office apps start at $69; Office Suites start at $115
With Picasa, you can organize, upload and sharing pictures easier. You can easily keep all of your content in sync with your Picasa Web Album. The latest version improves the collage tool and adds a basic movie maker.
Martview reader provides more options in reading interaction, which allows your magazine reading easier, yet comfortable. It has clean layout with sleek design that is easy on the eye. This app supports conversion from PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF, CBR, etc to MART formats. In my opinion, this application will work better for touch screen devices.
GeeTeeDee is a simplistic task management application for Windows. It has clean interface, intuitive lists, and space to store notes on your tasks. Beside that, GeeTeeDee has a portable version, so you can save it in your Dropbox folder and keep your tasks synced between all your computers.
14. Microsoft WorldWide Telescope
With WorldWide Telescope, users pan in all direction seamlessly. Users also can view the stars and planets at any time and date from any point on Earth, explore the sky in dozens of different wavelengths, zoom into images by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, or see Mars from the Opportunity rover’s point of view. You can read the complete review here and here.
15. Windows Live Essential
Windows Live Essentials is a software packages of all of the programs that have been taken out of Windows over the year, such as Movie Maker, Messenger, Mail, and Photo Gallery. Microsoft released Windows Live Essential as a competitor for highly praised Mac’s iLife suite. Today’s version of Live Essentials is surprisingly feature-packed. Each program run more stable and their designed is influenced by Ribbon UI and Metro UI. I hope in the future Microsoft will develop a unified style and always upgrade Windows Live Essential.
I hope with this post, you will know that there are some Windows applications that are not just about functionality but also designed beautifully. So, not all Windows apps are ugly (though most of them are). You just unlikely to find those rare breed easily. In the future, developers (and Microsoft) should try to put a lot of effort in designing their applications if they want to appeal for a lot of users. They can’t just rely solely on functionality but also to usability, intuitiveness and beautiful interface. If this trend arise, Windows PC can be more competitive to Mac.