Best Windows 10 Apps 2017: Top Windows 10 S programs to make your laptop more useful

These are some of the best hand-picked apps for Windows 10 S that you can use across devices, from fun photo editing to seriously powerful conversion tools – these are the best of the bunch.

Windows 10 S is the latest operating system from Microsoft. This is aimed at streamlining the Windows 10 experience to allow users to run everything faster while using less power – ideal for tablets and laptops on the go. It also comes with Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption for enhanced security. And, most importantly, apps will be constrained by strict security and privacy protocols that should make your laptop less susceptible to malware.

Related: Best free anti-virus software
 
The catch? Users are limited to Microsoft apps found in the Windows Store only. But don’t fret, with this selection of apps you should be up and running in no time.

We’ve picked out 10 of the most useful Windows apps that will work on Windows 10 S, and gone beyond the obvious choices such as Netflix. Could you function on these alone and leave full Windows 10 behind?

Plex

1 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Play network video, music and view images
  • Automatic cover art imports
  • Review price: Free to download; £3.89 to unlock network playback
  • Download

Plex is one of the best options out there for streaming media across devices. More importantly, it’s a great way to get your content up onto your big screen at home. This is a network- based service that allows you to take content from one device – say, your PC – and play it on another, like your TV, all while controlling it from your phone. It’s a really handy way to watch anywhere without the faff of transferring files.
 
What’s good?

It just works. Plex has been around for years now, which is testament to how well it works – despite that fact it’s able to convert nearly any file type, so it will play on other devices. Watching that video you downloaded on your PC via your smart TV doesn’t require that it be converted, it just streams instantly across your network.
 
What’s bad?

The app appears to be free, but in reality you’ll need to pay £3.89 to play files for more than a minute from a Plex server. But that’s a small price to pay for such a great app.
 
Verdict

For network video and music playback, this is the best free option out there right now. If you want a way to show off holiday snaps from your phone on the big screen then this has you covered too. It’s now on so many devices and works with nearly all file types –  it really is idiot-proof.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 15

2 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • One-click fixes
  • Advanced features
  • Review price: £59.49
  • Download

This is the daddy of image editing tools for everyone from selfie tweakers to professional graphic designers. Photoshop Elements 15 is available on the Windows Store as a way of offering full-power editing on varying devices. From cropping and red-eye reduction to creating environments and layer masks.
 
What’s good?
You can delve really deep into the control options in Photoshop Elements 15, if you know what you’re doing. Equally, you can enjoy really simple and quick “one-click fixes” that are ideal for balancing brightness or enhancing colour – a bit like a more detailed version of Instagram filters. Oh yes, there are plenty of filters on there, too, including a creepy smile fix that makes every face look happier – The Joker would be proud. Or, if you want to go more in depth but don’t know how, this app will even guide you through the process.
 
What’s bad?
Some of the more in-depth techniques aren’t easy to grasp right away. You might need to spend a bit of time reading up and watching tutorials to really get the most out of this app. But that guidance gives you a feeling of progress, where older versions of this app may have scared off novice users.
 
Verdict
This is the best image editing software available in the Windows Store. In fact, it could be the best software for editing images across platforms. Sure, it pricey, but for what you get there’s serious bang for your buck.

Xodo PDF Reader & Editor

3 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Annotate, sign and comment
  • Document management
  • Online collaboration
  • Free
  • Download

You can read PDF files from within Windows 10’s default browser Edge, but that’s only useful if you don’t want to do any editing. Signing a document or filling in a PDF form otherwise requires upload to a browser-based service, which can be a faff. That’s where Xodo comes in.

What’s good?
From signing with a saved signature to annotating documents, you can do it quickly and easily with Xodo. The layout is clear and simple, with easy-access menu buttons across the top. You can even have multiple documents open at once using a handy tab-based system.

The app also supports images, so you can photograph a document with your phone or tablet and this will turn it into a PDF easily – a really useful addition that we were pleasantly surprised by.

What’s bad?
Stylus support is functional but very basic, but that’s a small gripe with such a great app.

Verdict
A comprehensive PDF reader, creator and editor that’s free and features no ads. A one-stop-shop for everything PDF.

VLC Media Player

4 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Huge codec support
  • Network streaming
  • Free
  • Download

Unlike some video players that are limited to certain video file types, VLC is built to play it all. If you have a weird, old or generally rare codec that no other player can manage, VLC will be there to play it for you.

What’s good?
VLC is simple to use, frequently updated and there’s rarely a file it can’t play. You can hook it up to network streams from your NAS, and organise your media library

What’s bad?
The interface is quite basic, and doesn’t feel as advanced as the full Windows version.

Verdict

One of the best media players out there.

Torrex Pro

5 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Stream files while downloading
  • MKV support
  • Advanced download management
  • Price: £6.69
  • Download

Torrex Pro is a paid-for torrent app that’s frequently updated and easy to use.

What’s good?
Downloading files is super-easy, and there’s even a native search option within Torrex Pro so you can find your favourite open-source programs and royalty-free movies. This is a lean app that runs very smoothly.

There’s also a built-in media  player that allows you to watch a video before it’s even finished downloading – a nice touch for checking quality or getting a stream-like experience.

Perhaps the best feature, though, is that the app is constantly updated and the developers are adding new features all the time – as well as fixing bugs.

What’s bad?
Search is a little basic, and takes you to a browser-based window instead of a search page integrated into the program. The design could be a little cleaner, too.

Verdict
A fast and efficient way of downloading, previewing and watching torrents from multiple devices.

Converter for YouTube

6 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Download MP3 and MP4 formats
  • Ad-supported
  • Review price: Free (£3.09 to remove ads)
  • Download

This app allows you to download videos and audio from YouTube to be stored locally on your device, enabling you to watch or listen anytime. This is ideal for long journeys without an internet connection, on flights for example. Converter for YouTube is also a nice way to grow your music library without having to pay out for the songs.
 
What’s good?

The process of downloading YouTube videos and audio is as simple as copying and pasting the URL into the app. You can then pick the file type you want from a long list including both MP3 audio or MP4 video with an optional toggle for HD.
 
What’s bad?
While it’s simple to use, you still need to copy each YouTube URL into the app in order to convert the file. If you want to watch a whole series of YouTube videos, this could take a while. If you’re using the free version, you’ll also have to put up with ads flickering away on the bottom and down the right side of the screen. Plus, you’ll need to watch an advert of about half a minute before watching your downloaded video.
 
Verdict

A simple and effective way to store videos and music locally on your device. It’s definitely worth paying to ditch the ads, however.

Movie Edit Pro Plus Windows Store Edition

7 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Multi-track video editing
  • 360 video-compatible
  • 4K proxy editing
  • Review price: £69.49
  • Download

From simple movie building with sound all the way up to complex 4K proxy editing – where you edit a scaled-down version of your hi-res footage to improve program performance – 360-degree films and more, this is the one-stop shop for editing video on a Windows 10 S device.
 
What’s good?

For the price you get a lot of editing smarts, but it isn’t so complex that a novice can’t put together a holiday montage or create edited highlights of their school play. You can layer in multiple audio tracks, too, and add in effects, fades and lots more.
 
What’s bad?
This is a very bulky app that consumes a lot of resources. This isn’t a problem in itself, but it does feel like a more basic version with a few less features might have been better value, and more palatable for slower laptops.
 
Verdict

An excellent video editing tool for beginners and intermediate users.

The File Converter

8 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Support for dozens of video, audio, document, eBook and archive files
  • Cloud-based conversion
  • 1GB size limit
  • Price: £5.39
  • Download

This is a one-stop shop for file conversion. Simply find the file you want to open, decide which file type you’d rather it be in, and let this app’s mighty brain do all the work for you. The result is the ability to use any file you’re sent without having to go through the hassle of buying or downloading the right app to open it.

What’s good?
The File Converter is super simple to use. Just drag and drop files, or paste URLs, pick the file type you want to output and convert away. This works for documents, images, videos, audio, eBooks and even archive files such as ZIP and RAR.

What’s bad?

There are some limitations, like the fact that files need to be under 1GB. This isn’t ideal if you want to convert a high-quality movie file.

File conversions are done in the cloud, which is great for processing speed but less good if you’re on a slower connection – the whole file will have to be uploaded and then downloaded again before you open it.

Finally, the interface is very old-school Windows “Metro” and could do with an update.

Verdict
A very handy piece of software for annoying file types.

StaffPad

9 of 9

Score

Key features:

  • Handwriting recognition
  • Drag-and-drop musical notes
  • Review price: £54.09
  • Download

StaffPad lets you write sheet music almost as if you were writing it on paper. With smart handwriting recognition, you can doodle the notes down and they’ll be converted digitally.
 
What’s good?

Not only can you write whatever music you like – presuming you know your way around sheet music –  but you can also listen to it. This app will actually play back the written music so you can hear it immediately, which is invaluable if you want to write on the move without an instrument to hand. You can also annotate music using colour options, ideal for tweaking your own or changing an already-written piece of music.
 
What’s bad?
You’ll need to be patient as, sometimes, handwriting recognition can get things slightly wrong.
 
Verdict
This is a really well-made sheet music writing, editing and annotating app. It isn’t as accessible as Apple’s GarageBand, but it’s a fun way to start composing a song while on the move.