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Post-XPalypse: Surviving a world changed by Windows 8.1 features

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Windows 8 app store includes useful, free enterprise-class tools

You may think of the Windows Store as being only for consumers, but the Windows 8 app store includes several useful utilities for businesses.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year or so, you probably know that Microsoft has been making a concerted effort to gradually replace legacy Windows applications with modern apps. Even so, many people seem to view modern apps as something for consumers. Let's take a look at some Windows 8 apps that could prove useful in corporate environments. All of these are available in the Windows Store.

SkyDrive Pro

If your organization uses Office 365, then one app that you might consider taking a look at is SkyDrive Pro. The Microsoft app is free at the Windows 8 app store, and it serves as a graphical user interface to storage based on SkyDrive Pro or Microsoft SharePoint.

It is important to note that the SkyDrive Pro app works only with Office 365. It cannot be used with on-premises SharePoint deployments.

Syncplicity

Business users may also find Syncplicity to be a useful app. Syncplicity is a tool for synchronizing files in a way that allows end users to have a consistent experience across Windows 8 devices.

Although Syncplicity is based around cloud storage, it is not designed to be a consumer app. The enterprise edition supports the use of on-premises storage using EMC Isilon scale-out network-attached storage, EMC Atmos object storage, or EMC VNX/VNXe file-block storage and Vipr. Hybrid cloud storage is also supported.

In addition, Syncplicity provides enterprise features such as Active Directory integration, storage quotas, bandwidth throttling and deduplication.

DocScanner

There are plenty of utilities available for scanning paper documents and converting them into PDF files. However, DocScanner is unique, because it is designed to work without a scanner. Rather than requiring a flatbed scanner, DocScanner works by using your laptop's or tablet's webcam to take a picture of the document.

Although this approach to document scanning might seem a bit haphazard, the app's viewfinder provides real-time feedback on scan quality, thereby helping you to make sure that you get a good scan on the first attempt. Furthermore, DocScanner also supports scanning of multi-page documents.

GimmalPoint

GimmalPoint could best be thought of as a modern app interface for SharePoint. This utility allows you to view SharePoint sites, document libraries, task discussions, announcements or just about any other type of SharePoint data.

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In spite of these capabilities, GimmalPoint is more than just a graphical front end to SharePoint. The utility's best feature is its ability to establish simultaneous connections to multiple SharePoint farms. Furthermore, GimmalPoint's search engine can search across multiple farms at once. Those who use a variety of SharePoint resources will also appreciate the fact that GimmalPoint can pin frequently used SharePoint locations to the Windows Start screen.

In case you are wondering, GimmalPoint provides full interaction with SharePoint resources, not just view capabilities. For example, GimmalPoint can be used to check documents into or out of libraries or to participate in SharePoint workflows.

Back to the Drawing Board

Back to the Drawing Board might be the first CAD and technical drawing utility based on a modern app. This utility is able to import DXF drawings and can export drawings to DXF, SVG, PNG or JPEG format. The utility is specifically designed for creating 2-D elevations, charts and schematic diagrams.

Espresso Mind Map

Espresso Mind Map is a charting app that is specifically designed to help users outline ideas or map large and complex projects. The interface is intuitive, and it is easy to restructure a chart as ideas evolve. Espresso Mind Map is also commonly used as a tool for improving workflow efficiency.

KumoPrint

One of the major shortcomings of Windows RT devices is the unavailability of print drivers. KumoPrint is designed to make printing from a Windows RT device much more feasible. It is worth noting, however, that KumoPrint isn't limited to use with Windows RT. It works with Windows 8 as well.

KumoPrint works as an interface between Windows and Google Cloud Print. By doing so, KumoPrint allows you to print any document that is stored on your Windows device to any printer that has been configured with Google Cloud Print. The utility also lets you view the 50 most recent print jobs and delete or cancel print jobs if necessary.

As you can see, there are a number of modern apps that are suitable for use in business environments. In fact, the apps discussed here are only a sample. Many more are available at the Windows 8 app store, and new Windows apps are being created all the time.

This was first published in January 2014

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Essential Guide

Post-XPalypse: Surviving a world changed by Windows 8.1 features

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