Window 8 tablets combine the portability of an iPad with the functionality of a Windows computer. They can run the same desktop PC programs you use at the office, but when you’re on the go, touch-optimized Windows 8 apps are easier to use without a mouse and keyboard. The selection of apps in the Windows App Store is more limited than on iOS or Android, but most business users will find the software they need to get the job done. Here are eight of the best Windows 8 apps for business.
Splashtop Business (Free)
Splashtop Business can turn your Windows 8 tablet into an extension of your desktop workstation. After the app is set up, it provides quick access to your work PC or Mac, including your documents and media library, as well as all software installed on that machine. To establish a remote connection, your office computer must be turned on, but you don't have to leave it running all the time; Splashtop can wake your computer remotely when you're ready to access it. Splashtop Business is free, and provides tools to help you deploy the software to your employees. Account administrators can grant and revoke remote access to work machines, and view usage history at a glance.
If you can't meet face-to-face, remote videoconferencing is the next best thing. GoToMeeting is a solid videoconferencing app for Windows 8 that lets you host virtual meetings, with up to 25 attendees joining remotely from almost any Web-connected device. The service streamlines the process of scheduling a meeting and sending out invitations. It also boasts speaker identification, so you always know who is talking. You can share your screen for business presentations, and share your keyboard and mouse controls with other attendees for smooth collaboration.
Formerly known as SkyDrive, the OneDrive cloud storage platform stands out thanks to its tight integration with Microsoft Office. That means any documents, spreadsheets or presentations you create in Office can be automatically uploaded to your OneDrive account. One a file is uploaded, you can access it anywhere, from any device. OneDrive is also a good backup system for important documents, and lets you roll back to a previously saved version of a document anytime you want.
Evernote Touch (Free)
Evernote Touch is one of the best ways to take notes on the go. The Windows 8 app lets you dictate or manually enter notes, snap photos, create to-do lists and more. It features text identification, which can recognize and index printed — and even handwritten — text. That means you can search for specific words, whether they're in a PDF, a typed memo or a photographed note scrawled on a scrap of paper. Evernote is available for a wide range of platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Mac and PC, so you can access your notes on any machine and stay organized.
CamCard automates the process of adding new contacts to your address book. Just point your Windows 8 tablet's camera at a business card, and snap a photo. The app's text-recognition software will pull out the key details and update your address book automatically. It can even locate your new contact on LinkedIn so you can get a quick glimpse at his or her background, and see any mutual connections you have. You may have to correct some transcription errors before you finalize a new address-book entry, but compared to manual entry, you're sure to save time and energy.
Credit Card Terminal (Free)
You don't need a lot of special equipment to process credit card payments. With the Innerfence Credit Card Terminal, you can accept credit cards using your Windows 8 tablet. It's free to sign up and receive your first credit card reader, which plugs into the headphone jack of your mobile device. To complete a transaction, just open the Credit Card Terminal app, and swipe a credit card through the reader. The app offers useful features, such as the ability to capture signatures and email PDF receipts to customers. You can also view your transaction history in graph form to help track your sales over time.
Cerebral Accounting ($6.99/month or $160 for unlimited use)
With a Windows 8 accounting app such as Cerebral Accounting, you can complete your accounting responsibilities from anywhere. It's a fully featured finance-management app for businesses that lets you track transactions, payments, sales, receipts and more. It features a solid inventory-management system, as well as a backup-and-restore system to keep your finance data secure. Cerebral Accounting also lets you generate and manage invoices from right within the app. You can process up to 50 transactions per year for free; for unlimited access, you'll have to purchase the app outright for $160. Alternatively, you can rent the app for 30 days for $6.99.
Outside the traditional business-card exchange, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to network and make new connections in your field. Connecting with a new contact is as easy in the Windows 8 app as it is on LinkedIn's website. The app features a powerful search function to help you find the exact person you're looking for by name, location or professional details. Plus, the widespread use of LinkedIn ensures most professionals you meet will already have profiles.