Dell recommends Windows 8.

Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 5/23/2013 | 23 comments

Brien Posey
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you are no doubt aware that Windows 8's new user interface has been the source of a tremendous amount of frustration and confusion for users everywhere.

One of the design aspects that has proven to be the most problematic for end-users is Windows 8's schizoid view of applications. Legacy Windows applications are launched from, and run within, desktop mode. Meanwhile, Windows 8's new Modern Apps are run through the Start screen interface formerly known as Metro.

Thus users may find themselves constantly having to switch between the two modes. They will undoubtedly find it irksome to have to constantly switch between Modern App mode and desktop mode, and this dichotomy between the two modes can impede user productivity.

For decades users have been running applications in windows. As you know, these windows can be moved around, resized, and closed on a whim. Modern Apps do not provide the same flexibility. Modern Apps are designed to run full-screen (although Windows does offer a provision for a split-screen view of two Modern Apps). The point is that borderless apps running in full-screen mode will probably confuse users who are not used to the Windows 8 interface. After all, there is no obvious way to close these applications, and the normal controls for moving or resizing the applications are gone.

So far there have been two predominant solutions to this problem. One solution has been to simply stick with a previous version of Windows instead of upgrading to Windows 8. In many cases this is perfectly reasonable. Windows 7 was a good operating system and remains a perfectly viable solution. Similarly, there is no shortage of organizations that have found Windows XP to be quite acceptable in spite of the fact that Microsoft is retiring it next year.

Of course, Windows 8 does offer some really nice features that organizations can only get by upgrading to the new OS. Those who want to use such features have often adopted an alternative solution for dealing with Windows 8's interface confusion -- to run only desktop apps and avoid Modern Apps like the plague. Again, this is a perfectly acceptable solution for many, but it does mean the organization might miss out on running some newer apps.

Believe it or not, there is a third answer to this problem. Microsoft does allow a single Modern App to be "snapped" to the desktop, but snapping offers very limited options for resizing or repositioning the application. A better solution is to resort to third-party software.

Stardock Software offers a utility called ModernMix that can be used to run Modern Apps in desktop mode. Not only do the apps run in desktop mode, but they even run inside of windows, which means that the applications can be repositioned, resized, etc.

Unfortunately, ModernMix isn't free, but a license costs only $5 (and a 30-day free trial is available). When you consider the cost of interface-related helpdesk calls, the $5 licensing fee may be well justified.

I remain optimistic that the Windows 8.1 update will address some of the issues with the new interface. I see no reason, for example, why Microsoft could not retrofit Windows 8 with a Start menu (although there are now many third-party utilities that bring back the Start menu). In the meantime, however, you may be able to help users to cope with the new interface by taking advantage of utilities such as ModernMix.

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anthony.nima   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   6/29/2013 11:28:59 PM
Re: I'm wondering
@Trek: Sounds good. Have they completed the competition? What are the findings of it ?      
michaelsumastre   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   6/25/2013 12:00:01 PM
Re: Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop
If you like Windows 7 there are plenty of reasons to upgrade. Under the surface of the new interface, Windows 8 is an even more stable OS with more or improved features. In essence it builds up on the good reputation of Windows 7 and started to consider new ways of computing. As for running modern apps on Windows 8, wouldn't that sort of reduce the entire purpose of the new UI? Full screen apps help in reducing distractions, and like I said there are several ways to app-switching if necessary. Then again you are right, Windows 8.1 should lessen the pain of transitioning, especially with the Start button and booting to desktop a touted feature/update.
Susan Fogarty   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   6/5/2013 12:14:52 PM
Re: I'm wondering
Trek, thanks for the link to the app contest. It looks like they are also offering free seminars in conjunction with the contest. That's probably a good strategy to get app production flowing.
Randomus   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/31/2013 11:28:26 AM
Re: Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop
Michael: It's not that I necessarily hate Windows 8; rather, I just like Windows 7 more than this touch-based OS.  However, I haven't completely disregarded Microsoft and very much look forward to testing out 8.1 and see how it goes.
Trek   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/29/2013 4:46:39 PM
Re: I'm wondering
F.Y.I.  Microsoft is having a contest for Microsoft Application Developers. 

"Have app ideas?  Have software development skills?  If so, that's all you need to learn, compete and win! 7 Cities, 100's of developers and 1000's of great ideas. The opportunity is NOW! Don't miss another chance to get in on the next great marketplace! Get your competitive juices flowing and participate in a FREE Windows 8 App Factor event."  windows8appfactor.com

anthony.nima   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/29/2013 10:58:26 AM
Re: I'm wondering
@SaneIT: Indeed. They are trying to cover up the loop holes with new additions and features which might take the users for a ride. 
SaneIT   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/29/2013 7:10:41 AM
Re: I'm wondering
I kind of figured MS might be putting the stops to any desktop emulator solution.  It just seemed like a smoother way to introduce the Modern UI.  I know they really want this UI to take off so I'm thinking an emulator inside of the Modern UI would be better for that then making people switch back and forth between UIs.
Zaius   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/28/2013 11:11:32 PM
Re: I'm wondering
@Sane: 
I believe the obstacle is from MSFT. They are trying to get people away from theri old habit and old comfort zones. The use of emulator would give  some consolation for those who miss their good old environment/ UI.
Susan Fogarty   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/28/2013 9:36:28 PM
Re: Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop
LOL, Trek, that is great feedback from users. Unfortunately people really like to complain! One of my favorite "mother" lines is "If you don't like it, don't complain to me about it -- find a way to change it." The result is most often that they don't do anything about their problem, but they do stop complaining (for the moment) :)
Susan Fogarty   Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop   5/28/2013 9:31:31 PM
Re: Get Modern Apps on the Windows 8 Desktop
Michael, that's really interesting that you are having different experiences with Win 8. What apps does your wife use most frequently use on the laptop -- does that make a difference?

I also think it is pretty smart to learn about the new OS. Why not?
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