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.