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ModernMix runs Windows 8 Metro apps in traditional desktop windows


March 6, 2013

A new app, ModernMix, runs Windows 8 Metro apps on the desktop

A new app, ModernMix, runs Windows 8 Metro apps on the desktop

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Windows 8 is clearly a transition product. Microsoft is laying the groundwork for a more touch-friendly, mobile-oriented future. But it also isn't yet ready to throw out the familiar Windows desktop. The result is a dual nature – and a recipe for confusion. A new tweak, however, aims to smooth this Windows 8 transition.

Simplicity restored

Stardock’s new app ModernMix brings some much-needed consistency to the bipolar Windows 8. By default, Windows 8 runs traditional Windows apps on the desktop, and Windows Store (formerly “Metro UI”) apps in full-screen mode from the new start screen. After installing ModernMix, though, Windows treats Metro apps like Windows desktop apps.

This means Windows Store apps no longer have to run in full-screen. They can sit side-by-side with desktop Windows apps. And like all desktop Windows apps, you can do things like resize them or pin them to the taskbar. ModernMix will remember those settings the next time you open the app.

ModernMix also adds a handy menu in the top-right corner of windowed Metro apps to let you quickly toggle between full-screen and desktop mode.

Why do we need this?

So why didn’t Microsoft include this functionality by default? Why must Windows 8 customers throw down US$5 (after a 30-day trial) to simplify things?

It's probably tied to the company’s vision for the future of PCs. Microsoft doesn’t want its OS to feel exactly like the Windows of old. If ModernMix's functionality was included in Windows, perhaps it would be too easy to dismiss the new part altogether.

Forcing some degree of the full-screen Metro environment on Windows customers also increases familiarity with the look of Windows Phone and Windows RT. This could potentially create a halo effect, making customers more comfortable buying devices on those (struggling) platforms.

Windows Store apps’ modern UI may have a bright future, and that part of Windows 8 is much better-suited to multitouch. But, in the meantime, it creates a headache for countless desktop and laptop customers.

If you’re missing the days when everything revolved around the desktop, you can try a 30-day free trial of ModernMix at the source link below.

Source: ModernMix via Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

Microsoft is playing us to pay for what we already paid for. Buying a Microsoft product was an act of loyalty, but Microsoft has other ideas. The alternatives become more compelling.


Finally something to fix this fail called metro...


If Microsoft were a car manufacturer, you would have to buy a new 'app' for every use you wanted to put the car to that involved more than simply driving on perfectly smooth roads with no bends.

Now Microsoft wants us all to have backache from repeatedly reaching forward to touch our monitor screens because it does not want us to use the mouse. I assume they are not making enough profits from the mouse device.

Both Apple and Microsoft are really very unethical companies. A plague on both their houses. Why do I have to spend money on antivirus software because Microsoft sells a product that is vulnerable to cyber attack? Why do I have to purchae add on software because the registry keeps getting fouled up?

We can only hope that the computer industry comes a complete cropper and a more ethical ethos prevails with with those who rise in place of the Microsofts and Apples of today's world.

I always get the impression that all the Microsoft senior management have IT wizards at their beck and call whenever something goes wrong. What a pity. If they had to work on their own at home with no access to such people, they would know what a pain it is when the damn computer does something silly and the solution is not obvious. This is most likely to happen when up against a deadline.

Windows could be so much better and a hell of a lot safer.

Mel Tisdale

@funglestrumpet - Microsoft Security Essentials is free and keeps my Windows 7 (the one you should have gotten if you don't like 8) running all day. @everyone else. Don't upgrade to Windows 8. BOOM, free metro fix.


@funglestrumpet - I agree with you 100%.

When there is a problem with Windows or a program, trying to figure out how to fix it is difficult for most people over 40.

A lot of problems and error messages have nothing to do with a virus or other malware. It's just the way the operating systems were designed with a complete lack of concern for typical end users.


I agree metro is isn't very good but the security thing is a little bit of a usability tradeoff. If you didn't have to support any backwards compatibility you could make the system less vulnerable to attack but people would get angry about that.

Things like allowing execution of only signed software, locking out 3rd party software access to several parts of the OS and system etc. I think more could be done than is being done now but a total solution would require a lot of angry people and a few lawsuits.

One of the things I would like to see to help solve the problem is compartmentalizing different virtual environments into the system and having specific applications exist only within them. By compartmentalizing some applications to a built in VM instance or sandbox you limit exposure of the rest of the system.

There are platforms out there that help so solve the problem but the practice of quarantining applications to a sandbox isn't popular enough. Windows 8 pro has hyper-v support but support app sandboxing isn't done that well yet. One app I found is sandboxie that seems like it would be decent.


Most of what people dislike about Windows 8 is not a problem once you understand what Microsoft is trying to do (they've done a terrible job explaining how to think about the changes). Putting the cursor into the lower-left corner of the screen and left-clicking brings up the Start Screen (making that thumbnail a Start Button) and right-clicking brings up the power menu (a big improvement over previous versions of Windows).

The Start Screen itself is a big, beautiful, and fluid Start Menu; typing from the Start Screen to find programs, files, and settings is quick and convenient; mouse and touch gestures work great; and keyboard shortcuts are powerful (the Windows key is your friend). The OS is more responsive than 7.

But MS should not have bifurcated the interface. If they had to, they should have included the ability to run Metro apps windowed and legacy programs full-screen (metro-style) as an option.

Santiago Matamoros

"One of the things I would like to see to help solve the problem is compartmentalizing different virtual environments into the system and having specific applications exist only within them. By compartmentalizing some applications to a built in VM instance or sandbox you limit exposure of the rest of the system." @Daichi

There's an OS for that. It's called IBM OS/2 version 3.0. When did it have all that? In 1994.

Unfortunately, IBM couldn't sell water to a thirsty man in the Sahara when it came to desktop software. They needed a big games division like Microsoft established to help sell Windows 95.

Good to see this ModernMix software. Microsoft, no matter how much you try to push crap on people just because it's different, people will find a way around you, as they have many times before. I expect there to soon be a freeware, possibly open source bit of software that does the same thing.

Touch screens for sit down computing aren't taking off anytime soon. Why? For the same reason all "3D" pointing devices have been huge flops. Sticking your arms out and waving them around to operate a computer gets tiring real quick.

Bring up the success of the Wii and movement controls for PS3 and XBox 360. That's a completely different type of task than sitting and working. Most people don't wave controls at a TV for 8 hours a day playing games.

Gregg Eshelman

Microsoft should fire everyone on the Win8 team, and Steve Palmer should resign in shame. Then Microsoft should redesign Win8 without all those touch screen crap and gives it out to all existing Win8 users for free.


Um, why should anybody pay , what is it 3-5 dollars A MONTH (????) for to un-screw Windows 8? What a joke. I hate this monopoly. No wonder the really smart folks use Linux.

Erica Noble
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