We have seen attempts before to bring Windows 8 apps to the desktop of the operating system. RetroUI Pro can do that for instance but all implementations up until now did not feel fluent enough. This changes with today's release of Stardock's newest program for Windows 8, ModernMix.
One of the big complaints that many Windows 8 users have is that the start screen of the operating system is limiting how apps can be displayed on it. You can either display apps in fullscreen, or in 1/3 or 2/3 of the screen if the apps have been created for that. There is no option to display apps in different resolutions or screen sizes which may not be a problem if you are running an application that makes good use of the screen estate, but running a calculator in full screen on a 1920x1080 screen is just overkill and not something that many users would want to do.
ModernMix falls right into the line of Stardock products that have been created to resolve popular issues in regards to Windows 8. Start8 for instance was created to bring back the start button to the operating system and provide users with options to enable or disable certain aspects of the interface.
Decor8 on the other hand added an option to add a custom desktop background to the operating system's start screen, something that Microsoft did not make available natively as well.
And now ModernMix. Once you have installed the program, - download is somewhat of a hassle as you need to enter an email address on the download page to receive a download link to that email address - you can configure how Windows 8 apps are opened on the system.
You configure if Windows 8 apps should be launched in full screen, in a windowed full screen mode, or as a window, and that for apps launched from the start screen and from the desktop. You can for instance configure ModernMix to launch Windows 8 apps like before when you run them from the start screen interface, but in a window when you run them from the desktop.
The implementation itself is excellent as it enables you to run one or multiple Windows 8 apps in windows on the desktop just like any other program installed on the computer. You can move those windows around, resize them or close them just as easily without any issues or problems that the full screen nature of apps usually results in.
What is interesting is that many apps become quite usable once you run them in a window as opposed to full screen. The mail app for instance feels a lot better in windowed mode as it is now a lot easier to copy and paste contents into emails or look something up while you are writing the email without losing focus.
Running those apps in windows on the desktop is a great experience and it is quite puzzling why Microsoft did not implement apps this way in the operating system.
Up until now I thought that a start menu is the essential program that you need to install right away when you run Windows 8. From today on, I'd say ModernMix is the program to go first before you install any other program on Windows 8.
Note that the program will be available for $4.99 after a 30 day trial period. I personally think it is well worth that.
The developers have added a couple of options to the program. You can for instance use the F10 hotkey to switch between modes quite easily. The program furthermore displays a small overlay in the top right corner of the screen if apps are run in fullscreen that enables you to switch between different view modes easily.
Here is a demo of the program in case you want to see it in action.
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