Windows 8, as you probably know by now, is dominated by the brand-new Metro interface. It appears when you first log in, and there’s no official way to disable it. Microsoft has tried very hard to convince us that the Metro interface is designed for mouse-and-keyboard desktop PC use, but that’s simply a barefaced lie: It’s a touch interface that’s primarily designed for small-screen devices — tablets, or touchscreen laptops at a stretch. In fact, Windows 8′s love of full-screen apps has led some of us here in the ExtremeTech bunker to affectionately refer to Microsoft’s new OS as Window 8.
What if you like the design or features of Metro apps, though? What if you want to use a specific Metro app, but don’t want to be forced into the full-screen, keyboard-and-mouse-hating, alt-tab-abhoring Metro interface? Well, thanks to Stardock’s ModernMix, you now can!
With ModernMix installed, you can run Metro (Modern, Windows 8-style UI) apps on the Windows 8 Desktop. With ModernMix, Metro apps essentially behave exactly like Desktop apps: They can be resized, minimized, maximized, and moved around your Desktop like any other window. They can even be pinned to the taskbar, or snapped to the side of your desktop with Aero Snap.
In practice, using Metro apps in windowed mode is… interesting. You lose some functionality, such as Metro’s built-in split-screen function and drag-down-to-close. Otherwise, though, the apps react as normal: The mouse scroll wheel is still your friend, and don’t forget that right click brings up the app’s settings and menus. Some Metro apps, of course, such as Internet Explorer and Mail, benefit greatly from being run in windowed mode (copy/paste!)
There are a few configuration options, most notably the option to force all Metro apps to start in a window on the Desktop. Beyond that, there isn’t much (but Stardock does say that it’s beta software, to be fair). There’s a curious option to run apps as full-screen Desktop apps — as in, like Metro apps, but without Metro’s drag-down-to-close.
Download ModernMix ($ 5, free 30-day trial)
Now, with Metro apps running on the Desktop, the final step to eradicate all traces of the Windows 8 interface is to install a Start menu replacement. If you’ve already done that, check out our huge archive of Windows 8 tips instead.