There are two different types of apps that run on Windows 8 devices. There are full-screen apps that use the “Modern” user interface and which you can download from the Windows Store. And there are desktop-style apps that look like software you’ve run on every version of Windows up until now.

Modern apps are touchscreen-friendly and support new gesture-based navigation such as pulling down from the top of the screen to close an app, or swiping from the left edge to switch between apps. But these apps aren’t as easy to resize or reposition on your screen as classic desktop-style software.

But it turns out there’s an app for that.

Stardock ModernMix

Stardock has released a public beta of a new app called ModernMix which lets you run Modern apps as if they were standard desktop apps. Each app can open in a resizeable window which you can move around the screen any way you like.

You can always flip back and forth between full screen and windowed mode by pressing a hotkey — the default is F10. And you can choose to only open apps in windowed mode if you launch them from the desktop if you like. That way apps will run as Modern apps when you bring them up from the Windows 8 Start Menu, but if you launch them from a desktop shortcut or by using a third-party Start Menu replacement (Stardock makes one of those too), you’ll be able to treat them like classic Windows apps.


All the Modern apps I’ve tested so far have looked at least as good in a small window as they do in full-screen mode. Interestingly, Windows 8 still treats these apps a little differently — if you swipe from the edge of a touchscreen or touchpad you’ll be able to cycle through your currently running Modern apps. But all of your classic Windows apps will be grouped together under “Desktop.”

In other words, I have a few windows open in my desktop including Chrome, Irfanview, and the ModernMix settings app – but using the Windows 8 app-switching gesture cycles through Netflix, the Windows Store, Weather, and Desktop.

If I use Alt+Tab instead of an edge-swiping gesture I can cycle through all of those apps and Chrome and Irfanview.

ModernMix is an interesting option for folks that really hate the Windows 8 Modern user interface, but who still want to access some of the Modern-style apps such as the Netflix or Kindle apps, for instance, or some of the games from the Windows Store.

The app sells for $4.99, but there’s a 30-day free trial available.

via Laptop Magazine

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4 replies on “ModernMix lets you run every Windows 8 app in desktop mode”

  1. I’m having trouble imagining why I would want to put a Modern app in a window. The only ones I deal with on a regular basis are the weather app, the skype app, and the hulu app, and I don’t really need access to the desktop while using those apps. I must admit to not really understanding the complaints about the disappearance of the start menu either, but that’s a different story.

    1. It’s mainly people who have no use for the Modern UI and just want to make sure their OS supports all the latest features, etc. but not actually change how they use the OS at all.

      For them, it’s preferable to keep everything working pretty much the same as traditional desktop.

      This is especially true of people who believe they are more productive while multi-tasking. Something that’s harder to do with every app full screen.

      Even though only about 4% of the population can naturally multi-task without becoming less productive. Most people have to train their brains for proper multi-tasking and thus most people only think they’re being more productive when multi-tasking.

      Since compartmentalizing, etc. is not something most people can do naturally…

      Also, people tend to resist change… especially, if they have to relearn how to do things. So lack of familiarity and learning curve help exaggerate the perception that the OS is harder to use than it actually is but that much should alleviate over time as people get used to the OS and how it works…

      There are some honest issues with W8, however… Since the Modern UI and desktop are essentially two different OS combined on the same system there are design issues throughout. Like how not all features and options are accessible from either the Modern UI or desktop Control Panels, switching between apps similarly being segregated, etc.

      Though, MS isn’t yet finished with W8… like previous Windows releases they’ll continue to work on it for the next few years but unlike the previous versions of Windows they’re open to more major changes as they’re adopting a upgrade system similar to how Apple updates OSX annually.

  2. In other words, for a few bux you can get basic functions that Microsoft could have included but didn’t to force you to love Metro/Modern. Why not just stick with Win7 and wait for Win9, it will almost certainly include both this and an option to restore the Start button. Assuming the first Service Pack for 8 doesn’t give into public pressure and restore a usable desktop environment.

    1. W9 will be over three years from now and not everyone is willing to wait anyway.

      3rd party modifiers for Windows is nothing new, there’s plenty for W7 too for features it doesn’t support out of the box either.

      So far it looks like RetroUI may be the better deal with a single user license of just $4.95 and it not only allows windowed Modern UI apps but also booting directly to desktop, Start Menu replacement, and a few other things.

      Though Stardock does have a massive 1 year subscription to all their W8 modifier apps for about $50 that’ll cover pretty much every aspect of the OS…

      While, we’ll see how the upcoming code Blue turns out for MS first major update to Windows 8… They’re basically adopting the same update business model as Apple has for OSX. So expect annual updates that will combine the equivalent of Service Pack releases with UI adjustments, fixes, possible new features, etc. Meaning MS may fix W8 long before W9 comes out.

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