August 20, 2013
I know that’s quite a title! But let me explain.
Windows 8 has a number of detractors, mostly from folks who use it on a desktop computer. In a mouse driven rig, the missing Start menu, the dual control panels, and so on can be frustrating. I have gotten used to most of those—I even like the Start screen now. And the upcoming Windows 8.1 makes it even better.
But one big irritation I still have with Windows 8 on an office computer remains: being forced into full-screen mode just to view an attachment or to check the weather using a Windows Store app. I have a 24-inch monitor, and it seems to explode when I launch one of those. I don’t need 24 inches of huge fonts and massive graphics just to see a stock quote! And I don’t want to lose sight of all my other work when I check the weather or view an attachment.
ModernMix to the Rescue
Well, there’s a solution, and it’s a third-party application called ModernMix. Once installed, it forces Windows Store apps to launch into a reasonably-sized and normal computer window on my Windows 8 desktop. Windows 8 no longer explodes! And I can still see my other work. I can resize the window, move it to the side, minimize it, and so on. I have been using ModernMix for a few days now on my office computer, and I feel like using Windows 8 Store apps on a desktop computer finally makes sense!
Full Screen Mode Can Make Sense Too (On a Tablet)
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the full-screen mode of Windows 8 apps. That’s because that mode really works when I am using my 10-inch Windows 8 Pro tablet. In fact, the old desktop mode is just plain wrong on that tablet when holding it like an iPad. The problem is it’s just too easy to catch a control with the fingers that are holding the tablet. I often end up accidentally hitting the taskbar and switching programs or windows. And the menus on the desktop are hard to manipulate with my fingers—they are just too small. I wish I did not need to use desktop mode at all with my tablet—but I need it for Outlook and other programs that still have no equivalent in Windows Store. So I understand the need for full screen apps, and I look forward to when most Office applications are converted over.
Under a Bus
The problem is, in the meantime Microsoft is force-feeding us the tablet experience. I see why. Analysts predict that tablet sales will outpace PC sales by the end of this year. So Microsoft needs to convince everyone that Windows 8 is a superior tablet solution (and I really think it is). But in doing so, I feel like Microsoft has thrown non-tablet users—that is, regular office-computer users—under a bus. Using your office computer at a desk with Windows 8, those full-screen apps are just plain irritating.
So I welcome ModernMix. I usually avoid add-in software that modifies the Windows operating system (at least one reader told me ModernMix caused them some OS problems and so decided to uninstall it), but it works fine for me and I now cannot live without it. And thanks to Paul Thurrott’s article for bringing ModernMix to my attention.