ModernMix brings Windows 8 apps to the Desktop [Review]

Stardock ModernMix changes the way we interact with Windows 8 apps by bringing them to the Desktop in the traditional windowed environment.

As you may already have experienced the new Windows 8 apps (also often referred to as “Modern apps”, “Windows Store Apps” or “Metro style apps”) only run full-screen or snapped on either side of the display, and there aren’t any options to minimize, maximize or close, like traditional Windows applications do.

This new Microsoft approach perhaps is in the right direction, but thus far it makes more sense in a touch-enabled PC than with a keyboard and mouse. To overcome these limitations Stardock created ModernMix, which is an application that a difference from its previous applications, such as Start8 to bring back the Windows Start menu or Fences to organize the desktop, it was designed to enable users to run Metro style apps in the Windows desktop — This is funny considering that the Windows 8 Desktop is also an app.

It does this by encapsulating apps in their own window and taking advantage of functionalities found in traditional desktop applications, such as: Snap view, pin to taskbar, and the usual wrapped around window with the minimize, maximize and close buttons. Also the application remembers the Modern app size and location so every time it starts in the same place.

You’ll also notice a new discrete switch mode menu on every app that when hovered it unveils three options:  the left one is to run the Windows 8 app in its traditional chromeless full-screen experience, the one on the right detaches the app from its normal view and transforms it into a traditional windowed application. And finally there is the “X” at the bottom, but we all know what that does, right? It closes the Windows 8-style app.


Other features include: configure how the apps start by default from the Start screen or from the Windows 8 Desktop. Plus users can control the overlay in the top right corner to switch modes, enable or disable ModernMix with a hotkey. Users also get the option to remove the animated flip when launching apps and show apps on the taskbar.

Microsoft has been trying to push for this new full-screen experience in Windows 8, but thus far it only led to many users being disappointed. However, today there is ModernMix and it does an amazing job by providing people an alternative for those who still not ready to embrace the new Windows 8 UI, while still taking advantage of the new chromeless apps.

Personal note: I’ve been using ModernMix extensively and so far it works pretty good. The installation is straightforward, I am not experiencing high memory or CPU utilization, and Windows 8 apps adapt very well when resizing the window. But one thing I noticed is that you cannot stretch apps beyond the screen’s maximum pixel resolution.

The Stardock’s app still in beta and it does come with a price, which now is $4.99, but of course, there is trial version for those wanting to try it.