Seamless Integration of Modern Apps with the Classic Desktop

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Run modern apps in windows
  • (4 more, see all...)

For many Windows 8 users one of the problems with the modern apps is that they function in the modern screen and cannot transgress to the classic desktop. Stardock fixed this by releasing ModernMix, a nifty solution that allows you to treat Windows 8 apps as if they were regular applications.

Although it is not as popular as Start8 (reviewed here), which brings a Start Menu to Windows 8, ModernMix does not fall short when it comes to functionality.

The application is available for $4.99/3.84EUR, but you can test it freely for a period of 30 days if you register with an email account.

During the installation procedure, you are also offered to put Start8 on the system, which is available for the same $4.99/3.84EUR price. You can opt out of this and continue with installing ModernMix.

At the end of the procedure, you are run through a brief introductory tutorial about what the application can do for you.

Stardock’s application functions right off the bat, giving you the possibility to work with the modern UI apps in Windows 8 on the classic desktop, in an adjustable interface. Moreover, you can pin them to the taskbar or create a shortcut on the desktop.

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Depending on the environment they are deployed from, you can choose to launch in full-screen or in windowed mode. By default, apps ran from the Start Screen are full-screen and those started from the desktop run in an interface of their own.

However, you can easily change this from the configuration panel, which provides a third possibility: full-screen mode with visible taskbar. Furthermore, ModernMix can use their last state.

Pressing F10 key switches between the two modes. The same is achieved from the control overlay menu present in the top right part of each modern app. If seeing it there bothers you, there is the option to make it visible only when moving the mouse cursor over it.

Since our initial review of the program, the developer added a new menu, Advanced, that enables more control over the actions triggered by the modern apps and the way they appear on the screen.

You can choose to view full-screen apps in the taskbar or disable the animated flip when they run in this mode. For convenience reasons, ModernMix offers the possibility to return to the modern Start Menu after closing a full-screen app, but there is also the choice to view the classic desktop.

One important option is limiting the size of the windowed apps. There are two choices to pick from: either limit the height to 768 pixels or make the window at least 1024 pixels wide and 768 tall.

In order to ensure easy access to the apps, Stardock’s product is able to keep them in the app switcher list (app bar) to the left of the screen or create a shortcut. Furthermore, the developer took into consideration potential usage on touch-enabled devices and proposes larger overlay icons to easily make the switch from full-screen mode.

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“App settings” section has also been enriched with new options. In the previously reviewed release there was only the possibility to customize the way each app launched. Now the list also includes always forcing full-screen mode, creating a shortcut on the classic desktop and launch command.

ModernMix has become more versatile, but working with it remained as simple as before. It allows you to configure how the most frequently used apps launch at the same time offering general settings for the other apps so that their deployment does not affect the way you work with Windows 8.

It functions in the background, as a service, so once set up you might just forget about ModernMix and think that having the new apps running in their own interface is actually how Microsoft designed Windows 8 to work.

Besides improving functionality, some of the new functions introduced since we first tested the program have also set things right in some cases, such as the apps still being present in the app bar after closing them.

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The Good

Seamless integration with Windows 8 makes it seem part of the original design plan for the operating system.

It packs plenty of options that regulate the way modern apps are deployed and the environment the user should land in after closing them.

Each app can be customized individually and can be accessed from the classic desktop either by creating a shortcut or by pinning it to the taskbar.

The Bad

It is quite difficult to come up with a downside for a program this simple and efficient.

However, pushing additional Stardock products during the installation procedure and asking for a valid email address in order to test it can be listed as shortcomings; although these do not relate to the program itself but the company’s efforts to increase their user base.

The Truth

When we first reviewed the application it was in beta stage of development. Since then, it gained a lot in functionality by adding a more diverse set of options.

Becoming more versatile did not impact on usability, though, and ModernMix remains as easy to use as before.
user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 

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