Windows 8.1 Update 1 + ModernMix?

Windows 8.1 Update 1 + ModernMix?

It's like chocolate and peanut butter

When you consider that Windows 8.1 Update 1 goes halfway towards integrating Modern apps with the Windows desktop, an obvious thought occurs: Why not complete the picture with a third party utility like ModernMix? I've tested this combination, and while I do believe a future ModernMix update will address the issues, it's not quite seamless at this moment.

If you've been following along with my Windows 8.1 Update 1 articles, you know that this relatively minor but important update to Windows 8.1 adds, among other things, the ability to pin Modern apps to the desktop's taskbar and, separately, to display running Modern apps to the taskbar automatically. These are nice changes for anyone that uses the desktop primarily but likes to use Modern mobile apps too.

There's just one problem: When you switch to a Modern app from the desktop, it still runs full-screen, and you can't see the taskbar or any other running mobile apps and desktop applications, let alone the Windows desktop. I reported previously, however, that Microsoft will be adding the ability to run Modern mobile apps in windowed mode on the Windows desktop. (See "Threshold" to be Called Windows 9, Ship in April 2015 for more about that important release.) So by the time Windows 9 hits, we should have a more complete integration between the desktop and Modern apps.

However, you may also recall a wonderful little utility from Stardock called ModernMix. (If not, check out two of my posts, Windows 8 Tip: Run Metro Apps in Windows on the Desktop and Windows 8.1 + ModernMix for more information.) That tool lets you run Modern apps in windowed mode on the desktop right now.

Does it work with Update 1?

Yes and no. There are two specific issues.

First, the Update 1 method for pinning Modern apps to the taskbar is not compatible with the ModernMix method. So if you do pin a Modern app using Windows and then launch it from the taskbar, you'll get a second taskbar button.

The solution is to pin Modern apps with ModernMix, and not from the Start screen. If you do that, the pinned buttons work as expected.

The second issue is that Update 1 adds a new title bar to Modern apps. But when you run such an app in windowed mode in Update 1, that title bar appears at the top of the screen, not at the top of the app window. (Indeed, to activate it, you need to mouse up to the top of the screen as well.)

(Furthermore, the menu items in that new Control Menu don't respect the desktop of course. If you select minimize, you return to the Start screen. And if you choose a Split option, the app snaps with the desktop.

These behaviors are a little weird, but it's not completely unusable.

My expectation is that Stardock will improve ModernMix to adapt to the changes in Windows 8.1 Update 1. But in the meantime, if you can live with these two oddities, this combination is still a useful solution and a nice peek at how Windows will most certainly evolve going forward.

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