Q

Metro apps for the Windows 8 UI won't run on prior OSes

The Windows 8 UI hasn't won any popularity contests, but there are workarounds for it, unlike for Windows 8 Metro apps and Windows XP or Windows 7.

Can Windows 8 Metro apps run in Windows XP or Windows 7?

No, Windows 8 Modern user interface (UI) applications will not run on prior versions of Windows. Microsoft created those special apps just for Windows 8. I'm not convinced that many people are even running these apps -- especially in an enterprise environment. Perhaps that's why information about the total number of downloads for each app is not readily available in the Windows Store.

The Windows 8 UI wasn't popular initially, especially for business use on non-touchscreen systems. Originally known as the Windows 8 Metro interface, the streamlined Windows 8 UI and related application architecture caused many IT shops to hesitate moving from Windows XP or Windows 7. This was partially remediated when Microsoft took a half-hearted step and brought back the Start button in Windows 8.1.

You can still run Windows 8 in a Windows-7-like mode using Start8 or some similar tool that brings back not only the Start button, but also the Start Menu and the Windows desktop that we've all come to depend on. In fact, I run most of my computers this way.

As another example, Windows 8.1 is optimized for bring your own device, or BYOD, environments, with features such as Workplace Join and Work Folders, but you should still consider third-party tools.

The benefits of Windows 8 far outweigh the Modern UI's drawbacks. If you choose to go this route, you can run the new Windows 8 apps in the intended way (within the Modern UI), or you can use a product such as ModernMix. This program allows you to run Windows 8 UI apps in a traditional window on the Windows 7-like desktop.

Next Steps

Consider Windows 8 BitLocker and encryption alternatives

Don't worry about Windows 8; focus on what the OS really does

Use whitelisting in addition to Windows 8 malware prevention and removal

Desktop vulnerability reviews should remember Windows 8 security

This was first published in August 2014

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Kevin Beaver asks:

Have you used any Windows 8 UI workarounds, such as restoring the older look? Was the lack of a Start button or Metro apps with older versions of Windows a deal-breaker?

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