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The Difference between Modern and Desktop Apps in Windows 8

The Windows 8 operating system experience is broken down into two basic application features. The first is the traditional desktop-based application, where the app runs the same as what you’re used to from Windows 7 and earlier. The second option, however, is completely different from what the OS has offered in the past and is known as Modern, formerly called Metro.

Modern apps appear as tiles on the Start Screen of Windows 8 ,and an individual has to only click or tap one of the tiles in order to launch the service. So far, individuals have been a bit slower to take advantage of these features, though. Statistically, only 1.4 Modern applications are launched per day on a desktop computer. The more portable the device, the more often an individual is prone to launch a Modern application, though, as a laptop user opens such apps 1.51 times a day, a touchscreen laptop user opens one up 2.22 times a day and a tablet user opens a new Modern application 2.71 times a day.

Of course, a user does open more than just three programs every day, so looking at the differences between Windows 8 Modern applications verses the desktop versions is important.

The Difference between Modern and Desktop Apps in Windows 8
Skype in Windows 8’s Modern user interface.

The Difference between Modern and Desktop Apps in Windows 8
The standard Desktop version of Skype.

Limited Availability

The Windows 8 Metro applications are designed to run much like mobile apps that a user might find on their smartphone. These applications are essentially designed to access small amounts of data and stay away from file information that is not important to the application. This keeps the apps snappy and responsive but they’re also confined to smaller services.

On the other hand, a traditional desktop application is larger, is able to work with more information and can receive approval from the admin of the device to access information from other outside sources. Basically, the desktop version is usually larger, more powerful and requires more data, although because it does need information from multiple locations, it traditionally requires a bit more time to boot up and load.

Running at the Same Time

There are two different versions of applications for the modern and desktop features. However, these applications are different from one another, as the modern application is more streamlined and doesn’t have as many features as the desktop application. While these are two distinct applications, it is not a good idea to run both applications at the same time. Despite having many different features, the two apps do utilize many of the same files and resources on the drive.

When the two different apps are competing for the same files while running, this can cause one, if not both of the applications to crash, have permissions errors, or corrupt saved files. Therefore, it’s a good idea to run one or the other, but not both.


The Metro applications are only available through the Windows 8 App Store. These applications are all approved by Windows, and usually the very best applications run well and don’t have any kind of malware or bloatware. However, if the publisher ever runs afoul of Microsoft, the app can be completely removed from the App Store, which means you’ll lose out on updates.

The desktop versions are larger and can be purchased from a local retail store or downloaded from a third party website. This gives you a greater advantage for finding the kind of program you need. The lack of an App Store for these apps increases the chance of malware installing with the app, though.

Focused Content

Modern applications are streamlined versions of larger desktop applications. It is possible to have the exact same application in tile form and on the desktop, but the two are going to look a bit different. The Modern application is focused, doesn’t have all of the toolbars and other set features and essentially pushes you right to the point so you can get in and get out.

However, the desktop application is larger, provides more settings and features, and gives a more in-depth experience. It really comes down to what user preferences are. Sometimes the desktop version is needed where more adjustment and alteration tools are required, and other times the streamlined, modern version is required in order to stay on target and on task.

There are many different features associated with these two different kinds of applications. There are times where the desktop version is necessary, as it is larger and provides more information, while other times the Modern option is better, because it is focused on a smaller, more streamlined service.

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