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5 tips to make Windows 8's Metro UI more practical and less irritating

Ian Paul | March 19, 2014
The desktop may be the UI of choice for most Windows users, but what do you do when the modern UI makes more sense?

This will let you set default apps for basic operations like your web browser, email client, music player, calendar, and so on. If you'd like to really dig down and set specific apps for specific file types you can do that by clicking at the option at the bottom of the Settings screen.

Load up on practical Metro apps
Windows 8 may not have the vast app catalog of Android or iOS, but a lot of the essentials are covered. Microsoft's built-in Mail app is good and appears ready to only get better with Windows 8.1 Update 1.

The People app works great for managing your contacts and viewing your latest social updates in one place. The Music app has you covered for local playback, premium digital downloads, and the freemium Xbox Music streaming music service. Facebook and Twitter both have modern UI apps.

Sports fans will appreciate the ESPN app, wFor watching your own videos, give the new beta version of VLC a try. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though—check out PCWorld's guide to the 25 Metro apps to install on your new Windows device STAT.

Round out your arsenal with Web apps
Okay, so there are a bunch of good apps in the Windows Store, but frankly, Microsoft's market is new enough that Metro apps are unlikely to meet all your needs. That's where web apps, the superb modern-style Internet Explorer 11 browser, and the ability to pin websites to the modern UI Start screen come in handy.

If you're a Spotify user, the music subscription service has a great web app. Netflix and other streaming video and music services work wonderfully in-browser, and Pixlr editor offers surprisingly strong image editing capabilities. You can pin any website to the Windows 8 start screen by opening it in the modern UI version of IE11 and pressing the Pin button next to the address bar, or by pressing the Favorites  star in Windows 8.1 and selecting Pin to Start in the menu that appears..

If you need to create a document, there's Google Drive and Office Online. (Another alternative for touchscreen users, is to use Office 2013 on the desktop in its enhanced, touch mode. When you're running this interface, Office offers larger and more separated menu items that make it easier to tap.)

Baby steps
The modern UI is not a perfect solution yet, but these tweaks to your workflow will should make using it much more practical. Got any more tips for working in the modern UI? Share them in the comments!


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