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3 Favorite Windows 8 Modern Apps

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

There are a lot of good Windows 8 modern apps out there, and with the addition of ModernMix which allows you to put those apps on the desktop, they are even better.  I’ve been trying out a bunch of modern apps and wanted to share a few of my favorites that I have come across.

When normally using these apps in the modern start screen in Windows 8, they are full screen.  As you can see in my desktop screenshot I’m using ModernMix and running them in windows on my desktop so I can have multiple apps open making the most of the space on my desktop. 

Try it here!


Package Tracker

I receive a decent amount of packages, and ship some too and having an app that can keep track of those is essential.  Package Tracker lets you enter the tracking numbers from a wide variety of delivery services and will notify you with the delivery status of your packages.  It’s $2.99, but well worth it if you need to track packages.  If you have a Windows Phone they also have an app that will sync with that.



Pulse News

This is a fantastic Windows 8 modern app for the popular Pulse News.  You might have heard of Pulse News before, they have apps for other platforms and web browsers, but the Windows 8 app is really nice.  This app lets you pull together news from your favorite outlets and gives you several viewing options to read them.  I get lots of news updates from this and your feeds will also sync with other devices you use this service on.  Another great thing, it’s free!




I guess this is technically a game, but still falls under the Windows 8 category.  Wordament is a fast and fun word game you can play online where you try to put together as many words as you can in the time allowed.  It’s a fun casual game and it’s free, so give it a try.  This is another example of an app that works great with ModernMix as you don’t need the full screen to play this game.


ModernMix 1.0 release is available for download now!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: Press Releases (WC)


ModernMix™ gives users the capability to run Windows® 8 Modern (Metro) apps in resizable windows on the desktop. This contrasts with the native behavior of Modern apps, which always run full screen on a user’s display regardless the amount of information an app needs to display.

ModernMix also introduces the capability to pin Modern apps to the taskbar, create desktop shortcuts to them and switch between running apps in a way that will be familiar to users of previous Windows releases.


  • Run Windows 8 Modern apps in a window on the desktop
  • Display and pin Modern apps on the taskbar
  • Explicitly close Modern apps by clicking their close button
  • Create desktop shortcuts for Modern apps
  • Access the Charms bar from an app’s window
  • And more!

How to get it:

ModernMix v1.0 is available as a free 30-day trial or can be purchased for $4.99

To learn more visit:

strsoft mmix_bradSS 3.26_ng

3 Desktop Tools to Get the Most Out of Windows 8

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

As Windows 8 gains traction with users upgrading their current OS and people purchasing new PCs, the desire to find solutions to common issues has also risen. While Windows 8 is a fine OS overall, there’s still lots that can be done in terms of usability and functionality.

That’s where these 3 desktop tools step in.

Let’s take a look at some shortcomings of Windows 8, and how we’ll correct them.


Bring back the Start Menu

Yes, Windows 8 does not include the start menu you have been using for years and years. The start button and menu are gone, replaced by the new “Modern” start screen. The start screen is useful, but there’s no reason you can’t have it and the start menu as well.

Start8 brings the start menu back and better than what Windows ever delivered. There’s also several styles of the start menu you can choose from, so you can customize it to how you like. Start8 can be configured to automatically take you to the desktop when your computer starts, disable hot corners, show a start button on a second taskbar, customize the start button image and many other features.

Try it free for 30 days [Link] | $4.99 [Link]

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Run Modern (Metro) Apps on the Desktop

The Windows 8 start screen runs “Modern” apps (previously referred to as Metro apps). There’s some really great apps available such as Netflix, Rowi, SkyDrive, and many others. The problem is these apps only run in full screen making them less useful, especially for users with larger screen sizes.

ModernMix takes those same Modern apps and allows you to run them in a window on the desktop, just as you would with any other desktop app that you normally use. You can also pin those applications to the taskbar and ModernMix will explicitly close the Modern apps when closed with the close button.

Try it free for 30 days [Link] | $4.99 [Link]


Customize the Windows 8 Start Screen

ModernMix and Start8 help improve the functionality of Windows 8, and last up we have Decor8 which lets you customize the background in the Win8 start screen. This is something else you can’t change unless it’s one of the included images in Windows. Whether you want to use your own custom images, or a picture from your image library, Decor8 can take of it. Other features give you the ability to create your own Windows 8 color scheme, randomize the backgrounds for the start screen, and change the image of the login screen.

Try it free for 30 days [Link] | $4.99 [Link]

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ModernMix Windows 8 app news round-up

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by Frogboy | Discussion: Personal Computing

To say the response to ModernMix has been overwhelming would be an understatement.  In the 20 years that Stardock has existed, we’ve never put something out that has has been this positively received, this fast.

To recap: Last week we put out the first beta of ModernMix, a program that lets users run Windows 8 ModernUI (Metro) apps in a window, on the desktop.  It’s a free download that you can also buy for $5 (which gets you the full beta and final version).

The reaction has been universally positive. But also, people (including myself) have found that ModernMix may be the single best thing to happen to ModernUI apps. It makes them relevant because many of them are really good – but not something you’d want to dominate a 22 inch monitor.


Can anyone seriously say that these ModernUI apps would be better run full-screen on a large monitor?

Here are some of the headlines:

Here’s the $4.99 utility that might just have saved Windows 8 [The Register]

Slick Trick: $5 tool runs Modern apps on the Windows 8 desktop [Computerworld]

Start8 and ModernMix – Windows 8’s last, best hope for normality on the desktop (ZDNet)

ModernMix Runs Windows 8 Full-Screen apps on the desktop (LifeHacker)

Run and resize Modern Windows 8 apps on the desktop (Neowin)

Windows 8 tip: Run Metro Apps in windows on the desktop (WinSuperSite)

ModernMix: Makes Windows 8 better by running Metro apps on the desktop (

Stardock’s ModernMix lets you use Windows 8 apps in desktop mode (WinSource)

ModernMix runs Windows 8 Metro apps in traditional desktop windows (GizMag)

This five-dollar app solves the biggest problem with Windows 8 (CiteWorld)

ModernMix: Runs Windows 8 apps on the desktop (The Windows Club)

How to run Windows 8 apps on the desktop with ModernMix (CNET)

Stardock ModernMix app allows ALL Windows apps to run in desktop mode (Mobile Magazine)

ModernMix enables all Windows 8 apps to run on the desktop (Geeky Gadgets)

ModernMix lets you run Windows 8 apps in a window on the desktop (WinBeta)

ModernMix Fixes Windows 8, runs all apps on the desktop (Laptop Magazine)

And these are just the ones I know about and is by no means complete (and it hasn’t even been a week since the beta went out).

Lifehacker Says ModernMix Might be the best Five Bucks a Windows 8 User can Spend

Friday, March 08, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Just a day after release, ModernMix has gotten a great response from Windows 8 users so far.  Today Lifehacker takes a look and says, “ModernMix isn't free; after a 30-day trial, to continue using it, you'll need to pay $4.99. But it's the best five bucks you might ever spend if you're a Windows 8 user.”

Read more at Lifehacker -


How to get Metro apps in a window on your desktop

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 by Frogboy | Discussion: Personal Computing

Stardock released the first BETA of ModernMix today.  In a nutshell: Modern apps (often called Metro or RT apps) on Windows 8 are forced to run full-screen no matter what.  If you have a 20 inch monitor (or larger) you know how absurd it is for many of these apps to be running full-screen.

If you want to grab it right now you can at

Once ModernMix is installed, all those Metro apps can run windows on the desktop. They even show up on the taskbar which means you can pin them for easier later launch.

Let me show you, in pictures, what this means:


There’s a really good Metro version of Netflix. But without ModernMix, this has to run full-screen. If I want to watch Netflix full screen, I’ll watch it on my TV.  The whole point of watching something on a PC is that you can have it in a window while you do other stuff.

This brings me to the second window: The music app. Every time I want to mess with my play list or whatever, I don’t expect to have to switch to a big full screen app to do this.  iTunes doesn’t make me do this. But the Windows 8 music app does – unless you have ModernMix. Now I can keep it in a little window if I want and click on it if I want to do something.


One of the best Metro apps on Windows 8 is the ESPN app. But again, on my desktop PC, why would I want to have this app be full screen?

One nice thing about ModernMix is that those windows are resizeable and most of them, remarkably enough, almost seem to have been designed to be resized.


The result is that ModernMix suddenly makes the Windows 8 app ecosystem relevant. I’m finding myself actually interested in them because they don’t get in the way of the other things I’m trying to do with my PC.


As a practical matter, no app can be designed to be all things to all people in terms of the user experience. That’s one of the reasons having windows on the desktop works so well.  I might be running at 1024x768 and you might be running at 2560x1440. That difference leads to a very distinct user experiences. But if apps are forced to run full-screen the app designer has the challenge to create something that will work in all these different conditions.  But when you run them in a window these apps can really shine.


Ironically, the Windows 8 store runs as if it were originally designed to run in a window. By being able to run it in a window I can (like I do with my Mac) search for things on the net and then look for them in the Windows store.

Ending the debate

When you combine Start8 with ModernMix, the end result is that Windows 8 becomes an indisputably better than Windows 7. 

The two biggest problems with Windows 8 are solved:

1. Being forced to jump between two environments (the desktop and the Metro experience)

2. Being forced to run the “new” (modern) apps full-screen

With Start8 and ModernMix you can run your entire Windows 8 experience from the desktop and enjoy all the advantages that Windows 8 provides.

To get the beta (and I want to emphasize, this is a BETA) go here:

Animated Wallpapers for Windows 8 with DeskScapes 8

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Animated wallpapers on the Windows desktop made their debut several years ago, with the original version of DeskScapes and Windows Vista Ultimate. Microsoft removed the option with Windows 7, users could continue to use Stardock DeskScapes to bring animated wallpapers (AKA Dreams) to the PC.

With Windows 8’s availability, Stardock has DeskScapes 8 (beta) available to get those animated wallpapers back on your desktop. DeskScapes does much more than that, as you can add over 40 effects to your static or video wallpapers, recolor wallpapers using simple sliders, add animations to static images, and more.


There are thousands of animated wallpapers available to download for free from These range from subtle landscape scenes to custom 3D animations, so there’s something for just about every style you can imagine. DeskScapes 8 can also use WMV files so you can easily use your own videos as an animated background as a screensaver!


DeskScapes can apply animations to your favorite static images too. In the screenshot above, I have a nice looking landscape image and I have used DeskScapes to apply a falling snow effect which adds animated snowflakes on that image. DeskScapes also supports multiple monitors, so you can apply different wallpapers on each screen, or stretch over multiple monitors.

DeskScapes 8 is available as a free beta download now!

The full version is just $9.99 and is also part of the Object Desktop suite of apps which includes other great applications such as Start8, Fences, Decor8, WindowBlinds, and more.

Get more info and the beta here -

Getting a Start Menu for Windows 8

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Whether you upgraded to Windows 8 from a previous version of Windows, or just bought a new PC, you may have noticed that the start menu in Windows 8 is missing. You didn’t do anything wrong, this is just how Windows 8 was designed. For those users who miss it, I want to show you a way to get the start menu for Windows 8 back.

Start8 from Stardock brings the start menu/button back to your Windows 8 desktop.

Along with the start menu/button, Start8 allows for further customization in both appearance and functionality. Pin your desktop and Metro apps to the Start8 start menu, boot directly to the Windows 8 desktop, shut down with one click, and much more.


After the quick/easy install…

Start8 gives you a choice of styles for your start menu. Choose from the Windows 7 style - which most are probably familiar with - and the Windows 8 style, which gives you a start menu in the Modern UI (aka Metro) style. Additional options allow you to tailor the start menu to a size and style that works for you. Start8 also gives you several choices in start buttons to be displayed on the taskbar, you can easily create your own or download buttons created by others and shared on


Customize the start menu…

Users can also configure Start8 to function in the way that best suits them. For example, have the Windows key on your keyboard set to show the Windows 8 start screen, and clicking the start button on the desktop will bring up the start menu. Another option is to have Start8 show the start button on a secondary taskbar, and it can also disable Windows 8 hot corner when at the desktop. Those are just a few examples, but you have the ability to set Start8 as you like.

Start8 is available as a free trial, and just $4.99 for the full version. It is also part of the Object Desktop subscription which includes Fences, and many other desktop enhancement and productivity applications for Windows. Object Desktop subscribers also enjoy the benefit of trying out any new software before our other customers.

More info can be found at Start8’s website.

Start8 -

Object Desktop

Add Windows Media Center to Windows 8 Pro (free offer expires January 31)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 by Island Dog | Discussion: WinCustomize News

If you have already upgraded to Windows 8 Pro, be sure to visit before January 31 to take advantage of the free Windows 8 Media Center Pack offer.

The Media Center pack also includes video codecs for decoding MPEG2 videos (these were previously available in Windows 7, but are limited to the Media Center pack for Windows 8 Pro users).

Even if you have no plans to use Media Center, we encourage you to take advantage of this free upgrade AND use the code before the end of January. The future DeskScapes 8 beta and release will be encouraging the use of AVI/WMV codecs for dreams.


Using Decor8 to Change Your Windows 8 Start Screen

Monday, December 10, 2012 by Island Dog | Discussion: Personal Computing

Windows 8 has the new Start screen (aka Metro) which some users love, and others hate.  After having use it for a while, I have come to like it and use it often especially since there have been some great apps released recently.  One thing about the Start screen though is you really can’t customize it much aside from colors and a few included background images.

That’s where Decor8 comes in and gives you ability to further personalize your Windows 8 experience.  Decor8 allows you to change the Windows 8 Start screen to one of many included images, or use your own images.  You can also create a slideshow of pictures or have background images changed at timed intervals for an even cooler experience.  Decor8 also does much more by letting you choose and create your own color themes, along with apply effects to your images and even control how many rows of tiles to show on your start screen.

You can get Decor8 here -

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Using Decor8 is pretty simple.  In the Backgrounds setting is where you can choose and set your start screen background image.  As I mentioned before, there’s many included but you can certainly use any image on your PC.  You can load an individual image file, or select image folders that Decor8 can display.  All you have to do is select the image you want and you can click through to the start screen to see if you want to keep it or choose another.  You can also choose several (or all) images and set them to change at timed intervals.

Decor8 also gives you the ability to apply effects to your background images.  You can and adjust the fade on your images, add some blur, or adjust the color and contrast.  This allows you to really personalize the start screen experience!

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In the Colors settings, you can either choose to use a standard color theme, or get really creative and choose your own custom color scheme.  Here you can change the colors of various areas including the background color, accent color, standard tile color, and the text color.

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Additional features of Decor8 allow you to define the default row count for Tiles, and the ability to change your Lock screen images also.  If you are tired of the default personalization options in Windows 8, then come give Decor8 a try and make your Windows 8 start screen your very own.

Decor8 is available as a free 30-day trial and can be purchased for only $4.99.

Get it now:

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