If you have been following McAkins Online, you know that we are dedicated to bringing to you the latest from the Windows Store and are here to feature some great Metro Style (aka Windows Store) apps for you to check out. But the question remains is why should you care about Metro Style apps, especially if you are using traditional, non-touch, desktop or laptop? I want to take a quick break from featuring apps to talk about why you might sometimes want to use Metro Style apps instead of classic Windows Desktop apps even on traditional hardware. We believe that if you understand the advantages of using Metro Style apps over desktop apps for some occasions, the content of this site will be of even more value to you.
I want to discuss some of the advantages of using Metro Style apps over desktop versions of similar apps by covering some key areas. But before I get to that, I will quickly brush through the most controversial topics in regards to Metro Style apps. There is ongoing debate about Metro Style apps being fullscreen and optimized for touch make them unusable on desktops and laptops without touch and a productivity killer. This is a heated topic and one that needs more than a paragraph for discussing. I will hold of discussing this topic in depth for another time. All I will say is that some apps work great on the desktop, with mouse and keyboard, and others work better in Metro, like Netflix, games, and painting apps. Again, I will be talking more about this topic alone in the future. For now, putting the fullscreen issue aside, let’s talk about how Metro Style apps offer advantages in other areas that might make some more compelling than their desktop counterparts.
No System Degrading Over Time
One problem that has plagued Windows since beginning of time is that the system degrades over time. While the problem has gotten significantly better since Windows 9x, it still exists. Today, the biggest cause of the system degrading is the installing and/or uninstalling of many software over time. This happens because as you install desktop apps, these apps can make changes to the registry, add files to various places in the system, and add services (sometimes unnecessary ones) that take up system memory. Some apps have hidden startup files that slow down boot files. And we are only talking about the good apps. Because desktop apps are not curated, you might install a malicious app pretending to be good but one that significantly damages the system after being run. This problem still exists for desktop apps in Windows 8. Installing too many desktop apps can cause system performance to be reduced, performance that might not be regained even if you uninstall all of your desktop apps.
Metro Style apps do not suffer from this issue—at least not in a significant way, if at all. When you install a Metro Style app from the Windows Store, they are curated by Microsoft. Thus, you won’t likely be installing malware. Secondly, Metro Style apps won’t change the system registry, add startup files, change system files, or anything else that might damage the system. All this is because Metro Style apps acquired form the Windows Store don’t have the right to mess with system files. You can install as many Metro Style apps as you want without slowing down your PC.
Clean Uninstall (No Leftovers)
When you uninstall a desktop app, chances are that it is not completely wiped from the PC. Some files associated with your app still might remain on your drive. Registry items created by the app when installed and run don’t always get removed when uninstalled. Some desktop apps install additional apps and services that might continue to run in the background even if you uninstall the app. For example, if you install iTunes, you can opt in to install QuickTime player with it. However, if you uninstall iTunes, QuickTime remains installed. You have to manually go and run the QuickTime installer.
Metro Style apps uninstall cleanly. No traces are left when you uninstall these new apps. They won’t leave hidden files lurking in the system nor install additional apps or services. So, you can install and uninstall lots of Metro Style apps as many times as you like without degrading your system’s performance.
Security and Sandboxing
Windows desktop apps in Windows 8, like those in previous versions of Windows, are not Sandboxed. This means, desktop apps have access to other apps and system files. Though this is less of an issue with modern security measures in place in Windows, it’s still not as effective as true sandboxing.
Metro Style apps are sandboxed from one another. They can’t directly touch the system or other apps. They communicate with the system and other apps mainly through the Windows 8 contracts. If one app is misbehaving, it can be more easily contained if it is a Metro Style app. Also, I will say it again because it is so important: Metro Style apps are curated by Microsoft, so you will likely not get a malware on your PC if you download them.
The Windows desktop apps are Win32 apps that have been conceived in the early 90’s. They are dated, and it shows. There have been layers upon layers added to Win32 apps to make it play along with modern time. One such “layer” is terrible update mechanisms. Back in the 90’s, software updates through the internet wasn’t common; thus, Windows didn’t have a built-in mechanism to automatically update all Win32 apps from the internet. As we entered in to the modern era, each developer built its own updating system on top of their Win32 app. This meant that updating each app was a different experience and a cumbersome process. The Windows OS still doesn’t provide an integrated way to updated most modern Win32 apps.
Metro Style apps, on the other hand, was created for today’s era and with software updates in mind. The Windows OS handles updates for all Metro Style apps. They are seamless and painless. They don’t require downloading EXE files or running an app updater with admin privileges. The Windows Store makes the process easy and automatic.
Conclusion: Metro Style Apps Provide a Better User Experience
We looked at the many ways in which Metro Style apps are much better for you and your system in terms of performance, security, and seamless updating. The big point that should be taken from this is that you don’t have to be afraid to try lots and lots of Metro Style apps. Go ahead and give all of our featured apps in this site a try because your system won’t degrade in performance. If you don’t like an app, you can uninstall it easily. The same cannot be said for desktop apps. We don’t want to install and uninstall too many desktop apps for performance and security concerns.
The one tip I would give when deciding whether to get a Metro Style or a desktop app is to ask yourself if you really need this app for regularly. If so, you will likely be keeping this app and you trust the app. So install the desktop version if you like. Good examples of this are Office, Photoshop, Adobe Reader, Visual Studio, After Effects, etc. However, if you would like to try an app or want to use an app less often, you will likely want to use a Metro Style app. Examples of these types of apps can include bandwidth measuring apps, format converters, web video downloaders, etc. Installing too many desktop apps that you won’t use regularly is not worth the performance downgrade. Also, if you are likely to uninstall an app or are concerned about malware, definitely download a Metro Style app from the Windows Store.
Well, I hope this can give you some insight on how some apps and utilities might be better suitable for you as a Metro Style app than a desktop app. With that, I conclude this article. We have some more great Windows Store apps we would like to show you; so stay tuned on McAkins online for updates. Some apps that are not blogged about on this site immediately are mentioned on the McAkins Online twitter account. So be sure to follow @McAkins. You can also follow me on twitter @NazmusLabs.
Have a great day and keep surfing!