The Windows interface formerly known as Metro has divided people’s opinions and some like it, but others don’t. Microsoft is back pedalling fast and Windows 8.1 puts the desktop back where it belongs, with the Start screen being hidden most of the time - you can boot straight to the desktop. The Start screen and apps will be even less prominent in Windows 9 as the tiled interface withers and perhaps one day, may die. With all this apathy, to put it mildly, about the Windows 8 interface, why would IObit make a utility that adds the Metro interface to Windows 7?
Actually, it isn’t called Metro any longer because someone else snagged that name before Microsoft started using it, but it will always be known as Metro to many people.
If you are running Windows XP, Vista or 7 and want to know what all the fuss is about concerning the Windows 8 tiled Start screen, IObit WinMetro will let you run it without having to upgrade.
It is a new interface that runs on top of your existing windows. It is just a program and like any other program, you don’t have to use it and it can be uninstalled if you don’t like it. When it isn’t running or when it is uninstalled, Windows goes back to the way it was before, so it is safe to try.
This free software is really quite clever and it actually does make older versions of Windows look and feel like Windows 8. If you want to give your old PC a makeover, WinMetro will make it look like new.
When it is running, it displays a Start screen instead of the Windows desktop and there are tiles, just as with Windows 8. Surprisingly, the tiles are live and the news and sport tiles show the latest headlines, updating every few seconds.
The collection of tiles are similar to those bundled with Windows 8, but they aren’t identical. There is a calendar, stocks and shares, weather, photos, Internet Explorer, Maps, Facebook, Twitter and so on. There are also some extra tiles for common tools that are normally on the All Programs, Accessories menu.
The tiles actually work, so clicking Maps shows a map and it is centred on your location. It is powered by Google Maps. The Calendar displays all 12 months and is useful for looking up dates. It isn’t as functional as Windows 8 calendar though.
The news app displays tiles containing the latest news stories and it automatically updates. Clicking a news tile displays the story. The Sport app does the same thing, but shows sports headlines. The weather app didn’t work for me, which is odd.
Clicking the All Programs tile switches to another screen that lists all the applications alphabetically, just as Windows 8 does.
Not only is the Start screen added to older versions of Windows, the Charms bar is on the right too. Just push the mouse over to the right hand side of the screen and the Charms bar appears, just as in Windows 8. There are Search Start and Settings icons.
If you are bored with your current version of Windows, this could make it more interesting and really, it is just a bit of fun. It works well and it does a good job of faking Windows 8. It isn’t perfect, but don’t forget that this is a free program, so it’s not fair to criticise it too harshly.