One of the cornerstones of Microsoft's revamp of the Windows operating system was building app support into the Windows 8's 'Modern' user interface (previously called 'Metro'). Microsoft believed that these apps, along with the app store, would offer users new and novel ways to interact with their PC, and put the operating system on an equal footing with OS X, Android, and iOS, which also have dedicated app stores. But a report by PC management service provider Soluto suggests that Windows 8 users are shunning these apps.
The report, which is based on data collected from 10,848 Windows 8 machines and 313,142 Modern app launches across 9,634 unique apps, suggests that Windows 8 users are turning to apps, on average, 1.52 times a day. Breaking this down by type indicates that tablet users are the heaviest app users, launching them 2.71 times per day, while touch-screen notebook users launch 47 percent more apps than those on a standard notebook.
Desktop users make the least use of Modern apps.
Soluto crunched the data further, and took a closer look at those who launch fewer than one Modern app a day. Here, the company noticed that a staggering 60 percent of users launch an app less than once a day. Even when it comes to tablet users, the heaviest users of Windows 8 apps according to Soluto, 44 percent of those sometimes go a day without launching an app.
So, it seems that despite being thrown into the Start Screen, Windows 8 users are, on the whole, turning their backs on Modern apps and instead using traditional applications.
Of the apps that users run the most, nine out of 10 of them are made by Microsoft, the only exception being the Netflix app, which takes the #8 spot. This will come as worrying news to third party app developers who were hoping that Microsoft's app store will help them rake in cash.
Things are a little better when it comes to the most engaging apps. While the list continues to be dominated by Microsoft apps, we also see apps from Yahoo! and a number of game developers. At the top of the list is the Yahoo! Mail app, and in the #2 and #3 spots are two social networking apps made by Asus.
As someone who has been using Windows 8 for a long time (going back to when early builds were being leaked onto the web), I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about Modern apps. While the idea is sound, and they make sense on Windows RT tablets which can't run standard x86 apps, on desktop and notebook systems they feel very limited in what they can do. Primarily this comes down to the fact that Modern apps are forced to run in full-screen mode, which limits their use. Another problem I find is that Modern apps put style over function, and the density of the data being display on-screen is low.
Even in a content consumption scenario, you have to devote your entire system to one app, rather than being able to tile applications and multitask. Even simple tasks such as copying and pasting data — such as a password — from one app to another is extremely tedious.
Why bother running a Windows machine if I'm limited to one app like I am on an iPad? The biggest advantage of Windows over iOS is that it offers a powerful, functionality-rich platform. Modern apps hobble Windows, and essentially make it pointless to run Windows in the first place.