If you have been following Windows news, you will know that the next version of Windows – Windows 8 – is going to have a radical change of user interface. Instead of sticking with the same old desktop concept, it is integrating the Windows Phone 7’s Metro UI into Windows 8. The beauty of the Metro UI is that you can pin your favorites website, contacts, applications or even widgets as a tile to the main screen. If you are crazy about the Metro UI and wish to test it out in your computer, here are a few themes and applications to transform your Windows 7 to Windows 8 lookalike.
1. Zetro UI Theme
Zetro UI is a clean and minimal Metro UI theme for Windows 7.
The installation requires a few steps:
1. Download the patch file here
2. Extract the zipped file. Open the folder and navigate to the “Extra -> Uxtheme Patch” folder within. Right click the file “UniversalThemePatcher-x86.exe” (or UniversalThemePatcher-x64.exe if you are using a 64-bit machine) and select “Run As Administrator”.
3. It will then prompt you to patch 3 files. Click the “Patch” buttons beside the 3 files. Restart the computer.
4. Copy the Zetro folder and zetro.theme to “C:/Windows/Resources/Theme“. You can now change the theme in your Control Panel.
5. Optionally, you can also change the system file. Just follow the instruction in the README.txt inside the folder. Note that the system files are not supported in Windows 7 SP1.
2. Windows Metro IM
Windows Metro IM is also another Windows 8 Metro UI theme, but is radically different from Zetro UI. While Zetro UI is primarily white, clean and minimal, Metro IM uses dark color as its primary color. Overall, the Windows Metro UI theme is more polished than Zetro UI.
The installation for Windows Metro IM is similar to the Zetro UI. Just follow the instruction in the Readme.txt file.
Mosaic is an application that bring usable Metro UI interface to your Windows 7 desktop. While it is still in alpha stage, I have no problem getting it to run in my computer.
To use it, first download the compressed file and extract it (the file is compressed with 7-zip. You need to install 7-zip to extract it). There is no installation required. You just have to run the Mosaic.exe file in the extracted Mosaic folder.
When it runs, there is nothing on the desktop to indicate that it is running. You have to move your cursor to the right border of the desktop and click on it, then you can see the configuration strip.
To get the most out of Mosaic, you need to run it in full-screen mode. Click the “Options” button in the configuration strip and select “Enable fullscreen mode“.
Once in the full screen mode, you can start to see the widget animation. Mosaic comes with several widgets that you can use like Gmail and Twitter. You can also pin websites, applications or even your contacts to the screen.
Once the tiles are pinned on the screen, you can drag to reorder them. There is no option to resize the widget though. Here’s a video that I have recorded showing the working of Mosaic.
Win8Menu is more of a concept application rather than a fully functional app. Same as Mosiac, it is still in alpha stage and plenty of things are not implemented yet. The UI is nice though and most of the things that it implemented just work.
Download Win8Menu from DeviantArt
Extract the zipped file and run Win8Menu.exe. Immediately you will see the main screen of the Metro UI. Click and drag your cursor upward and it will bring you to the Start screen.
There are no configuration option in the Start screen. What you see is what you get. You can’t arrange the tiles, pin your favorite sites, or even applications.
To get out of the interface, you have to press “Alt + F4”. To get back to the Metro Start screen, move your cursor to the right corner of the screen and click the “Start” icon.
To exit, right click on the strip and select “Exit”. The “Share”, “Connect” and “Settings” buttons are not working yet, but clicking the “Search ” button brings you to a beautiful search page.
Let us know which one you use and prefer.