Windows 8-based RetroUI gets update to RetroUI Pro

In September, well before the official launch of Windows 8, Thinix released RetroUI, which allowed users of Microsoft's new OS to boot directly to the desktop screen and bypass the "Modern" Start screen. This week, the company released a major update to RetroUI that not only adds a number of new features but also changes its name to RetroUI Pro.

The new features include adding Thinix's version of a Start menu to the Windows 8 desktop. Among other things, the Start menu allows users to pin Start screen apps to allow them to be accessed via the desktop mode of Windows 8.

RetroUI Pro also adds what Thinix calls Enforce, which adds a taskbar and Start menu button to the Windows 8 Start screen. Enforce also allows "Modern" Windows 8 apps to be resized. Those apps can even be made to run while viewing Windows 8 in desktop mode.

The program also has a feature called TabletView which lets its users arrange shortcuts for both "Modern" and desktop apps in Windows 8 in one grid-like pattern for easy launching via touch or mouse cursor.

As with RetroUI, the new RetroUI Pro costs $4.95, or $9.95 for a license to use it on up to three PCs. There's also a seven-day free trial available.

Source: RetroUI website | Images via Thinix

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Well! I am a great fan of Neowin and do read articles each day. But sadly, after reading this article I bought RetroUI Pro and dis-pointed with the performance and bad design of this software.

Simply, in my opinion money waste. I do not recommend it to anyone.

Neowin must try itself, do benchmarks, reliablty then the product should be reviewed/displayed on this website as users like me take Neowin as a standard.

It looks nasty and is totally not needed at all Windows 8 is perfect the way it is just leave it alone. Microsoft really needs to find a way to completely block all of these "Start Menu addons" for good.

bryonhowley said,
Microsoft really needs to find a way to completely block all of these "Start Menu addons" for good.

The Win8 taliban again, denying choice for the sake of Metro fundamentalism.

My Windows 8 desktop goes to sleep, when I wake it up, it's back on the desktop.

I don't see how one simple click is worse than all of these add on crap looking start menus.

In complaining about the new UI in Windows 8, people are out promoting and creating software that is far more complicated and confusing, and think they are helping users.

Microsoft's millions on UI and end user research compared to what a couple of people in their free time does not equate to similar levels of understanding.

Even Start 8 is misguided, as it is just a 'mask' to give people the illusion of what they had with Windows 7, when the reality is that Windows 8 ALSO offers all the same features and functionality. The difference again is users are too stubborn to look at the new start screen as a direct replacement for the start menu; which is insane as the Windows 8 start screen has all the Windows 7 Start Menu functionality Plus all the Windows 8 functionality.

The problem is that people don't try the Win 7 conventions and see if they work, or they never learned the Windows 7 conventions and what they really want is the classic start menu of cascading menus of crap that is 20 years old.

All the Win7 features are there, it is just the programs folders grouped into tile groups, and all the same search features (and more) are still there.

If people keep wasting their time with crap replacements instead of spending the time to learn Windows 8, they are cheating themselves, and when they use someone else's computer, they are going to seem illiterate, which will be quite uncomfortable when they are an IT professional fixing a computer or giving assistance. (Maybe they will do like IT/Techs of the past and dismantle the OS and tell the users their way is better and install this crap to screw over the users.)

thenetavenger said,

Microsoft's millions on UI and end user research compared

If they wanted they'd even have a study on how the commandline is the interface of the future...

thenetavenger said,

which is insane as the Windows 8 start screen has all the Windows 7 Start Menu functionality

It doesn't! It can't even display logical hierarchies!

MFH said,

If they wanted they'd even have a study on how the commandline is the interface of the future...

They have. That's why powershell v3 is installed by default in Windows 8!
Love it. I've automated all of my admin tasks on my win8 desktop.

deadonthefloor said,

They have. That's why powershell v3 is installed by default in Windows 8!
Love it. I've automated all of my admin tasks on my win8 desktop.

For system administrators obviously - it's not like they didn't admit that CLI is faster for those types of tasks with the release of the first version of PowerShelll...

But I meant on a greater scale. You know, currently the Microsoft-Hype-Team is focusing so much on touch it's not even funny. Promoting it as the best thing since sliced bread... (which was invented last winter © Abraham Simpson)

thenetavenger said,

Even Start 8 is misguided, as it is just a 'mask' to give people the illusion of what they had with Windows 7, when the reality is that Windows 8 ALSO offers all the same features and functionality. The difference again is users are too stubborn to look at the new start screen as a direct replacement for the start menu; which is insane as the Windows 8 start screen has all the Windows 7 Start Menu functionality Plus all the Windows 8 functionality.

.......

All the Win7 features are there, it is just the programs folders grouped into tile groups, and all the same search features (and more) are still there.

Awesome, finally someone has figured out how to bring back the Win 7 features I loved in the new start screen. Seeing as how you've unlocked all the functionality could you help me out with the biggest features that have been missing for me.

- Jumplists. I loved having pinned apps with jumplists (ie. hover over steam; get list to directly launch games). I have been too stubborn to find this functionality in the new start screen. Can you show me where it is?

- Universal search, this is apparently a really desirable feature. Phone makers are going to great lengths to add this to their devices while circumventing patents (because they feel it's so useful). In my stuborness, I have only discovered the Win 8 'feature' that replaces universal search with a inferior search that forces me to know what I'm looking for before searching ("was my keyboard settings app an actual application or a control panel applet? I guess I should google it so I know which to search type to use on Win 8"). Can you direct me toward the awesome universal search you were talking about?

I am cool with the new Start menu from Microsoft but instead of just bringing back old stuff like Start8 these guys really thought of a start menu with touch based input in mind. The video on their webpage doesn't really help if people really want the old start menu back because their version it is too different also so people would be better off with Start8 which is the same price.

Are these guys a sponsor or something? Not sure why we are promoting this specific start menu replacement over any of the others when there are a bunch of other options.

xendrome said,
Are these guys a sponsor or something? Not sure why we are promoting this specific start menu replacement over any of the others when there are a bunch of other options.

Which one of them allows you to run metro apps on the desktop? As someone who doesn't really like the fulllscreen window thing but will also be forced to use the metro music app when I pick up a WP8 device, I find that functionality useful and as far as I know it's completely novel.

Gary7 said,
There is no app that will make Windows 8 look decent. The OS is just plain fugly.

Could it be that you have a very glossy screen?

That is very ugly. If you are not willing to change to the Metro style Windows, stick with Windows 7. What is the point of using 8 and modifying it?

ccoltmanm said,
That is very ugly. If you are not willing to change to the Metro style Windows, stick with Windows 7. What is the point of using 8 and modifying it?

Better security right out the box plus IE 10 and direct x 11.1.

ccoltmanm said,
That is very ugly. If you are not willing to change to the Metro style Windows, stick with Windows 7. What is the point of using 8 and modifying it?

I can imagine there are many who have no interest in using metro at all (even if it does in fact work great as the start menu) but still want to have all the improvements that has been done to the "desktop" part of Windows which is quite a lot.

ccoltmanm said,
That is very ugly. If you are not willing to change to the Metro style Windows, stick with Windows 7. What is the point of using 8 and modifying it?

Agreed, that's why my desktop is staying on Windows 7 because I feel that the Modern UI is better for touchscreens. Oh and n_K, IE10 is coming to Windows 7 and DX 11.1 doesn't make a difference to me as I don't have a DX 11.1 graphics card.

I mean....I understand why Microsoft made the Metro UI. They believe and there is hard evidence to back it up..that with smart phones and tablets taking off like a rocket...the desktop as we know it is no longer for the average individual consumer.

I honestly like the Metro UI with my tablet. Once you boot up...everything updates with news and weather and stock quotes.

But if you are still one of those users that still have a tower PC...then I can see why you wouldn't like the Metro setup.

texasghost said,
I mean....I understand why Microsoft made the Metro UI. They believe and there is hard evidence to back it up..that with smart phones and tablets taking off like a rocket...the desktop as we know it is no longer for the average individual consumer.

I honestly like the Metro UI with my tablet. Once you boot up...everything updates with news and weather and stock quotes.

But if you are still one of those users that still have a tower PC...then I can see why you wouldn't like the Metro setup.

Only desktop users that don't give it a chance. Even just the information aspect is a vast difference.

A static screen of icons or limited gadgets and having to open several web pages and Apps just to see the basic information that is important to them.

In contrast with Windows 8, they can literally just walk by the screen, see any appointments, traffic, the weather, important email, messages, etc... The live information aspect should be a strong enough pull for anyone that has a life would find a lot of benefit in seeing their email and headlines and stuff that is important to them, as opposed to having to pop open several web pages and sift through a lot of crap to get the same info you can get in a glance on Win8.

Stubborn, and purposeful ignorance. It also assaults people's egos because they don't instantly get it, and they are supposed to be the power users/self proclaimed experts.

I don't need a dedicated screen to have live information, it's not like until now we didn't have tools that showed us all current appointments or new emails... That's just a lame excuse of Metro defenders...

thenetavenger said,

Only desktop users that don't give it a chance. Even just the information aspect is a vast difference.

A static screen of icons or limited gadgets and having to open several web pages and Apps just to see the basic information that is important to them.

In contrast with Windows 8, they can literally just walk by the screen, see any appointments, traffic, the weather, important email, messages, etc... The live information aspect should be a strong enough pull for anyone that has a life would find a lot of benefit in seeing their email and headlines and stuff that is important to them, as opposed to having to pop open several web pages and sift through a lot of crap to get the same info you can get in a glance on Win8.

Stubborn, and purposeful ignorance. It also assaults people's egos because they don't instantly get it, and they are supposed to be the power users/self proclaimed experts.

By several websites I'm assuming you mean a single website (iGoogle et al). Anyone who cared to see all that on their dekstop was already running widgets. Most people didn't use widgets because they didn't really care about being able to see that stuff. None of the functionality you describe is remotely novel. Have you ever heard of rainmeter?

People don't like Win 8 because on a 27 inch monitor, moving your mouse around the vast expanses of a Metro app's whitespace is inefficient. It's a pretty clear argument. Resorting to the tired 'people are afraid of change bs' just shows your clear inability to address that argument.

This looks horrible and confusing to me. I personally like Start8 - works much like the traditional start menu while its consistent with the rest of the OS. This looks completely out of place on Windows 8...

Obry said,
This looks horrible and confusing to me. I personally like Start8 - works much like the traditional start menu while its consistent with the rest of the OS. This looks completely out of place on Windows 8...

I agree, that looks kind of terrible. People who want the Start Menu back are going to want it to look like the traditional start menu, which Start8 and Classic Shell both seem to do very well.

Skyfrog said,

I agree, that looks kind of terrible. People who want the Start Menu back are going to want it to look like the traditional start menu, which Start8 and Classic Shell both seem to do very well.


I don't know. It's an interesting concept and I think there is nothing wrong with the layout per se but the design, the skin if you will, is obviously quite horrendous.

Not too crazy about that start menu, but honestly the biggest problem that I have with Windows 8 is that there's no unified task bar. Metro apps exist in the Metro switcher, and Desktop apps exist in the Taskbar. They do all exist together in alt-tab, but not in either of the main task switchers.

I think that's the main reason why I find multitasking between Metro apps and Desktop apps so frustrating. It's like it's intentionally built to feel disconnected rather than two parts working together.

Stetson said,
Not too crazy about that start menu, but honestly the biggest problem that I have with Windows 8 is that there's no unified task bar. Metro apps exist in the Metro switcher, and Desktop apps exist in the Taskbar. They do all exist together in alt-tab, but not in either of the main task switchers. .

I think it WAS intentionally build to feel disconnected. The desktop is there to allow peopel to access old applications but in the long run Microsoft wants to switch to the new modern UI and modern apps, that also run on ARM. Microsoft wants to do away with both old technology and the old interface that are keeping Windows from being competitive with modern OS'.

The way I view it is that the desktop app is to Windows 8 what DOS-mode was to Windows 98. A disconnected part of the operating system that will be phased out in time but until people have found new applications to replace the old it has to be there.

I think this was a smart move on Microsoft's part. Of course they could have made it feel more connected but there might have been limitations to the new UI if the old had to be fully integrated. Better to keep them seperated so the new can be all it can be.

I think that's the main reason why I find multitasking between Metro apps and Desktop apps so frustrating. It's like it's intentionally built to feel disconnected rather than two parts working together

Stetson said,
Not too crazy about that start menu, but honestly the biggest problem that I have with Windows 8 is that there's no unified task bar. Metro apps exist in the Metro switcher, and Desktop apps exist in the Taskbar. They do all exist together in alt-tab, but not in either of the main task switchers.

I think that's the main reason why I find multitasking between Metro apps and Desktop apps so frustrating. It's like it's intentionally built to feel disconnected rather than two parts working together.

Metro apps are not productivity apps. If you wan't maximum productivity use desktop apps exclusively...its not that hard to figure out. Its just like using Windows 7 at that point, with all the benefits of Windows 8.

Ronnet said,

in the long run Microsoft wants to switch to the new modern UI and modern apps,

WinRT is so limited compared to anything else Microsoft ever released in the last 20 years that it's not even a replacement for Win16...

notchinese said,

Metro apps are not productivity apps. If you wan't maximum productivity use desktop apps exclusively...its not that hard to figure out. Its just like using Windows 7 at that point, with all the benefits of Windows 8.

That is your outlook, one I do not share. Of course there is no denying that most apps aren't build for productivity. Even the name app indicates that they're just small applications.

However I dont see why apps can't be for max productivity. It compleetly depends on what the developer is aiming for. Since this is Windows I think there is a big chance that there will be high productivity modern apps. It will take time of course.

For example it might start out with some QB management-dashboard app by Intuit that allows small businessowners to quickly access reports and live MI. Since the modern UI is such an easy place to navigate, consumers might desire more functionality in this environment. So more and more features of QuickBooks get added to the modern app. Eventually ful QuickBook as an modern app might show up in the Windows Store.

MFH said,

WinRT is so limited compared to anything else Microsoft ever released in the last 20 years that it's not even a replacement for Win16...

1) WinRT is only ONE framework of the new UI. People get this confused, and it shows that they have not worked with the development of Modern UI Apps.

2) The Modern/Windows 8 frameworks are far more capable than Win16. They however do limit the ability to write crap software that can compromise security or system stability, which seems to be where most developers like to complain, just as they did on WP7. "These idiots seem to think it is a bad thing that they can't write an App that randomly accesses all the users data and dials 1000 phone numbers without the user knowing."

MFH said,

WinRT is so limited compared to anything else Microsoft ever released in the last 20 years that it's not even a replacement for Win16...

I agree that they removed too many settings. However I do like how they're rebooted with a minimalistic approach. Windows had become too complex for the average user. Each version added a new way to navigate the device. For exampple in Windows 7 you could launch apps via the explorer window, startmenu icons, search results, taskbar pins, desktop shortcuts, etc. Luckily the world population grew up with Windows, otherwise it would have appeared as a mess.

Most consumers only use the basic features of their PC, Windows 8 does these a lot better then any of its predecessors. Via the search, share and setting charms the most basic functions of a PC have become really easy. Even advanced users can appreciate that these basic things are now done faster, simpler and standardized across all applications.

As I said, I agree that too many features are only accessible via the desktop. But I expect Microsoft to incorporate the most important features into the modern UI. Albeit more hidden so regular users dont have to worry about it. Perhaps they'll bring over the control panel to the modern UI via a new control panel app.

WinRT has access to all of the modern UI. It even has access to a desktop so while you cant run old applications you can access the more advanced options. You have Window's advanced networking capabilities as well as hardware compatibility at your fingertips. Once more apps are out, WinRT is a vallid replacement for Windows 8. On top of that its also less of a battery drain and produces less heat. In time I can see WinRT replace regular Windows. But first Microsoft will focus on easing the transition by focusing on Windows 8 which is the bridge between old and new technology.

thenetavenger said,

1) WinRT is only ONE framework of the new UI.

Nope, WinRT the COM-based Framework to develop applications that use "Modern UI". It's the only Framework that's available if you wan to develop for "Modern UI" and it IS SEVERLY LIMITED!

thenetavenger said,

They however do limit the ability to write crap software

So you consider local databases to be crap too.... (WinRT has no support for ADO.net, nor has it a replacement...) That's just one example of how limited this "modern" system really is

Ronnet said,

I think it WAS intentionally build to feel disconnected.

Well, I'm not sure about that, but I am convinced that Windows 8 had two separate teams working on it, one for Desktop and one for "Metro". Why do I think that? Well, for example, everything in the desktop got enhanced to work a lot better with multiple monitors, meanwhile you're only allowed to have metro apps on one screen at a time and you can not have the start screen (with its "at a glance" information) on one screen while using the desktop on the other.

This stuff should have been in Windows 8 from the start if you ask me. Give people the option to go back to a persistent taskbar and make Metro apps able to run windowed if you'd want to and everyone would be happy.

It's a shame this particular thing seems to work alright but looks horrible.

Ambroos said,
This stuff should have been in Windows 8 from the start if you ask me. Give people the option to go back to a persistent taskbar and make Metro apps able to run windowed if you'd want to and everyone would be happy.

It's a shame this particular thing seems to work alright but looks horrible.

If you give people the option to go back, they will never switch. See the classic start menu that survived all the way until Windows 7.

Ambroos said,
This stuff should have been in Windows 8 from the start if you ask me. Give people the option to go back to a persistent taskbar and make Metro apps able to run windowed if you'd want to and everyone would be happy.

Metro Apps are more meant for a touch screen/mobile device and are designed to run full screen or docked, so that would defeat the purpose. Microsoft wants to introduce and push people into the Modern UI to try and unify their devices PC/Mobile/Tablet. It works fine, even on standard PC's. I myself never see the start screen unless I choose to. I really don't see any problems with Windows 8 it works great on all of my devices across all platforms, and things sync.

Ambroos said,
This stuff should have been in Windows 8 from the start if you ask me. Give people the option to go back to a persistent taskbar and make Metro apps able to run windowed if you'd want to and everyone would be happy.

It's a shame this particular thing seems to work alright but looks horrible.


That isn't true. I wouldn't be happy if Windows 8 was like that, and I reckon that some other people wouldn't be, too. Microsoft have displeased you and others by doing what they've done, but they would displease me and probably others by implementing it this way. I'm not sure of any way they could have implemented it to make everyone happy.

If Windows was still like Windows 7 (i.e. allowing windows to overlap and being able to have many windows on screen at once, I probably wouldn't still be using Windows. I was ready to switch to a Mac, until I heard about the new Windows 8 experience.

Calum said,

If Windows was still like Windows 7 (i.e. allowing windows to overlap and being able to have many windows on screen at once, I probably wouldn't still be using Windows. I was ready to switch to a Mac, until I heard about the new Windows 8 experience.

Ehm. I'm confused. Windows 8 still let's windows overlap when you're on the desktop and so does Mac OS X for that sake...

dagamer34 said,

If you give people the option to go back, they will never switch.

Correct. And the conclusion from that observation? - the old way was better for a lot of people. Why try to force everybody to switch? Start screen wastes space on large monitors, has no folders in which to group/tidy up apps, Win8 has no aero, metro apps can't be resized, the "non-metro" apps which will still be in use for many years are treated like second-class software.
Win8 has much to like in other respects, but being needlessly forced to switch merely for the sake of change is a very poor design choice and a kick in the teeth for many customers.

Leonick said,

Ehm. I'm confused. Windows 8 still let's windows overlap when you're on the desktop and so does Mac OS X for that sake...

I'm talking specifically about the new experience, which I hope will one day be the only Windows experience. I'd like the Desktop to disappear, even though I realise that probably isn't possible (and it might not be possible for years or decades to come).

Calum said,

I'm talking specifically about the new experience, which I hope will one day be the only Windows experience. I'd like the Desktop to disappear ....

The Win8 taliban strikes again, denying choice in the interest of Metro fundamentalism.
If the desktop experience disappears, I won't be using Windows any more.
In fact it won't even HAVE any windows and the very name will be misleading.

gb8080 said,

The Win8 taliban strikes again, denying choice in the interest of Metro fundamentalism.
If the desktop experience disappears, I won't be using Windows any more.
In fact it won't even HAVE any windows and the very name will be misleading.


It's not our fault that our desires of how we'd like Windows to be aren't the same as yours. It's not about denying choice; it's about wanting Windows to provide us all with the best experience possible.

That's the nature of software: It often can't be built or designed in a way that pleases everyone.

Calum said,

It's not our fault that our desires of how we'd like Windows to be aren't the same as yours. It's not about denying choice; it's about wanting Windows to provide us all with the best experience possible.

That's the nature of software: It often can't be built or designed in a way that pleases everyone.


But it should be built in a way that pleases most people.

All full-screen apps with extremely limited multitasking is extremely unproductive, I hope you realize that. It's fine for media consumption devices like tablets, but if you want to get any sort of work done you simply need a windowed system or at least good and clear multitasking. The Metro experience lacks both.

gb8080 said,

The Win8 taliban strikes again, denying choice in the interest of Metro fundamentalism.
If the desktop experience disappears, I won't be using Windows any more.
In fact it won't even HAVE any windows and the very name will be misleading.


Metro fundamentalism _O- seriously man
I actually came quite fond of talking to someone on the build in messaging app docked to the side and then check a website they linked quickly in ModernIE10. Or just browse the web in general while chatting I find allot more distracting in Modern/Metro then on the desktop. But it kinda depends on my mood, I like that there are 'options', as you could use the desktop almost like Win7 without any 3rd party help.

dagamer34 said,

If you give people the option to go back, they will never switch.

Microsoft will be the big losers due to this "take it or leave it" attitude. The masses will not even look at Win 8.

dvb2000 said,

Microsoft will be the big losers due to this "take it or leave it" attitude. The masses will not even look at Win 8.

Sorry, what? How is Windows 7 not a "take it or leave it" approach already? Last I checked, I can't use Windows using customized shells. Windows 8 is no different.

dagamer34 said,

If you give people the option to go back, they will never switch. See the classic start menu that survived all the way until Windows 7.

Complete rubbish, I never turned the classic start menu on since Microsoft's dual panel approach made it's debut with XP.

Calum said,

It's not our fault that our desires of how we'd like Windows to be aren't the same as yours. It's not about denying choice; it's about wanting Windows to provide us all with the best experience possible.

That's the nature of software: It often can't be built or designed in a way that pleases everyone.

And if Microsoft followed your desire to rid Windows of the desktop completely it wouldn't give everyone the "best experience possible" in fact it would make things for people that rely on their ability to multi task multitudes worse.

Calum said,

It's not our fault that our desires of how we'd like Windows to be aren't the same as yours. It's not about denying choice; it's about wanting Windows to provide us all with the best experience possible.

That's the nature of software: It often can't be built or designed in a way that pleases everyone.

Except in this case it can easily be designed in a way that pleases both sides. Give users the "RT" switch. If they flip it, the desktop will be disabled and will only be used when absolutely necessary (the way it's used in WinRT). If they choose the desktop option, give them freedom with where how they run metro apps and allow all running apps to fully integrate into whichever task switcher they choose; currently Metro apps don't show up on the taskbar and desktop app don't show up individually on the Metro task switcher.

geoken said,

Except in this case it can easily be designed in a way that pleases both sides. Give users the "RT" switch. If they flip it, the desktop will be disabled and will only be used when absolutely necessary (the way it's used in WinRT). If they choose the desktop option, give them freedom with where how they run metro apps and allow all running apps to fully integrate into whichever task switcher they choose; currently Metro apps don't show up on the taskbar and desktop app don't show up individually on the Metro task switcher.

There's a problem there. WinRT apps are not designed to interact with the Win32 environment. They cannot "see" Win32 at all. It's designed like that for specific reasons.

You're trying to save something Microsoft is phasing out.

dagamer34 said,

If you give people the option to go back, they will never switch. See the classic start menu that survived all the way until Windows 7.


If you give people a BETTER option, they will switch. If not, they will stuck to the old ( more familiar and usable ). In Xp I didn't use classic Menu. In Vista i switch to it as i fell inconfortable with the small windows wit programs where i have to scroll and also with some other functionalty limits. In 7 I've installed classic Shell with XP menu skin - same as in 8.