Windows 8.1 update may serve Metro apps from the desktop

Leaked screenshots of an upcoming update show an option to open Windows Store apps from the taskbar.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Windows 8.1 could move a step closer to bridging the gap between the Start screen and the desktop.

Microsoft reportedly will roll out an update to its latest OS as soon as this spring. And one option apparently slated for that update will let you launch Metro apps without having to switch to the Start screen.

The latest screenshots of the update posted by Russian Web site Wzor show an icon for the Windows Store app nestled on the taskbar. Further, the taskbar and navigation properties window reveals a setting called "Show Store apps on the taskbar."

The setting itself doesn't indicate whether launching a Store app from the taskbar actually runs the app in the desktop or simply transports you to the Start screen to run the app. I suspect it's the latter. Microsoft reportedly is working on a way to run Windows Store apps directly in the desktop, but that capability isn't likely to surface until Windows 9 debuts, possibly in 2015.

Several Start menu replacement utilities, such as Classic Shell and RetroUI Pro, already give you the ability to launch Metro apps from the desktop.

The public rollout of the Windows 8.1 update reportedly is scheduled to coincide with Microsoft's Build 2014 conference, which will run from April 2 to 4.

(Via The Verge)