What are Modern Apps?

by Barry Dysert
(last updated November 26, 2018)


Modern apps can probably best be understood by comparing them with classic apps. There is some name confusion between the two. Modern apps are also known as metro apps or Windows Store apps. Classic apps are sometimes known as desktop apps (which is an unfortunate name, since modern apps run on the desktop as well). On Windows 8 and 8.1, modern and classic applications were pretty clearly separated, but with Windows 10, there's much less of a separation between the two types of applications.

To the user, there isn't much difference between a modern app and a classic app. The former runs on Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 10 PCs, and tablets. Classic apps are built for Windows 7, 8, and 10 desktop systems. A modern app has no outside frame and fills the entire screen by default. They can, though, start in a window, and if so they often sport a "hamburger menu" and have their title in the upper-left instead of centered.

You can only get modern apps from the Windows Store, and you can only run one modern app at a time. No more multi-tasking as you can with classic apps. (I realize this can be both good and bad.) And modern apps follow a "sandboxed" security model to prevent them from wreaking havoc on your entire system. In general, modern apps tend to be more like mobile apps versus classic apps which are still designed for the PC desktop. Unless you're a developer, though, the biggest difference you'll see between the two types of apps is the user interface.

 This tip (13588) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...


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What is 3 + 9?

2018-11-28 01:33:50



I agree with you. I downloaded what I thought was a full Acrobat Reader, and was frustrated for an hour by its limited abilities; I couldn't print in colour for example.
I then figured out I downloaded the app not the application.

Why the confusion? Is it about control?

2018-11-26 07:01:09

David in Mississippi

I should think that the biggest difference - besides terminology - would be in the capabilities. And while we are at it, how about let's call these things what they truly are: "Modern Apps" are actually "Applets" or very small-footprint applications, or one-function limited computer programs. "Classic Apps" are truly COMPUTER PROGRAMS. This includes such programs as Microsoft Word and Excel, Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop, and any of the hundreds of commercial desktop computer programs I have developed. Calling these programs an "application" is not wrong, but it is misleading. Calling full-fledged, robust computer programs "Apps" is definitely a misnomer, and is simply a lazy person's abbreviation of the word "application," especially considering what the term "app" has come to mean in respect to mobile devices.

For anyone who cares about the accuracy of the language they use, I would strongly encourage you to DON'T BE LAZY in your terminology, to use "Apps" to refer only to those applets intended solely for mobile devices AND that are available only through the store associated with that mobile device. Use the term *Computer Program* for any of the more robust applications that require more than a mobile device to run.

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