Windows 8 Metro and Sage ACT! – What you need to know now
byBrianMowka02-25-201302:13 PM - edited 02-26-201308:50 AM
For those of you who have made the switch over to Windows 8, OR who may be considering doing so, I’d like to explain a few things about the new interface in Windows 8 called “Metro (Mode)” and how it impacts Sage ACT!.
First of all, let talk about Windows 8 and what’s new. While there are some really useful new features like updated Task Manager, Login system advancements, Windows 8 store, hardware support additions (USB 3.0), etc – The single most impactful for users is undoubtedly the new user interface layer called “Metro (mode)”. If you have ever booted Window 8 you have seen this new “Metro” interface. Many people are quite surprised and quite simply confused about this new interface as it is a radical departure visually. One of the 1st things every Windows 8 user needs to know is how to get back to “Desktop” mode. Simply click on the “Box” that says “Desktop” in the lower left of the Metro UI and you will be greeted with a very familiar UI again – Pretty much the same interface you have been using for the last 10-15 years. This is often referred to as “Desktop” mode or sometimes even “Classic” mode. While I will leave it up to you to decide which mode you prefer best (I’m a desktop mode guy myself) based on the look-and-feel. What I would like to do is help you understand some of differences (Primarily impacting Sage ACT! Premium web client) that are more than just skin deep.
Let’s start by looking at the differences between internet explorers’ metro vs. desktop mode. At first you may think that there are no differences, they pretty much look and behave the same outside of a few minor UI differences (URL Bar on bottom and no border). Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are many significant differences that impact large numbers of (web) applications and plugins/add-ons. The most obvious limitation is simply the lack of plugin support in metro mode internet explorer. Yes, that’s correct, they really are not supported. No form fillers, password utilities, twitter/facebook add-ins, etc, - they all don’t work anymore in metro mode of internet explorer. On top of that, a few very prominent technologies are not supported – (Adobe) Flash, Silverlight, and ACTIVE X (COM). Obviously these are quite large omissions for the browser world, so why? Well, it really boils down to a two reasons. First and most prominent is security according to Microsoft (feel free to search web for details), secondarily they would rather push those developers to use HTML5 instead
Knowing all this is just great, but what does all this mean for Sage ACT? Well, it turns out to mean quite a bit. Sage ACT! Premium has a web interface that has been gaining ground in popularity and is also the primary interface for our hosted program. Many of the features that you, as users, have come to expect will unfortunately be unavailable in internet explorers’ metro mode. This is because we use the ACTIVE X interface as a way of communicating with the OS’s applications, primarily – Mail Merge, Outlook/Google integration, Sending Email/History creation, Scratchpad Web Detection/import.
So, how do you work around this limitation for web client? There are a few different ways. The easiest way is quite simply always run internet explorer in desktop mode by switching to desktop mode (if you are not already there) and simply run internet explorer there. Also, as a bit of a trick, if you simply set your default browser to something/anything other than internet explorer it actually forces any running of internet explorer to run in desktop mode. I realize that’s a bit unusual, but I’ve read that indeed works. Lastly, my tip of the day, is to simply set your internet setting to always launch in desktop mode for internet explorer which is a new option to Windows 8.
So, as we have seen, for all the good that can come out of getting a new OS version, there are always some growing pains - In the case of Windows 8, its’ metro mode and different versions of internet explorer per mode.
Let’s all count ourselves lucky that workarounds to do indeed exist and can be leveraged.
I hope this helps to give you a few pointers on metro mode and explain the impact on Sage ACT!’s web client.