Windows 8 is going to be big news when it is launched in late 2012, with websites, magazines, newspapers and TV shows dedicating column inches and reports on the latest consumer operating system from Microsoft. As you’re probably already aware, Windows 8 will feature a version of the Metro UI, the tile-based user interface currently found on the Xbox 360 console and Windows Phones.
In the opinion of some, Microsoft is taking a gamble introducing Metro UI for computers. Users without a touch screen device, for instance, will only be able to interact with the tile-based interface via their mouse. This isn’t a major problem but defeats the object – Metro UI was built for fingers, after all. Could Metro UI take a bit of getting used to?
We’ve previously looked at apps that you can install on Windows 7 that will allow you to get as big a Windows 8 experience as possible. Forget about driverless Developer Previews; Omnimo UI is the best window into the future of Microsoft’s desktop, laptop and tablet OS.
Installing & Configuring Omnimo
To use the Omnimo overlay user interface for Windows 7, you will first need to install Rainmeter 2.1, available from this site. This is a desktop customization management utility, designed to allow the easy addition of skins for Windows.
After downloading the slim 1.3MB file, install Rainmeter and then turn your attention to the Omnimo website. Click the Download tab and find the link for the 22MB Zip file (which can be used with Windows XP and Vista).
Once downloaded, extract the contents of the archive and double click the Setup.rmskin file and click Install. You will notice various Segoe fonts are listed as being part of the installation; these are key elements of successfully reproducing Metro. If you already have Rainmeter on your system you should upgrade this before running Omnimo.
The first thing you will see post-install is the Omnimo setup screen. Choose the options you require, click the right arrow to proceed to your language choice and then decide between three variant Metro themes. The first is based on Windows Phone, the second on Metro; the third is a blank, configurable theme.
With your choice made, select the preferred resolution and a few moments later you will be enjoying Metro in Windows 7!
Metro UI for Windows 7
So with the Omnimo Metro theme installed, how do you continue using Windows?
Well, it’s pretty simple: you just point and click! While not a completely accurate representation of Metro (there is no left-right scrolling, for instance) it is a very usable theme, allowing the user to get to grips with the unusual new interface.
Further customization is available via the right arrow in the centre-right of the screen, where you can add new tiles; existing tiles can be deleted by clicking the X in the top-right corner or adjusted using the small spanner icon (each visible when you mouse-over). Similarly, tiles can be dragged around.
There is a lot to play with in the Omnimo Metro theme for Rainmeter, from adding CPU monitors and adjusting your local weather to adding RSS feeds, altering tile backgrounds and much more.
There is a whole bunch of Metro and Metro-esque applications for Windows 7 available online but none of them offer the comprehensive experience offered by Omnimo.
If you’re unsure about Windows 8 and want to get to grips with the Metro UI and find out whether it is something you’re comfortable using long-term, or if you’re in love with the user interface and have been longing for Windows 8 to be released, this could be the answer to your prayers. Certainly you don’t need to worry about partitioning hard disk drives or creating virtual machines using this method, making Omnimo an easy choice.
Let us know in the comments what you think of it.