Microsoft has announced some of the features of its upcoming version of Windows – Windows 8. The most talked about feature of this new version of Windows is its new user interface called Metro UI. It basically has many tiles which can be customized to hold different kinds of widgets like weather, control panel and various other widgets. If you cannot wait for Windows 8 to be released, then you can add the Metro UI of Windows 8 in your existing Windows 7 installation using the Mosaic Project for free. Here is how :
- Download Mosaic from the Mosaic Project web site at http://mosaicproject.codeplex.com/. At present time, this software is in the beta stage so it may have some bugs and errors. Mosaic has been designed using the Microsoft .NET 4 Framework, so you need to install .NET 4 in Windows 7 before you can use the Mosaic software. You can download the Microsoft .NET 4 redistributable from http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=17718.
- The Mosaic software does not need to be installed. Just extract the contents of the downloaded ZIP archive using a tool like jZip. After you have extracted all the files to a folder, double-click on Mosaic.exe to run Mosaic. You would soon see Mosaic running in fullscreen. Do not panic when Mosaic takes over your screen and hides everything else – you can press the Alt + Tab hotkey to switch to other applications. When Mosaic runs for the first time, it would show only two tiles – date and time tile and the Mosaic Store tile.
- To add more tiles (widget), click on the Mosaic Store tile where you can find many more widgets. Choose any widget by clicking on its picture and then install it by clicking on the Install button. The following picture shows a snapshot of the Mosaic Store where you can pick many widgets to install. You can drag the screen to the left and the right to browse through the gallery of widgets.
- Even after an widget is installed in Mosaic, it will not appear on any tile until you add it the Mosaic interface. To add a new widget, click on the the Add button in the sidebar in the right side of your screen (if the sidebar is not showing, click on the arrow next to your login name and computer name in the top-right corner). Then choose the widget you want to show in a tile, and it would appear in a new tile in the main Mosaic interface.
- From the sidebar, you can also choose to pin any other Windows application (like Notepad or Microsoft Word etc.) to the Mosaic. Similarly, you can pin web site URLs so you can easily access them from the Mosaic interface. You can also change options for the Mosaic from the sidebar by clicking on the Options icon. This would open the Settings page for Mosaic. On the Settings page, you can choose various options like enabling taskbar when Mosaic is running, whether to run Mosaic in fullscreen or windowed etc. If you want, you can set Mosaic to auto-start with Windows by selecting the checkbox labeled Start Mosaic automatically with Windows. In the UI section, you can choose settings for the Mosaic user interface like showing menu, background image and color (which is purple by default) etc.
- And the most important thing, if you are wondering how to close Mosaic – it is very simple. Just open the Mosaic sidebar (by clicking on the arrow next to your login name and computer name in the top-right corner). Then in the sidebar, at the bottom, click on the Exit button.
Mosaic Project does nothing special but brings you the look and feel of the upcoming Windows 8. The best thing I liked about Mosaic is that it does not alter any of the Windows 7 system files or settings – it is just a separate standalone application. So if you want to enjoy, impress your friends and have some fun with the Windows 8 Metro like interface of the Mosaic Project, then go ahead and give it a try.