Windows 8 represents a significant change for both Microsoft and operating systems in general. As a result of this change, some quirky functionality remains in the OS that Microsoft will hopefully iron out over time. One of these quirky items is the way that Internet Explorer 10 works in both the desktop and “Metro” interfaces.
By default, IE 10 is available to users as a full-screen Metro app via the Start screen. Full-screen apps, especially on desktop platforms, are a controversial subject, so many users quickly installed alternative Web browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox, after upgrading to Windows 8.
Once other browsers were installed, however, some users who wished to go back to the Metro version of IE found that the Start screen app tile looked different, and that clicking on it launched the Desktop version of the browser. This is due to an interesting choice by Microsoft to disable the Metro version of IE 10 if another Web browser has been installed and configured as the system’s default browser.
Thankfully, changing this setting to restore IE’s Metro interface is easy.
First, bring up the Start screen and begin to type “Default Programs” until an app with the same name appears on the left. Open it and you’ll be brought to the Control Panel in the Desktop mode. Choose “Set your default programs.”
Next, select Internet Explorer from the list of apps on the left, and then click “Set this program as default” on the right side of the window. After a moment or two, the window will notify you that “This program has all its defaults.”
Finally, close the Control Panel window and go back to the Start screen. You’ll see that the Internet Explorer tile has reverted to the default “Metro” style. Clicking on it will launch the full-screen version of the browser, but launching the app from the Desktop will still enable windowed mode for users who aren’t ready to fully commit to the full-screen experience.
It’s unclear if Microsoft will change the way that IE behaves in Windows 8 with future updates, but as of the date of this article, setting another browser as the system default will disable the Metro version of IE. Of course, you can always perform the steps above to return to the default setup if that occurs.