Back in October 2012 when Microsoft officially introduced the new Windows 8 modern operating system, people were pretty shocked with how much time the Redmond company had spent to develop touch-based features. A few even claimed that, at some point in the future, the traditional mouse and keyboard input method could disappear completely due to the growing interest in touch devices.
Even though such a thing could sound quite stupid for some people, these rumors actually make sense up to one point.
First of all, given Microsoft’s increased interest in a touch-based environment, people were starting to believe that the Modern UI, which was introduced in Windows 8, could replace the desktop altogether and thus turn the entire Windows operating system into a platform completely optimized for the touch.
A desktop-less Windows is not at all impossible given the fact that Microsoft’s flagship operating system is now available on tablets and other devices as well, so don’t be too surprised if the desktop is removed (or hidden) in the near future. But, even so, this is only possible on tablets running Windows RT and not on those that can be powered by the full version of the operating system.
And the reason is as simple as it could be.
Microsoft claims that devices capable of running Windows 8.1 x64 and x86 are powerful productivity machines, so without a desktop, such a thing is fairly impossible.
Get a Surface Pro, plug in a mouse, attach a Touch or Type Cover and there you go, a very portable productivity device that can be used just like a regular laptop. Remove the desktop and you get a more powerful Surface RT unit that can only be used with the touch for simple tasks such as sending emails, checking the weather forecast, and playing games.
No matter how hard it tries to change this, the PC market continues to be Microsoft’s number one industry for the Windows operating system, so without features that can be used with a mouse and keyboard, its platform can no longer exist.
The company has apparently understood this critical idea and started changing some of the features it recently implemented in modern Windows to better tackle the PC market and thus stop the migration from Windows to other operating systems that could still be used with a mouse.
Even though it still has a Start screen, Windows will soon get a Start menu as well, but only on PCs with mice and keyboards. That does make sense, given the fact that users need to launch apps quickly, so the Start screen isn’t quite the best choice for them. Consumers have been calling for a Start menu for more than a year, but Microsoft always said that it was just a matter of time until everyone got used to the Start screen, rejecting the idea that Windows 8 adopters might, in the end, be right.
In addition, the company tweaked Windows 8.1 Update to better tackle the PC industry, so it now comes with simple options to pin Metro apps to the taskbar and power controls right on the Start screen. The same controversial Start screen also has context menus, implemented with the same idea in mind: make everything easier for PC users.
Since the BUILD 2014 developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft has talked about the desktop more than everything else, emphasizing that most of the changes it makes to the operating system are supposed to improve the experience with a mouse and keyboard. Even though Metro is here to stay, that is.
Today, Terry Myerson, the man in charge with the operating systems unit at Microsoft, concluded with something that’s just as true as it is encouraging for everyone: “the desktop is the core of Windows.”
It’s pretty clear that the desktop will never die, simply because a PC can’t live without it. The PC remains Microsoft’s number one cash cow so, by killing the desktop, the company would basically kill its main source of money.
A PC with a desktop is more or less the easiest way to get things done in a very familiar way and that’s not going to change soon. Even though tablets have experienced a significant growth in the last couple of years, PCs remain the most productive devices on the planet and some industry sectors would not be able to survive without them. So, by killing the desktop, Microsoft would also reduce productivity all over the world.