Kill the Desktop!: The Adventure Begins

Editor’s note: This is the start of a two part series

So many people have such a hard time grasping Windows 8 and Windows RT; the tiles, the jarring difference between the Start Screen and the desktop, and the missing Start button (My God they killed the the Stop Button); that something must, MUST be done to restore balance to the force.

Many power users cling to the hope that Microsoft will abandon the folly of Windows 8 and go back to the true path that is the desktop. That Microsoft will give them the option to hide the Start screen from the light and return to them the orb of Start.

Others wish Microsoft copied Apple and Google and used Windows Phone for a tablet. How nice they say would it have been to have seen Windows Phone apps blown up to tablet size.

This endless battle over the soul and direction of Windows  has led me to think there is only one, clear option (dramatic pause) Kill the Desktop.

(Cue dramatic intro music)  

I recently read this article and the consensus was that Windows 8 needs work, but disagreed on the how. The debate (as it always does) is between making the OS more friendly to power users and desktop enthusiasts, or pushing it further toward mobile scenarios. I mean one succession was to abandon touch and move toward a Kinect like interface.

I think part of the problem with Windows 8is that it takes a clear idea; that tablets and PCs are largely the same and are linked closer than phones and PCs; and muddles it.  Some of this has to do with Windows RT, but not much. And part of it with the message of what Windows 8 is and what benefit it brings to users.

Windows 8’s biggest story is that it makes PCs more mobile. The fact that for the same price as an iPad, you can have a device that offers similar battery life and you don’t need two devices is a tempting narrative.  Now RT does muddle that story because of its lack of backwards compatibility, but makes up for it by offering Office for free.

(People tend to overlook that RT devices were going to be limited to a handful of devices).

Now I’m not going to go into a defense of Windows RT, what I want to discuss is what should happen next for Windows 8. And yes it begins by killing the desktop.


As I see it the desktop as it stands now is an impediment to the goals of Windows 8. Its a crutch for businesses and developers (even though both have no issue in looking at iOS). Its an easy mark for detractors and reviewers (you complain about touch on the desktop you know it wasn’t designed for). And slows progress (Win32 is old and needs to be rethought).

Now what I’m about to propose isn’t really a death sentence, what it is is an acknowledgement of use cases and needs; from both the user perspective and Microsoft. I mean even the harshest Windows 8 critic has to know that Windows 8 and RT isn’t about desktop computing; its about addressing the growth of tablets. And Microsoft knows or should know that desktop users are their biggest advocates.

So the goal of this isn’t about compromise (that is too negative a connotation and gets in the way) but a balance (a set of goals that equal an effect). The goal here is simple; create a better balance between Windows’ tablet and traditional apps, improve traditional program performance on SOCs, and give users the ability to run traditional apps on RT. I have others but I’ll start here.

So turn in next time for Part Two


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