No Windows desktop mode!? No!

The early look at Blue have some Windows experts thinking that Microsoft is getting ready to dump Windows 8's desktop mode once and for all in favor of Metro. No!
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

It comes as no surprise to anyone who reads my stories that I hate Windows 8's Metro interface. I'm not alone. Lots of people hate it. But instead of switching back to an Aero-style interface, perhaps the most respected technical Windows writer out there, blogger Paul Thurrott, looked at the leaked Windows Blue release and thinks Microsoft is planning on dumping Windows Desktop mode entirely. No!

Will Metro be Windows' only interface soon? Some experts think so.

I've thought all along that one way Microsoft could save Windows 8 from its current market malaise if it would make its desktop mode the primary interface instead of Metro.

That isn't what Thurrott sees happening though. In fact, he sees the exact opposite.

Thurrott wrote, "All the action in this build is in PC settings, and if you were looking for any further proof the desktop being eased out going forward, look no further than this. As noted in the previous report, there are a ton of new settings in there now, including many items that were previously only available in the desktop-based Control Panel interface. This is clearly an indication of how we get from here (Windows 8) to there (Windows 9, with potentially no desktop)." As further proof, he observed, "The default apps interface has been completely Metro-ized in this release."

Some observers, like ComputerWorld's Preston Gralla, agree with him: "There's a reasonable chance that Microsoft will finally get around to killing the Desktop in Windows 9," Gralla writes. "With Windows 8, Microsoft did its best to make the Desktop at best an afterthought, relegating it to a tile on the Start screen. Windows 8 has been built for touch and the horizontal orientation of a tablet, and the Desktop has no place in that world."

Others, such as Byte's Larry Seltzer, disagree: "Can anyone actually believe this? Earth to Paul: The Windows desktop is a major strength of the operating system, 'especially' as compared to the competition. There is an ocean of expertise and customized software out there on the Windows desktop, and Microsoft would never alienate these people."

I'd agree with Seltzer, except... well, Microsoft is already alienating those users. I know some Windows 8 PC users. The majority of them zoom past Metro and get to a normal Windows Desktop as fast as possible. If Thurrott is right, Windows users will be locked into Metro once and for all. That will fly as well as a lead brick.

One source close to Microsoft told me he can't see Microsoft dumping the desktop anytime soon. "There's the little, itty-bitty problem of hundreds of thousands of desktop applications that will take years, if not longer, to migrate to WinRT API-based apps. Just bringing Office alone to WinRT will be a Manhattan Project."

Of course, Microsoft does have one way around this problem: Move all its business apps to the cloud and make them software as a service (SaaS) apps. This fits in nicely with Ed Bott's vision of Microsoft's future as a cloud-based service provider with its own hardware line, Surface.

If moving its business applications to the cloud really is the plan, then Microsoft could indeed leave Windows 8's desktop mode behind. I wouldn't be happy about it, and I don't see that I'd ever like Metro, but a combination of cloud services and Windows-based devices with Metro interfaces could win for Microsoft.

It's beginning to look more and more like if you want a traditional desktop, you're going to need to use Linux. Who'd thought it? 

As a long-time desktop Linux user, that's fine by me, but I wonder if Windows users really want to follow me to Linux, or if they'd rather just have a working, Aero-style desktop instead of a cloud-based Metro device? I'd bet they'd really rather have their fine old desktop anyday. 

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