Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

Don't get your hopes up too high!

A new rumor (you know the drill, unsourced, unverified) has bubbled to the surface relating to Windows 8 ARM devices. The scuttlebutt is that Microsoft is planning to allow a restricted desktop experience on the ARM version of Windows 8.

Tom Warren of The Verge has the details:

Microsoft is said to be contemplating a restricted desktop for Windows 8 ARM involving trusted certificates for ARM desktop applications.


Desktop applications on Windows 8 ARM will likely be restricted to just Internet Explorer and Office, and we're hearing the Office team has put a lot of effort into Office 15 to ensure it is power efficient for ARM devices.

OK, so this is a rumor and we have nothing concrete to go on, but the truth is that this is the sort of scenario that I was expecting, and it makes sense for a number of reasons

  • Some applications just don't work in that Metrofied workspace. They're too awkward and too restrictive. I don't care how well designed they are, there are times (and workflow scenarios) where full-screen apps are a time-suck.
  • I predict that the ARM architecture will start making inroads into the desktop space with Windows 8. While Metro apps are fine on tablets and touch devices, they're going to be kludgy on desktops (because if they weren't, we'd have Metro-style apps already, wouldn't we?).
  • Enterprise wouldn't welcome the additional training burden of switching from applications like Office to apps.
  • Office is a massive money-spinner for Microsoft. Office 'apps' would be nowhere near as lucrative and would likely wean business off the full-blown application suite onto a cheaper platform. If users (in particular enterprise users) realize that they really only use some 10% of the features on offer in a suite like Office, they're going too start to look for something that costs 10% of the price of Microsoft Office.
  • Internet Explorer is already under enough pressure from the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox without Microsoft giving people an excuse to try something new because they're being foisted onto a Metrofied IE.

So, while we have no evidence to support this rumor, it does make sense that Microsoft would want to retain a classic desktop of sorts even on ARM devices. While that desktop wouldn't have any legacy support, it would allow Microsoft and other developers the chance to port their x86/x64 applications to ARM and retain the existing UI. These applications are likely to be far too power and resource hungry to run on tablets, but if ARM desktops and notebooks take off, that would be an ideal home for such hybrid applications.



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