Will Windows 9 Kill the Desktop?

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As Microsoft prepares to unveil a Windows 8.1 update that will reportedly make mouse users happier, the next version of Windows could spell doom for the desktop altogether. At this week's Build conference in San Francisco, the company is expected to provide a sneak peek of Windows 9, which will provide one experience across phones, tablets and PCs.

This particular version of Windows 9 won't be the only flavor of the OS, according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, but it's clear that Microsoft wants to move away from legacy desktop apps.

MORE: Windows 9 Rumors: New Start Menu, Apps on Desktop, More

In fact, Microsoft is also expected to unveil a touch-friendly version of Office at Build, which makes sense in light of the recent debut of Office for iPad. Many see a Modern version of Office for Windows as one of the last key pieces of the puzzle.

Predicted to arrive in the spring of 2015, the sku of Windows 9 that would run on multiple types of devices is codenamed Threshold. It would power Windows Phones, as well as ARM-based tablets and PCs. 

At Build Microsoft will also likely provide a clearer roadmap for developers on how to write one app for both Windows Phone and Windows 8. Despite the two operating systems sharing a similar core, we haven't seen many apps that take advantage of both platforms. 

What about today's Windows? The update to Windows 8.1  should make keyboard and mouse users feel more at home with the OS. For example, rumors point to a taskbar that's easy to access when you're on the Start screen and using Modern apps.

So why go through this trouble to make Windows more desktop friendly if Windows 9 could make it irrelevant? As tablets and phones become the computing device of choice, Microsoft will likely offer a version of the OS that caters to traditional PCs, but the bigger thrust will likely be mobile. That's where the world is going, whether Windows fans like it or not.

What remains to be seen is whether Microsoft can really pull off an operating system that feels natural on small, medium and large screens. Apple, for example, has no plans to conjoin the mobile and desktop experiences. PC makers, however, have been a lot more aggressive in creating 2-in-1 laptop-tablet hybrids that seek to offer the best of both worlds.

We'll have to wait and see whether Windows 9 will finally realize that vision--or cause shoppers to embrace other platforms.

via ZDNet


Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • mmfiend Says:

    If this happens, I'm switching to Linux permanently. I like my computers to be computers and my tablets and phones to be tablets and phones. Microsoft will die because it tried to be something that it wasn't.

  • R Edwards Says:

    App are toy program fine to play with but a pain to do any real work software co are trying to have all there program on a server somewhere so thay can control them and charge for them like cable tv they can also use data about what you are doing to marketing co people are so dumb today they will probably do it after all when I was a teenager the last thing I wanted was a way my folks could track me and now kid fight to be tracked!

  • Al Dente Says:

    So I assume this means MS is giving up on the business world - ?? How the &%#! am I supposed to use a spreadsheet or editor swiping my fingers across the screen for 8 hours a day?

    Whatever lunacy they want, they can have. My employer's already migrating to Linux so it's bye-bye, Microsoft no matter what.

  • Anton Markov Says:

    If Windows 9 have no desktop and have only touch system I will make hard touch William Gates balls direct(X) :D from my PC screen.

  • robby Says:

    one more reason move to mac <3

  • AMRooke Says:

    Killing the desktop will mean killing the OS. Touchscreens are useful on phones and tablets, but are little more than a novelty on desktop PCs. Likewise, the modern/metro UI works great on phones and tablets, but it is way too limited in capabilities for use on desktop PCs. Modern/metro doesn't have a way to view multiple application displays simultaneously, sizing and placing onscreen as needed to meet user needs.

    The desktop UI is for doing serious work (what desktop PCs are for) and the modern/metro UI is for entertainment and light computing.

  • Ari Ermawan Says:

    Killing the desktop?? Oh, I would strongly suggest that Mr. Satya Nadella keeps raising his arm and poking to his desktop or laptop screen while working or browsing and see if he likes it.

    And after few weeks to he can observe the signs of scratches on his screen or the signs of him having a "goriila arm".

    In the end, if he still likes it then he can consider killing the desktop and crushing the mouse.

  • Paul Says:

    Hasn't the Ubuntu OS been doing the same for a while?

    This idea of unify & simply & 1 OS to rule them all was not taken too warmly by a lot of people.

  • BillyBoy Says:

    I guess they will never learn, it's like they are trying to suicide the company.

  • Sean Says:

    Hey Microsoft, I have an idea for your new OS. It's called "desktop mode". LOL!!!

  • SteveQ Says:

    "Apple, for example, has no plans to conjoin the mobile and desktop experiences"

    Until Microsoft finally succeeds in doing so, then Apple will follow, insisting they were actually first and that Microsoft copied them.

  • Joe Average Says:

    Spent the morning setting up a Win8 latop. Yes, it has a touchscreen that flips around. The hardware is nice but Win8 seemed to get in the way at every step of the way reducing the speed of the things I was working to accomplish. First I had to add Classic Menu after wandering around the computer looking for the control panel menus I have used for years on every previous version of Windows.

    Adding users was irritating too b/c it kept taking me from the older style menu that I found through Classic Menu to the new touchscreen control panel applet.

    In short Microsoft - I hated Win8. I wouldn't buy a Win8 machine for anything. I will be directing people at work, home and my family to avoid Win8 and grab a Win7 license and wait for the folks at Redmond to come to their senses. Alternatively - I'm advising folks to buy a Mac or go with my favorite Mint Linux 16 KDE.

  • Loren Says:

    My bet is that they end up with a Windows9 Business Edition - desktop and legacy OS and Win8.1RT becomes the consumer edition called something like ieOS or mcOS ( Microsoft Connected OS ). with a super strip down sized version of RT. In other words, MS copies Google ChromeOS and they push out many new devices between $250 to $500 . Tablets should hit the wall and possibly go down in sales in another year or two as people find the 3# Netbooks / Laptops more useful.

  • BH Says:

    Microsoft would be a fool to get rid of the desktop completely along with Win32. Microsoft would be committing suicide by doing something like this. Getting rid of the desktop for tablets is a good idea, but they wont for a Windows 9 edition for traditional PC users!

  • Tom Bartholomae Says:

    What a bunch of Blockheads. People using PCs sitting at a desk with a Keyboard & Mouse are NOT going to be reaching up and touching and pointing on the screen! I had to yell at the people at work about that Years ago way before Touch Screens because their ADD brains had them pointing things out on the CRT screens and leaving their fingerprints all over it.

    You Have to have an operating environment for the Office be it work or home and that's Keyboard and Mouse NOT the Tablet OS. They're different animals why don't they get that?

  • mirekk Says:

    First Windows 9 will kill desktop and then users will kill Windows 9 :P

  • tman Says:

    There will almost certainly be an SKU of Windows 9 that has the desktop totally removed, but there will almost certainly be one (Windows 9 Enterprise) where all focus is still on the desktop. Corporates need the classic interface, and have no interest in Metro.

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