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The Desktop will be going away in Threshold...kind of.

Shortly before Mary Jo Foley published her piece about the plans for Threshold, we had near-identical details from our own sources about the company's plans for the update. Hearing the same information corroborated by different sources certainly seems to validate and authenticate the details that we have each received.
We can now share some further details to add a bit more color regarding why certain moves are happening, along with some new information.

First of all, on smaller Windows devices - the ones where Microsoft gives away the license for free - the classic desktop will be going away. These devices will live in the Modern environment and this change is one of the reasons why the Surface mini did not ship.

This makes a lot of sense too - on small devices like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, the desktop is nearly impossible to use as you lack the precision of a mouse (this is also why the Surface Mini would have shipped with a pen) so keeping these devices locked to the Modern environment is logical.

Snapped apps will continue to work in the Modern environment on these devices, and we understand that there will be new options for organizing apps on screen in the Modern UI as well.

Yes, the desktop will be going away on smaller Windows tablets - Neowin
 

DavidY

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There's still a lot of stuff which is Desktop-only which will need rewriting for a Desktop-less Windows.

Printer drivers for instance - my HP printer driver has certain features which are only available via a Desktop dialog box - including the message which pops up to tell me I'm not using a genuine HP cartridge and won't print unless I respond to it. (There is a Metro version of this notification - it tells me to go to the Desktop to answer the message there!)

Are HP etc. really going to rewrite all their printer drivers to work without the Desktop? Or will the Metro-only versions of Windows only be compatible with a smaller subset of hardware?
 

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dmex

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this basically makes every Atom powered tablet pretty much useless for any x86 software unless Microsoft is devising a new UI that enables those devices to still run Win32 software.

That issue is directly related to Microsofts API feedback request for Windows Store apps:

Microsoft Creates Feedback Site for API Requests -- Visual Studio Magazine

E.g. What x86 APIs need to be ported enabling developers to port Win32 code to ARM devices or even allow Win32 applications to run on WinRT ;)
 

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echrada

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A lot of people bought the Dell Venue 8 pro and other similar devices so that they could have a full OS and a tablet. If MS is taking that away from them by banning the Desktop mode I can foresee a court case in the future. It would in fact mean they were sold something under false pretences. Either Dell or MS will be coughing up, maybe even both of them. A class action suit is definitely in the future as far as these type devices are concerned if this proves to be true.
 

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wpcoe

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What are the chances that a non-Desktop Windows Threshold (e.g. for an 8" tablet) could install and run all Windows x86/x64 programs, just that they would always be full-screen without the ability to have >1 visible at a time? It would be awkward, but I could probably to live with that (with <alt+tab> to switch programs.)

As to why anyone would want to be able to run Windows Desktop on a 10" or smaller device, it would be adequate (tolerable?) while on the road, but be fully functional when attached to an external monitor/mouse/keyboard at home or in the office and easier to cart around than a notebook.

I really wish Microsoft hadn't introduced this notion that with Threshold they will determine what is best for the end user. Why not just have the option for each user to choose which environment(s) to use? If someone wants to use Windows Threshold Desktop mode on an 8" tablet, give them that option. If someone wants to only operate in Modern mode on a desktop computer, give them that option, too. If someone likes the current arrangement of booting to Desktop but access to Modern apps, let users with any device do that, too. Have an overrideable default for only Modern on small devices and only Desktop on large devices, but let users have the option to change that.

This Tom's Hardware article poses a possible scenario that would work for me if it were also applied to 10" (or less) tablets:

For example, when running Windows Threshold in a mouse and keyboard environment, the desktop will be the platform's main focus. If Windows Threshold is installed on a 2-in-1 device, the interface will depend on whether the keyboard is connected (desktop) or not (Start screen).

Problem is, we are all just speculating. I'm retired now and don't have the surplus cash to waste on a potential throwaway tablet that I buy today for Windows 8.1 Desktop environment only to lose it if updating to Windows Threshold. The uncertainty is leaving the Surface Pro as one of the few viable candidates. Funny how that benefits Microsoft. ;)
 

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BlueMasterFX

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The desktop won't be going away on desktops or laptops, period. These computers were designed for many tasks like editing, playing, browsing, organizing, programming, all that stuff. The reason you can run modern apps on Windows 8 is to have developers make more money across all Windows devices. I see no problem in that, in fact, it makes it even more interesting. I mean if iOS apps ran on OS X, I'd be extremely happy but of course Apple didn't go that route so Microsoft is doing it instead.

The question that everyone should be asking is, what is a tablet? Does it make sense for a touch screen device to run a full blown desktop operating system that was not designed for that? Is it faster to organize my iTunes library with the mouse and keyboard, or with touch? So if Microsoft decides to remove the desktop from tablet devices, its a future proof move. I still don't understand why people need the whole desktop thing on a tablet. All the apps that are available in legacy Windows will eventually be rewritten for touch anyways. If the desktop keeps being bundled in tablets, then no developer will bother rewriting apps for touch. A tablet device is used to quickly get work done, not to use a pen and click the little close boxes or drag windows around with them.

Apple and Google did the correct thing. Microsoft has to do the same eventually and postponing it won't help, even if consumers start crying. By doing this, the fans of desktop pcs will be happy with their start menu and legacy applications and by eliminating the desktop from tablets, it will stimulate modern app growth. Maybe a full blown touch Photoshop can finally arrive in your local Windows App store. It's a win win on both sides.
 

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Coke Robot

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There's still a lot of stuff which is Desktop-only which will need rewriting for a Desktop-less Windows.

Printer drivers for instance - my HP printer driver has certain features which are only available via a Desktop dialog box - including the message which pops up to tell me I'm not using a genuine HP cartridge and won't print unless I respond to it. (There is a Metro version of this notification - it tells me to go to the Desktop to answer the message there!)

Are HP etc. really going to rewrite all their printer drivers to work without the Desktop? Or will the Metro-only versions of Windows only be compatible with a smaller subset of hardware?
This is a very good question indeed. The only thing I can think of is a new visual style wrapper around legacy software to make look modern maybe.

If they go the full on Windows RT style route and only provide class drivers for printers and such, that means a LOT of compatibility, a LOT, will be lost.
 

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    16 gig DDR3
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    x2 3 TB Toshibas
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Coke Robot

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The desktop won't be going away on desktops or laptops, period. These computers were designed for many tasks like editing, playing, browsing, organizing, programming, all that stuff. The reason you can run modern apps on Windows 8 is to have developers make more money across all Windows devices. I see no problem in that, in fact, it makes it even more interesting. I mean if iOS apps ran on OS X, I'd be extremely happy but of course Apple didn't go that route so Microsoft is doing it instead.

The question that everyone should be asking is, what is a tablet? Does it make sense for a touch screen device to run a full blown desktop operating system that was not designed for that? Is it faster to organize my iTunes library with the mouse and keyboard, or with touch? So if Microsoft decides to remove the desktop from tablet devices, its a future proof move. I still don't understand why people need the whole desktop thing on a tablet. All the apps that are available in legacy Windows will eventually be rewritten for touch anyways. If the desktop keeps being bundled in tablets, then no developer will bother rewriting apps for touch. A tablet device is used to quickly get work done, not to use a pen and click the little close boxes or drag windows around with them.

Apple and Google did the correct thing. Microsoft has to do the same eventually and postponing it won't help, even if consumers start crying. By doing this, the fans of desktop pcs will be happy with their start menu and legacy applications and by eliminating the desktop from tablets, it will stimulate modern app growth. Maybe a full blown touch Photoshop can finally arrive in your local Windows App store. It's a win win on both sides.

Give it a few years, apple is in a very slow process of combining ios into mac os. Even a rumor has gone so far as to say they'll use their Cortex processors for macs, the same that are used in ipads.

Well, many people define a tablet as many things. apple decided on popularizing a giant ipod touch as what is a tablet. Microsoft since even the late '90s and early 2000s defined a tablet as being the same as a laptop PC and a laptop is already categorized in the same group as a desktop PC. Even today, they still believe a tablet PC is one that does EVERYTHING you want it to, or at least as far as the hardware can be pushed.

This is of course, a good observation that a non-Desktop UI will be a further push for touch optimized software. Right now, the touch UI in general isn't the best it can be on any platform. It doesn't help that instead of pushing forward for touch, a mouse based UI is also bundled with EVERY touch device. It isn't so much the Desktop UI we care about, but the programming that runs in it, meaning Win32 and all of its abilities and APIs. Theoretically, it's possible to recode all of those mouse centric programs for touch, but again, a new UI/UX is needed to make it efficient and effective to use. Taking something like the Ribbon in Office 2013 and making it larger isn't an ideal solution. The OneNote MX app is a good idea with its use of the Radial menu style that keeps all the major commands and functions from taking up the workspace when not in use.

But it's a backtrack to what Microsoft envisioned, one UI style across all platforms. The laptop, desktop and larger tablet PCs like the Surface Pro 3 won't fit into the metro UI ecosystem they already have on Xbox and Windows Phone and everywhere else. The whole point of doing that was to take all the different distinct but similar devices and have them run on one common core with one common UI but tailored for that device. This is why they didn't originally use Windows Phone for their tablet OS because a smartphone OS isn't going to make that tablet a useful device than the phone. But an OS like Windows 8 on a tablet isn't necessarily all the best because of all the vestigial legacy parts that still dominate over the newer parts of it.

I find it would be best to just do a top to bottom redesign of Windows, much how the Windows Phone team once did with Windows Phone 7. They chucked out Windows Mobile, rebuilt it into something totally different and great. The same needs to be done with Windows, chuck out the old irrelevant parts, redesign the UI, and make a new window display management style. THEN maybe one UI and one OS can be used on any device no problem.
 

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    16 gig DDR3
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    ASUS R9 270
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    x2 3 TB Toshibas
    Windows 8.1 is installed on a SanDisk Ultra Plus 256 GB
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    A current work in progres as I'll be building the physical case myself. It shall be fantastic.
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wpcoe

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The question that everyone should be asking is, what is a tablet? Does it make sense for a touch screen device to run a full blown desktop operating system that was not designed for that? Is it faster to organize my iTunes library with the mouse and keyboard, or with touch? So if Microsoft decides to remove the desktop from tablet devices, its a future proof move. I still don't understand why people need the whole desktop thing on a tablet. All the apps that are available in legacy Windows will eventually be rewritten for touch anyways. If the desktop keeps being bundled in tablets, then no developer will bother rewriting apps for touch. A tablet device is used to quickly get work done, not to use a pen and click the little close boxes or drag windows around with them.

Different strokes for different folks.

I want a tablet to be the most portable computer to carry with me on my travels. For media consumption, say in bed or in a cramped airline seat or on a bus, I have the welcome option of not using a keyboard/mouse. When at home or in an office the option is there to attach a keyboard/mouse and use more as a desktop-type computer.

NOT all apps will be re-written for touch. Probably most retail apps will, but there's a ton of proprietary software that companies expect their employees to use, and that may well NOT be rewritten to be touch only.

While your world view of what a tablet is/should be works for you, it may not do so so well for others. Not a flame, just a comment from another perspective.
 

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    Dell U2312HM & Samsung 171N
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    1080x1920 (portrait) & 1280x1024
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    Intel 520, 120GB SSD
    Kingston SNV425S2 64GB SSD
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jimbo45

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Hi there

The newer brand of tablets are PC's in every sense of the word - keyboard / mouse etc -- but with the added Touch functions when needed -- and even in a "classical" work place environment Touch can be useful for some applications -- for example when giving presentations from a tablet type device projected on to a smart TV screen (wirelessly these days too). Scrolling to the next page via touch is much easier for the person giving the presentation than messing around with keyboard and mouse -- similarly moving / resizing windows on the demo.

What I can't see -- and NOBODY has answered it yet in spite of the question being posed is if you need to run several tasks concurrently and in particular cut and paste data from one application to another where you need several windows open AT THE SAME TIME - what should your "Modern desktop" OS look like. All modern desktop GUI's have some form of windowing -- maybe you can make the windows title free and borderless -- also active tasks can be dynamically updating windows instead of only the window with the focus - for instance a spread sheet updating data continuously from the web while another is running a stock trading system. A TRUE multi-tasking OS.

BTW I'll bet my surface pro 3 (just received !!!!)with 256 GB SSD and i7 processor will beat pretty well any current laptop hands down - or at least 90% of them - so mobile designed devices aren't necessarily low powered inferior devices.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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HippsieGypsie

It's Gururrrrrr8!
It was the summer of '68. I was 17 when I went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This was a year before the Apollo moon landing, which had aboard one of the smallest computers of the time: How powerful was the Apollo 11 computer?

I watched 2001 again the second time on New Years Eve 2001. I was absolutely amazed on how much of that movie came to reality in 32 years! A talking computer controlling and hijacking a rather large spacecraft?! Then it was impossible for a human to fly the Space Shuttle. It took a powerful miniaturized computer to do so. The point is predicting what tech will be in the future. The tech giants all have their vision and MS has theirs, which all include mobility and miniaturization.

Make no mistake that MS is "weaning" us all off the Desktop multitasking environment into the Modern/Metro, walled garden, native Cloud-centric, and (sooner or later) multitasking environment able to run across any device. That, I believe, is there ultimate goal. Not that savvy to know how they will accomplish multiple "snapping" windows in the Modern/Metro, for apps have to be able to run across different size screens. That to me seems to be the biggest hurdle. It's not that any software can't be written in that environment. That will eventually come. Incidentally, my HP all-in-one has a Modern/Metro app to it, although the driver is Win32. If Hp or any company wants to join MS's vision, then all things will be ported there. It's as simple as that. A safer walled garden system just makes too much sense let alone running on any device.

@ Jumbo

Congratulations on buying and receiving your Surface and anyone else for that matter. You are a good example of an "older" pro that keeps an open mind on new tech. It seems to me that if and when MS creates a defined Modern/Metro multitasking environment you'll be one to totally switch over. I see others here as well.

Here's something else I think will eventually come to be. Kari's post on this page: What would you like to see in Window 9? | Page 3 | Windows 9 Forums

Last but not least > We, although advanced in tech at our own levels, are a minority of users. I think when enterprise and the general public finally get what MS is up to they will gobble it up. An OS to run across multiple devices. An initial cost in training, but in the long run it will be less expensive. No training on different devices. It will all be familiar.

Oh! One more thing. Is MS intruding their search engine, advertising, services, and the like? You bet'cha. They all are. Doesn't seem to be any way around it except perhaps a few systems like Linux, but if they become popular that will eventually come.. The market rules. It's the way of Capitalism.
 

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DavidY

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