Windows Blue Leak Brings More Evidence of the Desktop’s Decline

Don't worry, the desktop isn't going away in Windows Blue, but it doesn't seem as vital as it is in Windows 8 and Windows RT

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For desktop diehards who thought the next version of Windows might roll back some of Windows 8’s sweeping changes, keep dreaming.

Windows Blue, an update to Windows 8 that will reportedly launch this year, has leaked onto the Internet. Features include new Modern-style apps such as Sound Recorder and Calculator, easier home-screen customization, the ability to make app tiles even smaller or larger and an expanded Snap view that lets each app cover half the screen. Paul Thurrott has good overviews here and here. Engadget has a whole bunch of screenshots.

The most noticeable — and the most positive — change is the dwindling importance of the traditional desktop. Don’t worry, the desktop isn’t going away in Windows Blue, but it doesn’t seem as vital as it is in Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Exhibit A is the handful of new apps that will be built into Windows Blue, particularly Calculator and Sound Recorder. By creating these Modern-style apps, Microsoft is duplicating core programs that are currently desktop-only.

A more significant example is the expansion of the Modern-style PC Settings menu to include things that used to reside only in the desktop Control Panel. These expanded options include default-app controls, time-and-language settings, display options and network settings. Microsoft may also be building sync options for SkyDrive into the Modern-style interface, so you don’t have to go to the desktop to choose which files are stored in the cloud.

The net result will be fewer mandatory shifts between the Modern-style interface and the desktop, and less of a feeling like Windows 8’s big changes are merely superficial. This is especially important for tablets, on which the desktop is a cumbersome tool, but it also makes the new interface more practical for laptops and desktop PCs.

win8newapps

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For people who aren’t power users, the new interface in Windows 8 is a simpler alternative to the desktop. The Windows Store provides a safe place for useful, eye-catching apps, and features like Snap and search are more intuitive than their desktop analogues ever were. Windows 8 is also better-suited for future input methods like motion and eye control.

The problem is that Windows 8 still uses the desktop like a sewer system; once in a while, you’ll fall through a feature manhole and wind up there. From what we’ve seen of Windows Blue, fixing this problem seems to be a top priority for Microsoft. As Windows moves more core functions over to the Modern-style interface, the desktop will become more of a utility — something you turn to for a particular task or legacy app.

Of course, power users will howl, but I see no reason that third-party solutions can’t continue to fill in. Programs like Start8 and Pokki are doing a fine job of retaining the desktop-centric experience of Windows 7 and earlier. As long as Microsoft doesn’t kill the desktop completely — something that doesn’t seem likely to happen for a long time — those programs will stick around.

Meanwhile, Microsoft isn’t pulling back on its plans to make Windows a touch-friendly, app-driven operating system. Nor should it if the company wants to compete as the definition of a PC changes.

32 comments
ListerSoyuz
ListerSoyuz

Desktops are not on the decline it's just that Microsoft is hung up and obsessing over tablets right now. Also people are losing interest in using OS like Windows and Jellybean as they become unpopular. Pawn Shops are flooding with both tablets and PCs right now as people jump ship to Mac. So people are actually using desktops that run Mac or they install Linux or other OS. Microsoft has had so may fails and is untrustworthy with it's rotating disposition so people are just sick of it. So it's not desktops that are on their way it's it's simply that people no longer have trust in Windows because it's a bad investment at home or the office.

JamesPayne
JamesPayne

People who hate Windows 8 are people who are nested in their ways. I have been using Windows 8 since launch on a non touch screen laptop. Windows 8 is way better than Windows 7. The UI is intuitive and when customized correctly helps you get that important work done quicker. However, people now a days can't do anything for themselves. Everything has to be spoon feed to them. Most people use the desktop to pin shortcuts to all their apps and websites. You can do that in Windows 8 too by pinning to the start menu in the metro design but go back to using your desktops you neanderthals.

sproketz
sproketz

Can Android hurry up and grow the OS to also be for desktops? I'm seriously ready to get off the Microsoft train. They've completely lost their touch.

BillyHallman
BillyHallman

Windows 8 is great for toys and gadgets, however it isn't great for doing REAL work. It seems to be designed for dummies. I am getting ready to UPGRADE back to Windows 7

RobCentros
RobCentros

People who like Windows 7 -- a lot -- hate Windows 8. So, no, people haven't "trained themselves to hate anything new Microsoft tries to do." 

MKE.Dave
MKE.Dave

People hate on Windows 8 because they've trained themselves to hate anything new Microsoft tries to do. I'm a non-touchscreen laptop power user, and 8 is a fantastic OS. I do 95% of my activity entirely in the desktop, because I'm in grad school and need a handful of programs open when typing a paper. 3 clicks to shut down instead of 2 really doesn't ruin my day (Come to think of it, I wonder if there's a specific command in the OS I could make a shortcut or tile to. Hm... I'll have to poke around at home.). I look forward to the true split-screen option, as I love the 3/4 split, and there are times when I'd like to go half.

That said, I would avoid 8 in a business. Get everyone up to 7 and sit there for as long as MS lets you.

rsotol028
rsotol028

NewUI (or metro) is a excellent interface. but needs more time to polish and time to perfection it. and of course we will not see the desktop maybe in 2 or more updates. the newui is the way or the road. (are you noticed that? already?). microsoft needs to make an OS with only 64 bits version with of course 32 bit compatibility. all languages on disc too.

in june the insides, maybe in august the release. 

IntangibleGuy
IntangibleGuy

Welcome to Windows 1.0

Get one application at a time covering the whole screen. Unfortunately though even in Win 1.0 apps had a menu to select from a couple of actions. Win8 apps are more like toy apps for 8 year old. 

JB3783
JB3783

Nice to see they're improving metro... Because when I use Windows 8 I'm ALWAYS in metro...

/Sarcasm 

SactoMan81
SactoMan81

I think what may happen is that we are headed towards a desktop computer that looks like an "all-in-one" computer (e.g., Apple iMac) but with either a touchscreen or a large touchpad to run Windows  8 or its successor.

JeffDeWitt
JeffDeWitt

OK, this touch screen stuff is pretty and useful in tablets but...

My newest computer is my HTPC and it runs Windows 7, now I built this thing to watch TV, most of the time it's streaming Netflix or YouTube, and it's only display is a 46" flat panel TV.  

If they really get carried away with this touch stuff that would mean I'd need a really big touch screen and would have to get out of my chair and walk up to the TV to do anything... how very mid 20th Century! <G>

Not gonna happen of course.

But I'm not the only one doing this, and even more seriously if you are going to to do real work on a PC you really need a good old fashioned desktop.  They can come up with all the fancy tablets, laptops, convertibles and whatever they want but for bang for the buck you just can't beat a desktop.

Hard core gamers like them too, and for much the same reasons... no one is building laptops with dual quad core Xeon's like some workstations (with Windows 7) I've seen, or with over clocked six core processors with dual high end graphics cards.

Desktops aren't going away any time soon.

yellow2
yellow2

I'm really no apple fan but I have to say, since switching to one last year - I never get crashes. My comp speed always seems normal. I never have to change or re-change settings that mysteriously change themselves. It is, to put it mildly, quite refreshing

jakebraca
jakebraca

Haters gonna hate. When will people learn it's no longer hip to dig on Microsoft. Some people never give up old grudges.

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

I hate Windows 8 with a passion. It's like they TRIED to make it hard to use and ridiculous.

TejasAmin
TejasAmin

Microsoft Forgeting... When a serious work need to be done, people need solid OS as Win 7. NO FANSY 8 or BLUE... Desktop foam factor may be declining, but people are still buying laptop without touch screen... LOOK LIKE MS GONNA FORCE ME TO SWITCH TO MAC..

billcnc
billcnc

Windows 8, ... and just think, ... I didn't think Microsoft could make anything worse than Vista, ... Boy was I wrong!

What a Train Wreck!

cpmf2112
cpmf2112

The problem is that Windows 8 still uses the MetroUI like a sewer system; once in a while, you’ll fall through a feature manhole and wind up there.

FTFY.

I don't have a touch screen for my desktop and won't get one. Until Microsoft gets a BIG clue and realizes that desktop users are not going to use them like a tablet because we don't want to and IT MAKES NO SENSE TO DO SO, I won't be using any of the new M$ operating systems.

SJH0627
SJH0627

"...and an expanded Snap view that lets each app cover half the screen."

THANK YOU!!!

ListerSoyuz
ListerSoyuz

@JamesPayne I think that is a fallacy and myth that people are nested in their ways simply because most people hate Windows 8. I believe that people are brainwashed into believing that simply because Win 8 is different then somehow it's more futuristic, modern, and better. When in all reality it's simply cumbersome, illogical, and poorly designed. I don't mind software changing but Win 8 seems to have no real organization, most of it's features slow down the users experience to a rather Rube Goldburg contraption and most programs like the annoying charms bar gets in the way. Instead of quick links like we used to have we now need to add extra swipes simply because developers think it looks "cool" but in all reality this slows down progress by adding extra movements that are simply ridiculous looking. I believe people like you and those at MS are living in the childish delusion that simply because it's different and more shiny that it's better. When in all reality it's looks and acts retarded. Ever since Windows 95 MS has been slowly going down hill with one fiasco after another. Windows ME sucked, Vista sucked, Windows 7 Sucks. and both Windows 8 and 8.1 suck. It has nothing to do with the OLD people VS the YOUNG minded. It has more to do with more SCIENTIFIC and LOGICAL minded people like us VS IGNORAMUS type people who are mesmerized by flashy shiny things and scrolling like retards. ha ha Microsoft Windows is OLD NEWS and people no longer trust it's rotating disposition. In 10 Years I seriously doubt Microsoft will be a house hold name if it continues to make such childish software.

sailgeek49
sailgeek49

@BillyHallman START8 will get you back to work and it's much easier than reloading Windows 7.  Everyone I know has downloaded it onto their new PCs that came with Windows 8. 

accessofevil
accessofevil

@BillyHallman I just don't understand this.. 8 has better keyboard shortcuts, is much faster, and has awesome improvements to task manager and other core components. They just made the start menu bigger and gave it widgets and apps you don't have to use. (Like the widgets in 7 you also don't have to use)

The fastest ways of launching apps hasn't changed. Type the first few letters, it comes up in search, hit enter. Or, hit win+number of app pinned to start bar. If I were blind, I wouldn't know the difference between a 7 and 8 system just from the start menu going full screen.

If you launch apps the slow way, poking around with your mouse, that's faster too. Larger icons and targets on the bigger start menu are easier to hit.

Recovery and multi boot utilities are vastly improved too. I don't have to boot with grub anymore because MS now has an acceptable boot manager.

And it boots insanely fast. Significantly faster than 7 on the same hardware.

I triple boot with osx and Ubuntu on my dell precision laptop. But lately I've just been spending most of my time in 8.

I do have complaints. Asanine default partitioning scheme (you want swap, hibernate, logs, and user data on one partition?? Insanity.) No native posix support. And we are now pushing 10 years that MS is the only mainstream os vendor without virtual desktop support. But these have been problems for years. Win 8 is an improvement over 7 in every way.

Work I'm getting done includes python, java, and c programming, including Linux and android programming with cygwin. I write lectures and build proposals and presentations. I also play a little too much star craft. Wife does Photoshop work on her excellent 8 system that flips into a tablet for presentations for half the cost of the Mac equivelent.

I occasionally toy with embedded systems development with arduino, and even run visual studio and windows sdk to build hardware drivers for my projects.

Is anyone more of a "power user" than I am? I would love to hear if your use case is similar to mine.

I'm not interested in a flame war, I would like to hear a single person give me, in their own words, what they don't like about 8 after having actually used it.

Thank you!

sproketz
sproketz

@MKE.Dave Wrong. I have been a Microsoft user for a long time. Windows 7 is great. People hate on Windows 8 because it's poorly thought out, poorly designed and poorly conceived. It's not a brand hatred thing, it's a product hatred thing.

HarleyMeekins
HarleyMeekins

@IntangibleGuy Funny. Some trolls use "too complicated, cant figure things out, i'm a retard" excuse. Some use the "Its so extremely simple. Argghh!" way... congratulations.

spookiewriter
spookiewriter

@JeffDeWitt I believe the article said what you did in your last sentence.

I'm an avid gamer who uses Office, AutoCAD and other desktop software. The gaming side of computing is changing in a big way. Single chip CPU/GPU's are starting to poke their heads out and will soon (within 5 years) make my big 6-core CPU and 4 GPU SLI system obsolete. I hope it's sooner as I'm tired of needing a complicated cooling system with massive sound deadening. I'll be nice to play Bioshock 6 without some HAL-9000 looking box sitting there blowing warm air all over the place.

I use CAD for work. My input device is my tablet which then outputs to my 42" Monitor/TV. The desktop is still there but unseen most of the time. My tablet also does a fine job with 75% of the Office stuff. If I'm on a giant spreadsheet, once again my tablet is the input with the desktop acting in the background. I have a full size BT keyboard when I need to do lots of typing.

The desktop as it is now is changing. It seems to be heading into a mash-up of desktop, laptop and tablet/phone.It will soon be the smallish device hidden somewhere that gives the extra horsepower required when we need the big display and CPU cycles.

pattttt
pattttt

@NgheLam I opened your link then few seconds later I closed it , no you are not getting paid at least not from me.

ListerSoyuz
ListerSoyuz

@JamesPayne PS Also with no real organized links, folders, programs, files, apps, etc it's much like walking into a physical office in which all your paper work is thrown onto the floor.. It's like tryign to work in an office with NO desk, NO, filing system, NO fixtures, NO organization... but rather some idiot thought it looked COOL to throw everything all over the office floor and call it "The Start Page" in which you have to swipe unorganized folders around in order to find something (so instead of taking a few seconds to find anything you spend minutes swiping and scrolling with no organization). Oh and heaven forbid you'd walk to one side of the office or there other to open or close a window or check on something without the obnoxious Charms Bar popping up into your face, or some weird unnamed tile thing to the left with no close buttons. ha ha Even after I've fully learned and grasped how to use Windows 8 I find it even more stupid, silly, and retarded. This is nothing that anyone young or old should take seriously. Just because something is different and developers are all hung up on childish tiles and SWIPING doesn't mean it's useful, logical, nor scientific minded. Like I said it's like walking into an office with no furniture, no desk, no file system, or anything that leads to efficiency... It's like some one smoking crack walked into an empty room and threw all your folders onto the floor because they thought it looked pretty. Simply stupid. Not smart. Again this has nothing to do with people being stuck in their ways or young minded vs old minded. Both Young and Old hate Windows 8... And Microsoft is on it's way out! Period! If Microsoft was a person he or she would be placed in on the Short Bus and sent to the Slow Classes at school. ha ha

LeahPetersen
LeahPetersen

@freddygains What @JeffDeWitt said upthread. Or summarized in the most obvious annoyance: it takes four or five steps and accessing the "settings" menu to shut the damn thing off.