Windows 8 – The beginning of desktops demise?


I’ve been reading a lot of hype concerning Microsoft’s evolving new operating system and I must say I am not liking what I am hearing. Of course, there is no way of knowing if the reports are indeed 100% accurate, but there is enough coincidental information to make some early assumptions:

  • Windows 8 will be very much a hybrid operating system with the traditional desktop environment relegated to a secondary position and the primary interface resembling that of mobile devices – such as the iPad.
  • The emphasis will accordingly shift away from traditional desktop programs in favor of lightweight web style apps.
  • With a more touch screen orientated interface across the board, touch screen technology will play a much bigger role.

I’m not sure Microsoft have got that first one the right way round, I’d  much prefer if the desktop remained primary and the Metro (phone style) interface were made secondary; after all, it is supposed to be a desktop operating system isn’t it! I suppose that’s a pretty selfish attitude but, from my point of view, there are already more than enough devices running mobile style interfaces to satisfy demand and I like my desktop the way it is. Some are saying it’s ‘the best of both worlds’ but I don’t see it that way. Mobile Operating Systems are designed specifically for hand held devices and, in my opinion, that’s exactly where they belong… not on desktops!!

One can understand why Microsoft would be adopting this approach though, their primary consideration always has been and always will be all about profits and they are obviously feeling threatened by the burgeoning popularity of mobile devices in general, and Apple in particular. Plus, failure to take advantage of the younger generation’s predilection for mobile computing could be viewed as financial folly.

Microsoft is also insisting that touch screen technology is an absolute must, and while that may well be true for mobile devices, how is that going to enhance my desktop experience? It’s fine for hand held devices with a relatively small viewing area but with my 24” monitor sitting almost 2 feet from where I work??


Yes, one can still choose to utilize the good old keyboard and mouse but am I then paying for something which I am never going to use and never even wanted in the first place? Plus is Microsoft going to subsidize the purchase of my new touch screen enabled monitor? I don’t think so!!

And that my friends is my biggest gripe – the cost. Windows 8 is reportedly scheduled for official release some time in 2012, barely 3 years after Windows 7 hit the shelves. It feels like I only just forked out for Windows 7 and now the new operating system is just around the corner. And new versions of Windows have not tended to get cheaper each time! I am all for progress but I sincerely hope Microsoft is not going to continue with its recent release policy:

  • Windows Vista – January 2007
  • Windows 7 – October 2009
  • Windows 8 – Some time in 2012
  • Windows 9 – ????

Microsoft representatives have been quick to refute that Windows 8 is the initial step in a strategy which will see their traditional desktop operating system phased out to extinction; “There is no new conspiracy here”, said Steven Sinofsky.

Well, I’m not so sure!!


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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

13 Comments

  1. Have two main comments. Does anyone remember that it was XP that caused much of a hardware upgrade when it debuted. As for touch screen technology, this is not new. Trying to stay on topic, is 3D TV just a fad too? 2012 might be just around the corner, but XP, Vista, and SEVEN, still have a following, so EIGHT better be more than smoke and mirrors. “As money talks, it also walks”, Mindblower!

  2. My companion and I have XP installs. We know that the bell will toll, however, our computers are not capable of running even Windows 7.
    Being that we are are living on tight budgets, there is no room in our budgets, there will not be any money for new computers, desktop and/or hand held.
    Will be sticking it out with XP until support is completely gone.
    Might take a look at Linux. However, I am in my 70’s and learning a complete new system will certainly task my mind.
    Y’all take Care twospirit

  3. I would be quite hesitant to move from Windows 7 to an operating system designed primarily for tablets and phones with the desktop and laptop hanging on. Since I do not anticipated ever purchasing a smart phone or tablet, why would I want to bog down my computer with tons of software I’ll never use. I think I’ll stick with Windows 7 unless there is a significant positive consensus to upgrade.

  4. Granted, I’m five years past retirement. Still, my question about whether Win 8 will be designed principally for mobiles is, doesn’t anybody do WORK any more? Actual WORK–spreadsheets, documents, forms, designs–is really hard to do on a screen measuring only a couple of inches wide. Where will the work apps go?

  5. Hi Nebbel – The desktop environment will still be accessible, work apps and all.

    The main concern is that in attempting to combine the two, Microsoft way well have seriously detracted from Windows original and primary objective, that is; to provide an optimal desktop environment.

  6. I am In the same age range as Nebbel. Personally I wouldn’t use a touch screen device, the thought or all those fingerprints in jam, coffee and nasal solids plastered all over something costing in excess of £200 would put me off. Not to mention that most of these things have minuscule screens which most folks of my age would need a magnifying glass to be able to read.

    Microsoft are just floating ideas and gauging our reactions, they are trying to be all things to all people and their ivory castle could fall as a result.

    PS @ Dri-Anna Have a look at Ubuntu, works a treat but sorting the flash players out is still a pain

  7. You seem to have overlooked the same obvious point that every other commentator on the internet has also missed. You say your monitor is two feet away from where you sit. That’s irrelevant – it might as well be two kilometres away unless it is already a touchscreen. Which I very much doubt it is. The full cost is not merely that for another ugly looking upgrade from Microsoft (anybody still remember the awful MS DOS 4 interface?), but you still have to factor in the instant wallet-emptying cost of a touch screen desktop monitor.

  8. No Moselakatse,YOU seem to have overlooked the obvious point – regardless of whether the monitor is a touchscreen or not, it will still be about two feet away!

    You must have also missed this: “Plus is Microsoft going to subsidize the purchase of my new touch screen enabled monitor? I don’t think so!! And that my friends is my biggest gripe – the cost”

  9. A real annoyance has always been fingerprints on the screen when doing any sort of photo or graphics editing. As a old DOSasaurus, I really don’t care for the “Playskool” look of many mobile screens either. New is not necessarily better.

  10. A few months ago I walked into a Sam’s Club and noticed a product display placed directly in front of the entrance for a popular brand all in one desktop. I was there to buy in bulk, however I could not resist the temptation to play for a minute. The screen was huge and of course a touchscreen. The familiar mouse and keyboard was there as well but I couldn’t help but think why would I want a touchscreen on my PC? I too believe in the PC as a tool, although I rarely use a spreadsheet, when I do I am much more comfortable with my familiar human interface devices. I do play with Gimp and other graphic utilities allot more than OO Calc, and I wouldn’t want to spend the time with a learning curve on a new HID to work my familiar programs with, let alone change over to an app to do the same job. Besides, my little microfiber cloth would wear thin in a week constantly removing the smudges!

    Technology is moving in an increasing pace, but I also think the end user’s desire to “work” on their “jobs”, what ever that might be for each of us, will maintain the compelling force the support for the operating systems that “work for us” need.

    The Windows GUI gave us a better option to the command line some time ago. With that said, today’s major user base will provide sufficient demand for the future of the tools we find most useful.

    Question: When WIN8 comes out will it have separate Win7 and XP modes? XP mode occupies 1.3G+ on my Win7 box!

    If it works, why fix it?

  11. Hey Mike – If Win8 is going to include a ‘Win7’ mode then that would be a worry indeed. Could this mean that, contrary to MS’s advice, there will be breaking changes in terms of compatibility and legacy app support introduced into Windows 8?…I seriously doubt it.

    XP mode is an entirely different matter, but I doubt MS will include that either. Besides the fact that support for XP is due to expire in 2014; they (MS) are planning on including the Hyper-V tool in all versions of Windows 8 – previously only available in server editions. Hyper-V will allow users to run multiple operating systems and environments (including Linux) on the same machine – so XP mode would become pretty much redundant.

    Mind you; Hyper-V will only run on newer machines with CPU’s which support SLAT – Intel ‘i’ series (i3, i5 and i7) and AMD Barcelona. Also requires 64-bit Windows and minimum 4GB RAM – there’s always a catch!!

    Cheers…Jim

  12. Hi Jim …
    I can’t tell you how happy I am to find that people like you (super-experts!) are not thrilled to see another Microsoft monster about to be thrust upon us. I’ve always been very slow to adopt a new OS, since they always have so many bugs, and, as already mentioned, the cost! (I’m still mad about Windows 95 being such a mess, and then making you buy a whole new system to fix it!)
    We are in our 80s and have 3 computers: my husband’s desktop runs XP, my desktop runs Vista, and my netbook, Windows 7 Starter. We’re doing fine. Leave us alone already!