Is Microsoft killing the desktop?

After lots of leaks and rumors, Windows 8.1 is finally being revealed by Microsoft. It features lots of tweaks and improvements, including the return of the Start button. However these improvements are primarily to Metro and to touch interaction, leaving desktop users even further back in Windows 8’s wake. Extremetech reports,

…if you’re primarily a Desktop user, don’t get too excited: The primary focus of Windows 8.1 is improving the Metro experience. If you are a mouse-and-keyboard user who has made the transition to the Metro interface, or you use Windows 8.1 on a tablet, you will like Windows 8.1 — otherwise, you will probably be quite disappointed. The official blog post detailing Windows 8.1 is almost 2,000 words long, but just two sentences pertain to the Desktop experience.

All this is making me wonder…is MS purposefully neglecting the desktop? There has been a precipitous fall in desktop sales since Windows 8’s arrival, and it’s been unclear as to whether this has been due to lack of interest as tablet sales grow or dissatisfaction with the new OS, causing potential buyers to take a “wait-and-see” approach. I’m puzzled by this strategy as Windows basically made the desktop what it is today, and millions of users still use those desktops as their primary machine even if they have a tablet.

One thing that could ease the transition for desktop users would be a decrease in the cost of touchscreen displays. They still aren’t cost prohibitive at this point, but it’s a fairly major upgrade for folks who probably already have a perfectly fine LCD display that is hundreds of dollars cheaper than a comparable size touchscreen.

Desktop users can use third-party apps to improve their experience, including a more “normal” Start menu in the meantime. Considering how much anticipation there was for 8.1, and Microsoft’s response to its consumers – ambivalence – I don’t think desktop users have much to hope for in 8.2.

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Posted on June 6, 2013, in Microsoft Windows and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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