Windows 8 is certainly a different beast than previous version of Windows. The newest OS version plans to add new features like Metro and ARM support, but the changes also make Windows 8 probably the most confusing version of Windows yet.

With Windows 8 you have two different architectures (x86 and ARM) and two different platforms (PC and tablet). So what this seems to mean is that you have the following options with Windows 8:

Windows 8 on ARM: This version uses METRO and also has its own desktop mode. This version has its own ‘desktop mode’ BUT it doesn’t work with x86 legacy applications and likely doesn’t support older drivers. This means the only apps you have in this version is Windows 8 are new METRO apps and totally re-written desktop apps.

Windows 8 on x86: Here you have METRO and desktop mode again, this time you have full use of legacy X86 drivers and applications. Keep in mind that if you have a tablet with this version it doesn’t mean that desktop apps will be optimized for touchscreen, though.

So this means two different desktop versions, although it seems that the nature of METRO apps should mean that any Metro app will work with either version.

This means that for desktop modes developers can choose whether to focus their desktop application on x86 or ARM, or have it run both (which means more work for the developer).

If this seems pretty confusing, it has only gotten a little worse. Now it seems that sources like Paul Thurrott are reporting that ARM tablets WILL NOT have desktop mode. The first versions of developer tablets did have such support, but supposedly Microsoft is considering removing it.

This means that ARM tablets would only run METRO apps and would be more like Android/iPad in capabilities. As far as ARM desktops/laptops are concerned we are still unsure. The information received only specifically mentioned ARM tablets.

If ARM laptops/desktops allow a desktop mode, this means even more confusion. Buying an ARM tablet would be a different experience from an ARM laptop/desktop thanks to the apps present.

So far Microsoft has yet to confirm or deny whether or not ARM tablets will have a desktop mode. My only concern overall with Windows 8 is that it will create consumer confusion for the average user. PCs can already seem confusing with different processors, multiple cores, different video cards, and other settings.

Now figuring out whether you have an ARM or x86 and whether or not an application is designed for x86 or ARM will make the process of choosing a machine and the software that runs it even more difficult.

It seems that trying to be everything at once (ARM and x86, tablet and PC) is creating new problems for Microsoft. How can they solve the problem and keep it from becoming an issue? I suppose proper marketing when Windows 8 comes to the stores will help.

Right now it is understandable that people aren’t desiring tablets running Windows 8, because they really don’t understand what they are and what they will bring.

Will the problems ahead for Microsoft make the market too confusing for users? Do you think that tablets running ARM should have a desktop mode? Share your thoughts about the situation below.

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  • Weller Fan

    I haven’t a CLUE what that man meant. I am VERY confused…
    All I can see is that Microsoft want a OS that 
    can operate on tablet and desktop PC mode
    by simply switching between the two, depending
    on what you are using. PC or Tablet. 
    Somehow though… It does not sound so easy going
    by what I have read so far…

    • DCJason

      I have to agree. This is one of the worst explanations I’ve read. I understand both environments for both device types, and even *I* was getting confused reading this! I’m a IT trainer by profession and this is a good example of how to confuse your audience.