The fate of the tried and tested Windows desktop has remained in the balance ever since the release of Windows 8 with its Metro (or Modern) centered user interface.

They have been few and far between, but some recent reports have suggested that Microsoft may kill off the desktop completely in one of the upcoming versions of Windows — particularly as the software titan intends to increase its focus on the Metro UI.

But while we do know that the company is adding new features to Metro, Microsoft is quite likely to stick with the desktop in the next (few) versions of Windows. It is, after all, the most familiar working environment for millions of users the world over.

Nothing official from Microsoft in this regard, but a high-ranking company executive explains that Windows 8.1 is very likely to keep the desktop, contrary to recent reports.

Talking to TechRadar, Ian Moulster, the Windows Product Manager shed some light on things:

“To be honest I don’t have an answer because I don’t know. I’m loathe [sic] to speculate. It seems highly unlikely to me. I haven’t seen anything either way. I’d be surprised, but that’s my personal view.

I think it’s a continuation of us always building on what’s there. Windows 8 is built on Windows 7 and starts from where Windows 7 stops, and I don’t think there will be a change to that approach. We’d be crazy to throw anything away.”

The executive stopped shy of providing any further details on the upcoming update. And while it may just be his personal opinion, fact remains that Microsoft would be crazy to throw anything away, as he said — particularly as vitally important a thing as the desktop.

Maybe on Windows RT in the near future, but desktop versions of the OS are in the clear.

That said, the upcoming Windows 8.1 upgrade is said to feature a number of enhancements, not just to the Metro experience, but also the traditional desktop environment. It will be interesting to see everything that makes the cut in the final release.

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  1. As I’ve spoken about in Winbeta’s comments, The desktop should only be dropped in Windows RT. We all know that people would shit bricks and flip tables if the desktop went away in regular Windows 8.

  2. The idea of the desktop disappearing from Windows 8.1 is utterly preposterous.

    With RT 8.1 however it is an idea whose time has come. In fact it came at 8.0 but was held back by the not inconsiderable effort of converting all the built-in desktop apps. The big question concerns Office. That will be the hardest thing to convert. So if RT 8.1 still has the desktop, it will purely be for Office, and can be pulled as soon as that is fully Modern UI.

    Pulling the desktop from RT 8.1 (or later) will simplify the use of an RT device. It might reduce the size of the OS overall, freeing storage space.

    As regards RT on 7 or 8 inch tablets, especially an Xbox-type tablet, there would be little point in keeping the price of the OS jacked up by the inclusion of Office.

    However Office has always been a feature of Windows Phone, albeit it in a simpler form. One can imagine that an Xbox tablet could be released with the Phone versions of the Office apps, but the complication there is bringing together RT and Phone.

    It would be a whole lot simpler if the Office apps were available via the Windows Store for all devices, so that they cease to be an issue with regard to OS releases. I suspect that is the plan, and Office 365 will be one part of it.

    Once the desktop has gone from RT, it becomes much closer to Phone. As with iPod-vs-iPad, one might then expect that apps will have the option of running on both RT and Phone, or having specific variants for one or both.

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