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Rumor: Microsoft To Yank Desktop From Windows RT, Metro All The Way

Even as the Windows 9 "Threshold" debut appears imminent, Microsoft is reportedly seriously altering Windows RT as well, by removing the Desktop environment from the OS. That would leave the Metro interface as the only means of interacting with Windows RT devices, thus effectively rendering them touch-only (or at least touch-primary) tablets.

On the one hand, this is a smart move that Microsoft should have made long ago. Having two environments in Windows 8/8.1 was confusing enough for users on PCs and notebooks, but it was awful on Windows RT tablets -- even devices that docked into dedicated keyboards such as the Dell XPS 10 (pictured). In that sense, going all-Metro is a no-brainer.

On the other hand, killing the Desktop side is a weak and futile attempt to save Windows RT. As strictly a tablet, Windows RT was a virtual rounding error in terms of market share when compared to Android and iOS. The relative unpopularity of Windows 8 among end users (which trickled down to Windows RT) combined with a woefully unpopulated app store doomed these devices, and to make matters worse, the ARM-based tablets couldn't run any legacy Windows applications.

The saving grace was that Windows RT included the Desktop environment, which came with several free Office applications. You could pair or dock a Windows RT tablet with a keyboard, and suddenly you had a budget laptop and access to Word, Excel and more. Without that functionality, what value does Windows RT bring to any consumer?

Windows RT has become an albatross for Microsoft, and we suppose Microsoft should get some credit for going down swinging. Really, Redmond doesn't have much to lose by radically changing a terrible product.

It's a bit unclear from the report, but it appears that Microsoft isn't going to roll out a drastic update that will affect current Windows RT users but will instead actually push out new devices sporting the revised Windows RT. (Whether this new version turns out to be "Windows RT 9" remains to be seen.)

Whatever Microsoft is doing with Windows RT on mobile devices, though, it begs the question of why the company isn't simply leveraging Windows Phone instead.

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