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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.

Follow Seth Colaner @SethColaner. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • therealduckofdeath
    Makes sense considering it's not compatible with desktop apps anyway.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    For ease of access and maneuverability the metro interface is meant to be handled with a touch screen and thus would be rendered useless if you used them in keyboard environment, ie as a tablet. Smart move and perhaps this would mean developers at Microsoft can allocate more effort in places where it is needed...? No?
    Reply
  • red77star
    Problem is that Metro doesn't bring anything as well in fact platform completely sucks.
    So from what i gathered Microsoft will combine Windows RT and Windows Phone under one umbrella called Windows Phone which means combined market share of <2.5% in other words a joke. I wonder what Microsoft is going to do with Surface Pro? A device itself is expensive and again it fails to be a good tablet or a good laptop?
    I have to say that Windows Phone name makes no sense because it has nothing to do with Phone. This is a great chance for Microsoft to rename Windows Phone OS to something else, also a great chance for Microsoft to gtfo Metro from Desktop Windows. Reality they won't do any of that again bottom line Windows 9 Eco System will be another flop. One of the reasons is decision by Microsoft to push Metro within Desktop, useless float Metro Apps. WTF are they thinking? Windows 8 failure wasn't just because of lack of Start Menu but whole Metro environment being on Desktop.
    Reply
  • red77star
    When i said I have to say that Windows Phone name makes no sense because it has nothing to do with Phone, i meant it has nothing to do with the concept of Windows.
    Reply
  • warezme
    Windows RT to me seemed more like a proof of concept someone decided to make commercial. I mean look, how cool would it be if we could create a Windows OS compiled to work on an ARM (phone) processor. Cool, let's do it, and we could make an apps store to build on this OS. Neat concept but they may have done to good of a job with the OS since it pretty much looked and behaved very much like Windows x86 native OS and people not understanding the difference between an X86 compiled OS and an ARM compiled OS couldn't tell the difference and wanted to run all their windows programs on the RT device. Plus it was cheaper so it was assumed to be a better deal. Wrong.
    Reply
  • southernshark
    I wonder what Microsoft is going to do with Surface Pro? A device itself is expensive and again it fails to be a good tablet or a good laptop?.

    The Surface Pro is a good laptop and decent tablet. I have no idea what your impression of it is, but it is totally off base.

    For professional people who have to move around a lot, make presentations etc... it is great. For someone who either sits in their living room all day checking face book, obviously there are better options....
    Reply
  • kickmeinthenuts
    "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."

    No, it does not. You don't know what "begging the question" means. It does not mean "to raise the question". You have the internet, please look it up.
    Reply
  • Blazer1985
    Bought a surface rt for my parents and I find it way more usable than an ipad for web browsing - office editing. Instead of relying only on apps you can easily move and open files from the desktop interface. The full size usb allows you to connect anything from a mouse to a hub or a printer and just use it. The mini display port allows you to connect a bigger screen and the touch cover is good enough for light typing. Now we all know that windows rt was a flop... But I, personally, can't see why :-D
    Unless tablets are only used for slinging birds or making them fly... In that case rt sucked having fewer games and apps.
    Reply
  • edwd2
    pathetic. you can buy a Windows 8 tablet with better specs at the same price point of the Surface2, unless the RT devices go cheaper than $150-250 chromebooks and android devices, no one is going to buy it. M$ seriously needs to redesign their ugly, poorly customizable metro UI.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    "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?"

    Excuse me, Mr. Colaner... what's your opinion on Microsoft's upcoming Office "Gemini"? What's that, you've never heard of it? :P
    Reply