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Windows Rt: Should The Desktop Exist?


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I have seen a lot of critical reaction to the Desktop existing on the Surface RT. The more negative reviewers claim it creates a schizophrenic device that doesn't know its purpose. The more tame (and hopefully common) view is that it's a necessary evil until Microsoft makes "Modern" office apps. I shared this view, initially--mostly while waiting for my Surface RT to arrive in the mail.


Now that I've had it for some time, my view has changed. I am glad the Desktop mode is there. Don't get me wrong, the Modern UI is great and can stand on its own. I spend almost all of my time there and would be a happy Surface owner if that's all there was. More often than not, my Surface is just a tablet--no touch cover, just a great touch optimized device that is better than anything else I've ever owned in every way. But deep down, I know that there is that desktop tile on my start screen... it's not schizo mode, it's power mode.


There are two reasons I love that it's there.


First and foremost, I can live in a simple and wonderful touch interface but I'm a single click away from one of the oldest and most mature file managers in existence. Instantly, I leave an elegant (dumbed down phone-like) interface and have every bit of file-managing power I have on my desktop. And let's be honest, that ribbon interface? The touch points are smaller than in metro apps, but they work and work well for all but the fattest of fingers. I hated ribbon, couldn't comprehend how someone came up with that crap... until I had my Surface. Those years ago when Ribbon took over office (and now explorer), I think this is what they were planning... and I get it. I've used almost every mobile platform out there and a few other tablets and "file managers" are a big deal. If you're on android, there are dozens. If you're on a platform where there aren't any, you'll find users whining left and right in their respective forums. On the RT? You have the mother of file management out of the box. It's not schizophrenia, it's God Mode.


The second reason I appreciate Desktop mode and would be rather upset to see it go is the are those rare but important moments when I decide to do some serious work on my RT. I work mostly on a desktop, but when I travel (or just need to get out of the office), The RT is far more portable than my laptop but when I need to get work done, I can plug in a USB hub with a full mouse, full keyboard, launch office and work like I'm on a full PC. I don't wholly disagree with the sentiment that the Desktop exists to accommodate office, what I disagree with is that office should exist ONLY in the RT UI. I'd love to see "Modern" apps for the office programs to use when I'm using the device as a tablet, but I like knowing that under the hood my most-of-the-time-toy can be a work horse.


These are my sentiments... I apologize for being so wordy, but I'm in desktop mode with a full keyboard. I want to discuss this with other real users--not reviewers with 15 minutes experience. Not (perhaps the vocal majority) non-users who HATE desktop despite having never experienced Windows 8 beyond Chris Pirillos "review". After spending some time with your Surface, do you think the experience would be better or worse if it was pure "modern"?

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I pretty much agree with you. The way I see it you have got to be a moron to think it is jarring or you cant function between the two. For those people I suggest an iPad.

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I'm using a Surface Pro, but I think my feeling applies equally to the RT and Pro: that is, I want Desktop Mode for browsing.


I do not really like the 'Metro' IE. I'm a BIG tab user. I find the way the Metro version of IE handles tabs to be time-consuming and frustrating. In Desktop IE I can see my tabs all the time and very quickly jump from 1 to the other - I don't have to swipe down all the time to get the other IE windows to show. That gets really old, really quickly.

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I rarely use desktop mode anymore, but it doesn't bother me that it's there.  When I was running the win 8 preview, I would always use the desktop mode version of IE, but I slowly started using the metro version of it.  It was hard, at first, since I am a big tab user, too, but I've gotten used to it.


Having said that, I'm looking forward to an update of IE that maybe improves upon the 'tabs' of the metro version.

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I agree it is GOD MODE. You have the best file manager, download manager, tweak manager and productivity mode for multitab browsing, optimized for mouse and keyboard use.


Why wouldn't you include desktop mode when you see the all the money spent on keyboard/case accessories for IPAD and Android tablets, which I think is ridiculous. Lug around a wireless keyboard for a Mail app!!, oh and maybe some bootleg office app. And then by a printing app, file manager, and wifi file transfer app just to migrate and print your docs.


For some the touch interface is fine but it is great when I can just clip on a keyboard, plug in a USB and edit doc in office and not chase down my laptop for some features and my Android/IPAD for others.


For example I tried creating a simple meal choice card with 3 lines of text on my Transformer Infinity with keyboard dock. I spend hours trying to line up 3 lines of text in 4 boxes to print and it still did not work. Had to get my laptop with word and it took 2 minutes.

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I completely disagree with everybody so far.


Desktop in RT and 8 is only there for the transition.


At launch there are more legacy apps than Windows Store apps. Once the Windows Store catalog increases, desktop will be removed and maybe they will sandbox non updated legacy apps!


As for RT desktop is there for Office, as soon as Office is updated to the Modern UI feel, desktop will be removed from there.


Eventually, RT and 8 will become one with the exception of 8 being able to sandbox legacy apps. THERE WILL BE NO MORE DESKTOP only Start screen!


That's the plan, and that's why RT is the future.

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I think you've completely misinterpreted what everyone is saying. I don't think anyone is saying Desktop is there forever. The question was, "Should the Desktop exist?". For now, the answer is "yes". Eventually, of course, that will not be true.

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As it was with DOS, you can't just get rid of it.  Transition yes, but also necessary.  You can't remove it in one fatal swoop and expect things to continue on.  This is something that you will probably see move further into the background as did DOS behind windows.  Eventully it will come a day when we can transition off.  In the mean time you get all the great things that you had with the desktop instead of just letting it all disapear or non-mature solutions replacing it.  You have to have a transition otherwise you have no way to adopt something new such as the new UI for apps.  Again, being a Microsoft employee I say this not as this is our strategy, but as a simple observer of what is required for change.

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