No Desktop for compact Windows 10 devices

January 27, 2015 | 11:30

Tags: #desktop #joe-belfiore #metro-ui #modern-ui #phablet #phone #portable #smartphone #tablet #user-interface #windows-10 #windows-threshold

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has announced that, despite its killing-off of the ARM-compatible Windows 8 spin-off Windows RT, Windows 10 will still be a divided experience between devices, with smaller portables being prevented from accessing the classic Desktop interface and even installing legacy software.

Windows 8 launched as Microsoft's first serious attempt to unify its Windows Phone and mainstream Windows operating system user experiences. It borrowed the tile-based user interface, first known as Metro UI and then renamed to Modern UI, from its mobile equivalent while maintaining access to a more traditional user interface under the name Desktop. The experience was divisive in more ways than one, with many users complaining that the tile-based user interface and gesture-based control system was ill-suited to keyboard and mouse use - making third-party packages to install a Windows 7 style Start Menu into the Desktop mode a popular add-on.

Windows 10 looks to resolve this by adding a new Start Menu designed to combine the tile-based Modern UI directly into the Desktop experience. The full-screen Start Screen, meanwhile, will still be available for those who choose to use it - but Microsoft's Joe Belfiore has announced that some will be forced in that direction by dint of their display size.

Taking to Twitter to clarify media queries, Belfiore explained that any device with an integrated display of 8" or larger diagonal size will be treated as a 'desktop' device with access to the Desktop user interface and full support for all legacy Win32 applications. Anything smaller than 8", however, will be locked away from the desktop user interface - bringing the restrictions of Windows RT to Windows 10, despite the hardware supporting legacy applications just fine.

Thankfully for those who have invested in Windows 8 devices featuring smaller screens and who have already filled them with legacy applications for use in Desktop mode, there's an exception to Microsoft's new rule: existing devices, such as the popular Linx 7 tablet, will retain Desktop capabilities if upgraded to Windows 10. 'We'll upgrade and keep the experience consistent with what [you] have,' Belfiore explained.

The news comes as Microsoft's Q2 financial report showed a 24 per cent growth in its Surface revenue, breaking the $1 billion barrier and easily eclipsing the meagre profit it eked out last quarter. Poor sales of Windows, likely as buyers choose to wait for the release of Windows 10, and slowing Xbox profits, however, have seen the company's share price dip nearly five per cent in pre-market trading following the announcement.
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