Industry thinktank Gartner believes that following the introduction of Windows RT this fall, Microsoft will deemphasize the traditional Windows desktop in favor of Windows RT in a way similar to the shift away from MS-DOS.
The report, entitled Windows 8 Changes Windows as We Know It, projects that while Microsoft isn’t going to force anyone away from developing or using Win32 applications “the Windows Desktop will become less strategic over time.”
“Windows 8 is the start of Microsoft’s effort to respond to market demands and competitors, as it provides a common interface and programming API set from phones to servers. It is also the beginning of the end of Win32 applications on the desktop,” said Michael Silver, vice president and analyst at Gartner, who authored a report on the subject. “Microsoft will continue to support Win32, but it will encourage developers to write more manageable and engaging applications using WinRT.”
According to the report, the majority of enterprise users that adopt Windows 8 through 2015 will likely do most of their computing in a traditional Win32 desktop environment. However, come 2020, users will spend less than 10% of their time on this traditional platform instead favoring OS-agnostic applications in Metro UI on the WinRT runtime.
“Gartner expects Microsoft to include the Windows Desktop in future releases, but improvements will be relatively minor,” the report read.
“Windows 8 is more than a major upgrade to Windows – it’s a technology shift,” wrote Steve Kleynhans, Gartner’s vice president for client and mobile computing. “We don’t see technology shifts too often; the only other one Microsoft’s client OS has gone through was the move from DOS technology to Windows NT technology, which began in 1993 and took eight years, ending with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001.”
“Smartphones and tablets are fulfilling the role of the primary device for an increasing group of users, and most of these devices are from vendors other than Microsoft,” Mr. Kleynhans continued.
“In this environment, Microsoft needs to move to a platform that enables a new type of application, and embraces new types of user experiences.”