Mixing tablet and desktop

What went wrong

We had desktops for a long time and now we have tablets.  They are two different words, each with its own specifics and reasons to exist. It was inevitable that at some point they have to merge to become one. The only one that can make this possible is ‘Microsoft’ for a simple reason: they own the desktop. It took them a while to make a tablet but finally they achieved that as well. It was up to them to merge those two words in one. The result is a Windows 8 laptop. How well they did it?

At first, it looked very confusing. It took a while finding where things were, how the actions were to be performed.  Then, you get used to it. It becomes just another tool to use in your job.

After a while, you start to see things what they really are. You get to know that some elements have been done right and others should have been done differently. The main thing that stands out is that Microsoft seem to be ‘ashamed’ of having to deal with the desktop and it products. The desktop implies that it’s being old and out-of-date. They tried to hide it, to make everything look like tablet apps. Here is a typical example:

You are using the desktop. Now you have to open ‘Word’ to type a letter. There is no Word on the desktop, so you have to close the desktop, go to tablet mode and locate the Word there. It is called an app and put there among other apps. So, you click on the Word icon. What happen then? The desktop shows again and the Word opens inside the desktop. What else can we expect? It is a desktop product after all!

You can see right away that something is wrong there. The Word is not an app! This is obvious. It doesn’t look like an app, doesn’t work like an app and opens on desktop. Why are they pretending that it is an app? The word should simply be part of the desktop until they redo it and make a version of the Word that really is an app. Then putting in on the tablet would make sense.

If the Word is on desktop, how are we going to find it, to navigate to it? We can now add the Word icon to desktop toolbar, but it is not the only desktop product that we need to access. We can’t put them all there. 

This now leads to the famous question of not having the Start button. I think that this question was formulated wrongly. The problem is much deeper. The desktop products are moved out of the desktop and made to pretend to be tablet apps. This is the real problem. If they were on the desktop where they belong, then we would need some way to navigate to the products and the Start button would be there.

The Word is not the only problem. All other desktop products are displaced as well. Look at the ‘File Manager’ for an example. This is a typical desktop tool. Do we need ability to look at files while working in tablet mode? Yes, we do. So, there is a need for a new File Manager that would work as a tablet app. There is no doubt about it. Will this be able to replace the existing one? Not really. This would mean going from the desktop to tablet every time we need to find a file. We need both of them, all until all desktop products are redone like apps and until the desktop completely ceases to exist.

We know that this is far off and that we still have to use the current desktop for quite a long time. I don’t see any problem with it as we are used to it, we know what to do. There is no reason making it more difficult for us. Especially if there is no real justification for that. Making the desktop applications pretend to be apps didn’t bring anything to the image of the new tablet world. Instead, it damaged the old good desktop word and made our lives more difficult. I hope that Microsoft is listening. 

Slava Krnjetin Slava Krnjetin - I have graduated Mathematics and then turned to IT and never looked back. I have now over 25 years of experience in IT industry doing consulting and development. It has always been my passion to follow the new IT trends and tools as they evolved over years.

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