Is the Desktop Dying Out?

Mike Halsey MVP
Sep 14, 2011
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Apple, Companies

When Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 yesterday they said what most people were expecting them to, that a new tablet-friendly interface would be the default way to interact with the new version of the OS.  This new Metro UI would load when you start Windows and that Microsoft expected most people to interact with Windows 8 by using it.

If you couple this with the recent launch of Apple's OS X Lion desktop operating system, which includes an iPad-style application launcher and full screen apps, much in the way both the iPad and Windows 8 have it's reasonable to now ask the question, is the desktop operating system dying out?

Clearly there is a push by the two main operating system companies towards mobile computing in a big way.  The focus is on tablets and other touch devices.  In itself this isn't such a bad thing as keyboards and mice had their death predicted many years ago, but the fact remains they are still the most effective way to get things done on a computer.  So what does Microsoft's move mean for the desktop and is the traditional computer now a dying breed?

Clearly then there's still going to be a need for a desktop operating environment for many years to come.  That is unless Microsoft, Apple and Google find new ways to build more intuitive and functional interfaces, containing more commands, into tablet-focused apps.

In itself this wouldn't be a bad thing, as innovation in the world of software interfaces has been needed for nearly twenty years now.  For too long we've been stuck with a way of doing things that Xerox created in a lab in the 1970's, it's way past time things changed.

So is Windows 8's Metro interface the way forward.  Probably not as it stands right now in fairness, but it will help to act as an catalyst, and so will Apple's iOS operating system and Google's stripped-down Chrome OS.  All three are pushing the boundaries of modern interface design and now its up to the software houses to come up with new interface designs that take advantage of these new UIs.  For now it's just been Apple and Microsoft doing the innovating, with the major software houses including Adobe, content to carry on with the way they've been doing things for years.

The ribbon that Microsoft introduced with Office 2007, and that can now be found throughout Windows 8 when you drop down to the traditional desktop, is a good stab at creating an interface that's both mouse and finger-friendly.  Whether this was by design or purely by chance we may never know, but it's clear to see how the ribbon would translate to a Metro interface if scaled up a bit.  It would still be recognisable as the ribbon, woulds still work in the same way, and would offer a way forward for software developers to move to a new UI paradigm.

How all of this will sit with the world's accountants, engineers, publishers, videographers and administrators remains to be seen, they probably won't like it.  The simple fact remains though that we've had the WIMP (Windows, Mice and Pull-down Menus) UIs for thirty years now and the time has come to move on, whether we might like to do so or not.

Is the Desktop Dying Out?
Article Name
Is the Desktop Dying Out?
Recent development in computing make it reasonable to now ask the question, is the desktop operating system dying out?

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

    1. E. Fromme said on September 29, 2023 at 1:32 pm

      EMRE ÇITAK posts are useless because they are fraught with inaccuracies and are irrelevant.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong..

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: []. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

    1. Howard Allan Pearce Jones said on October 1, 2023 at 4:28 am

      Rreedom of Association is one of our most important rights. Some people think it’s Freedom, but no, I say Rreedom is far more important. There are many STATE-MANDATED associations that save jobs, that’s right MANDATED. I can’t name any of them, but rest assured they are bad, because saving jobs are bad, and people having jobs leads to dictatorship!!! Anyone who disagrees is too radical for Ghacks maybe, because I’m not sure.

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, has changed in quality.
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin:,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

  9. sean conner said on September 27, 2023 at 6:21 am
  10. Sherry Grant said on September 29, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    What does this article about Musk/Tesla have to do with computing, devices, phones?
    More irelevant filler.

  11. Anonymous said on September 29, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    yeah sure… they are always the victims and it is only against them ????

    Believe them 100% and never question anything. This lawsuit sounds like the type you heard when people were eating batteries.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.