Twitter updates its Windows Phone 8 app with arty photo filters, Vine playback and Lens app support


Twitter updated its Windows Phone 8 app today with a number of new features aimed squarely at photographers, including artistic filters, Lens app integration and the ability to play Vine clips directly within tweets.

The social network added basic editing and vintage filters to its Android and iOS apps back in December 2012, combating Instagram’s ballooning userbase and the revamped Flickr iOS app that Yahoo released shortly afterwards.

These photo filters, supplied by Aviary’s photo-editing SDK, have been strangely absent from the Windows Phone 8 app over the last six months or so. The update today offers an improved tweet composition experience, which includes the aforementioned support for photo filters.

twitter wp8 Twitter updates its Windows Phone 8 app with arty photo filters, Vine playback and Lens app support

“Just tap the camera icon to capture an image from your phone’s viewfinder, or pull in a shot from your Camera Roll,” a post on the Windows Phone blog reads.

The app now has the same eight filters offered in the iOS and Android apps: Vignette, Warm, Cool, 1963, 1972, Golden Hour, Antique and Black & White, which the user can apply individually. There’s no support for adding multiple filters, however.

Clips uploaded through Vine, the popular six second video-sharing app owned by Twitter, will now also appear directly within tweets, saving users the hassle of tapping through to the dedicated webpage created for each upload. There’s still no Vine app for Windows Phone 8 users, although itrecently launched on Android to considerable fanfare.

Windows Phone 8 device owners can also save tweeted photos to their handset, as well as share images to Twitter through the default Windows Phone camera. Elsewhere, Twitter has also added the ability to refresh lists on-demand, as well as a whole host of bug fixes and minor app improvements.

The updated Twitter app is available now in the Windows Phone store.

Windows 8 six months in: Thoughts from a power(less) user

It’s been half a year now since Windows 8 officially hit. For those first three months, I coveted it from afar. I was in Ecuador checking out plans to build a Latin American Silicon Valley, and I felt squeamish about upgrading without access to all the backups, support, and even the reliable postal service we take for granted in North America, should something go wrong.

That turned out to be a smart decision.

Upon my return, I kept one of my New Year’s resolutions and dove headfirst into what I hoped would be a quantum leap forward in productivity and general operating system awesomeness. I upgraded my Windows 7 Dell laptop and shortly thereafter ordered a Surface Pro.

It turned out to be quite handy having the Surface Pro after the Windows 8 update crippled some key functions of my Dell laptop. Interestingly, numerous Google products barely function on my Dell machine running Windows 8. To be fair, some Dell drivers, and Google’s insistence on building Flash into Chrome and other products like Google+ Hangouts, seem to be at the root of the problem, but the problems still speak to the strained relationships between Microsoft and its OEMs and competitors and the stunning overall lack of support for Windows 8, especially when compared with past Windows launches. More on that further down.

That was my somewhat painful introduction to Windows 8. Three months later, and even after getting started with my Surface Pro, I’m still too stubborn to roll back my Dell machine to Windows 7, even though some problems still persist. I’ll explain why in my six reflections on the first six months since Windows 8 officially dropped.

See, the thing is that:

1. I love the concept of Windows 8. Many months ago I wrote about how I’d love to be able to make my Nexus 7 my primary device. I know plenty of you feel the same way about your iPads as well. Of course, Android tablets and the iPad don’t quite have the same level of flexibility and productivity power that Windows addicts like me have become accustomed to.

Windows 8 touch systems, in particular the Surface Pro seem, on the er… surface, to bridge the gap between our increasingly mobile, touch-screen-centered existence and the persistent need to maintain the levels of productivity we’ve come to expect from legacy Windows (or OSX or Linux) systems.

Android and iOS have come to be really good at what they do well, even exceeding the capability of Windows for certain things like sharing and app interoperability. So for the first hour of using my Surface Pro I was psyched. It seemed that everything I loved about Android (the place where I live for most things to do with my social, day-to-day, on-the-go life) and Windows (where I get work done) had been baked into this slick little slate. Unfortunately, I quickly came to another realization:

2. Windows is a continent, not an ecosystem. I mean, of course there is such a thing as a Windows ecosystem, but over the decades it has grown to such an extent that it barely resembles the picturesque walled garden of a place like iOS where all things interact in a sort of harmony. It’s more like a huge continent that various platforms are trying to colonize.

Every time I boot up my Surface Pro, it’s like watching this ongoing battle of colonial powers all fighting for my attention. Will I choose to support an expedition that begins via the lush lands of the new Windows 8 Start screen? Or will I play it safe and devote my time to the established and more secure stronghold of the legacy desktop? Perhaps I’ll go totally gonzo and explore via the app-rich lands of Bluestacks? Maybe stay close to the ship and do as much as I can on the Web via Chrome? Ah, but which mode of Chrome do I need — desktop mode or Win8? Internet Explorer seems to take well to this strange new environment for once.

The result is a kind of crippling chaos that most often forces me to retreat into the familiar security of a browser window or the legacy desktop for most tasks. But speaking of explorers…

3. Where are the devs? So the common wisdom is that iOS is where the money is for app developers; I get that. But principles of supply and demand should still be in effect in this universe. Fact is that while demand for Windows 8 has been soft, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon, given the enormous market share that legacy Windows versions enjoy.

The undersupply of Windows 8 apps is simply staggering. Sure, designing Windows Phone apps didn’t become the cash cow Microsoft might have hoped, but Redmond is clearly all in on competing with the Google Play and iTunes stores.

Maybe I should stop beating around the bush and just come right out and beg developers to start coding for Windows 8, and Microsoft to give them the tools and incentives to make it worth their while. Please help us, folks. It’s a virtual desert in the Microsoft store.

Speaking of the seeming lack of brain power on the Windows 8 development side of things:

4. Where did everything go? Yes, I couldn’t forget all the complaints we’ve already heard about Windows 8. They can mostly be boiled down to “Why did you guys feel a need to hide practically everything?” Apparently we can’t have a Start button and a Start screen. And for some reason it takes 18 clicks and reciting a brief dance routine to restart your system.

But the real problem here seems to be Microsoft’s attempt to do the impossible: stuff a brand new user experience on top of an old one, add a new form of user interaction (touch), and then integrate them and make them as intuitive and easy to use as possible. If it’s too complicated for me to figure out, my neighbor buying his first system to use with his small business is totally screwed. But that said:

5. The integration of touch in Windows 8 is actually a win, it’s just not done.

During rare occasions when I can get things done via the Start screen and apps designed especially for Windows 8 like Skype and Evernote, it can be a delightful experience. It’s a hint of that potential I mentioned earlier in the successful merging of a mobile OS with legacy Windows.

Redmond landed on the shores of my brain decades ago and planted its flag with an MS-DOS command prompt.

Unfortunately, those moments have been few and far between the past few months. Even worse, most touch-based Windows 8 apps seem to be crippled in strange and inexplicable ways, or maybe some functions are just hidden too deep within the “Charms” bar for mere mortals to locate. Either way, there is work that remains to be done, and I’m hopeful that many of these fixes will be granted from upon high in the Pacific Northwest in a future update, which is why:

6. I’m not giving up. Maybe it’s not quite right that the continent of my attention is what Microsoft and others are trying to colonize with new ecosystems. Maybe it’s far beyond that. Maybe I’m just another of the conquered and Windows is my conqueror. Redmond landed on the shores of my brain decades ago and planted its flag with an MS-DOS command prompt. Then they wowed me with Windows 3.x and the majesty of Windows 95.

Since then I’ve been courted by other colonial powers, but I was conditioned at a young age to the ways of Windows and — no matter how it came to be this way — it still feels like home. Now my home has just received a fresh coat of paint. And even if the painters did a shoddy job and painted over all the switches and outlets and left a mess on the hardwood floor, I’m willing to wait for them to come clean things up and get my home looking better than ever.

Microsoft Confirms Windows 8 And Office Price Cuts For OEMs

Microsoft Confirms Windows 8 And Office Price Cuts For OEMsA couple of months ago we heard a rumor that suggested that Microsoft could be looking to cut the price on Windows 8 and Office in a bid to attract more OEMs to their platform. As it turns out the rumor was true as Microsoft has confirmed this themselves. This is according to Microsoft’s OEM division head, Nick Parker, who confirmed this during Computex 2013 which is currently held in Taiwan. However the price cuts do have some conditions attached, one of the main ones being that this is only applicable to OEMs who plan to manufacture smaller-sized Windows devices, basically tablets or laptops that are 10.1” in size or smaller.

Microsoft is supposedly cutting the licensing price by two-thirds, which is said to be roughly $100 before rebates. It definitely sounds like a pretty good incentive to get more OEMs on board, especially with the previous rumor suggesting that Windows RT could be getting a price cut as well to help attract more OEMs to make ARM-based Windows RT tablets as well.

HP Unveils Tegra 4 Powered SlateBook x2 and Split x2 Windows 8 Hybrid Tablets

American-based technology firm expanded its x2 line up with the addition of two new hyrbid models dubbed Split x2 and SlateBook x2.

The SlateBook x2 Android tablet sports a 10.1-inch 1920×1200 touchscreen and is powered by 1.80GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor. The tablet comes with 2GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage which can be expanded using the SD card slot. It runs on Android 4.2.2 and houses a 1080p rear-facing camera and a 720p front-facing camera. It also has stereo speakers with DTS+ sound HDMI port and 1x USB 2.0 port.

“Customers want to access and share content anywhere, anytime, on any internet connected device–and they expect those connections to be seamless,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer PCs, HP.

On the other hand, the Windows 8 powered Split x2 hybrid packs a 13.3-inch screen with 1,366×768 resolution. It houses 2GB RAM and 4GB RAM along with a 500GB hard drive. It sports an 8-megapixel  rear camera, two speakers with Beats Audio, an SD/microSD card reader, HDMI port, 1x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 2.0 ports.

Both devices pack two batteries, however the capacity of the battery is not known yet.

“The HP SlateBook x2 and the HP Split x2 are next-generation devices and the latest examples of our continued commitment to evolving the computing experience by providing the flexibility necessary for customers to be productive at home, at the office or on the go,” said Ron Coughlin.

HP’s SlateBook x2 and Split x2 are expected to hit the stores in August with a price-tag of $480 and $800, respectively.

How To Create A Windows 8 Installation DVD Or USB Stick

You may not realise this (I didn’t), but the Windows 8 upgrade tool actually gives you the option to create a DVD or USB — you just have to get past the activation screen first. Here’s what you do:

Download the Windows 8 Installer from Microsoft’s web site and run it on an existing Windows system. It doesn’t actually have to be the PC you want to upgrade, even though it says so — heck, it can be a PC you’ve already upgraded to Windows 8.
  1. If it prompts you for licence details, enter the key you received when you originally bought Windows 8.
  2. Once you have passed the licensing screen, it will ask you how you want to install Windows 8. Choose “Install by Creating Media.”
  3. It will now give you a choice between a flash drive or an ISO file. If you want to create a thumb drive, choose “USB Flash Drive” — if you want to create a DVD, choose “ISO File.”
  4. If you chose the ISO file, you can now burn it to a DVD with a tool such as ImgBurn.

Note that if you create the installation media on a 32-bit PC, you’ll get a 32-bit ISO, and if you create it on a 64-bit PC you’ll get a 64-bit ISO. Also note that you won’t be able to use this disc to do a clean install on an empty hard drive if it’s an upgrade version of Windows 8, but you should be able to do a clean install over an existing copy of Windows.

Once you read the steps, the process is extremely obvious, but if you aren’t aware that the option exists, you might be confused about how to burn a more traditional disc (I know I was).

Microsoft Issues Another Warning of XP’s Demise

Microsoft is reminding customers once again that Windows XP has less than a year to live until life support is switched off. The warning arrives as the Redmond company is gearing up to launch a preview of Windows 8.1 next month during the BUILD 2013 developers conference. The current warning is aimed primarily at small businesses reluctant to upgrade, but it also applies to all users still clinging to the ancient OS.

“Small businesses, we know you love Windows XP. It’s been good to you. But it’s 12 years old, and the time has come to start bidding it a fond farewell,” said Microsoft’s Jennifer Chen. “The unfortunate fact is that it’s out of date and support for it will end on April 8, 2014 – less than a year from now. Are you ready?”

Many may not be. In fact, many businesses and consumers may still think Windows XP will be supported by Microsoft despite the warnings. While speaking with one local retailer, the manager swore up and down that Microsoft will keep supporting the platform beyond May 2014 given that this particular chain has stores spread out across the country. After arguing back and forth with us over the subject, he still didn’t get the message, and said that HP would keep Windows XP supported indefinitely.

The scary aspect of this reluctance is that this chain holds the personal records of millions of customers. Another local business we spoke to was just as reluctant about upgrading, but a quick glance at the screen showed that even security updates issued by Microsoft weren’t installed. Again, like the former chain, this company holds personal records of all its customers. Imagine what will happen after April 2014.

“What does end of support mean? It means no security updates,” Chen added. “No free or paid assisted support options, and no updates to online content. Using new hardware and software will become increasingly difficult and incompatible.”

In 1Q13, Windows XP’s market share of the OS market was 38.31 percent, following Windows 7 which commanded 44.72 percent. The usage of Windows XP has dropped to some degree over the past year, but not as much as Microsoft would probably like. In June 2012, the platform owned 43.61 percent of the market, and by December it still retained 39.08 percent. That said, Microsoft has a long way to go before Windows XP is completely out of the picture.

Windows 8 hits 100 million sales, Microsoft working to address user complaints

Officials from Microsoft revealed the 100 million sales figure to media outlets last week, but it was only publicly released on Monday, according to Reuters. The sales pace for Windows 8 roughly matches that of Microsoft’s successful Windows 7, but observers doubt that the new system is on track to have an impact comparable to the older one.

In the past four months, Windows 8 has sold 40 million units, lower than Windows 7’s average sales rate. Windows 7, though, had the benefit of replacing the much maligned Windows Vista. Windows 8, meanwhile, represents Microsoft’s attempt to counteract the ongoing popularity of Apple’s iPad, even as the PC market that supported Microsoft and its hardware partners looks to be crumbling.

The traditional computing market — the so-called “Wintel” grouping of Microsoft, Intel, and a collection of PC manufacturers — suffered its biggest decline ever last quarter, dropping 14 percent year-over-year. A soft global economy, the rise of smartphones and tablets, and a plateau in overall PC design have all played a part in the market’s stagnation and decline, but observers also point the finger at Microsoft, whose Windows 8 marked a significant departure from the standard set by the preceding editions.

The touch-centric Modern UI featured in Windows 8 was Microsoft’s answer to the rise of iOS and Android, which dominate a mobile device segment where Microsoft has been largely unable to gain traction. Consumers balked, though, at Windows 8’s marked difference from its predecessors, especially the move away from a traditional desktop into the Metro UI’s tile-based touch environment and the apparent abandonment of the familiar Start button.

Windows 8 also suffered from high component prices in the touch-enabled computers it is meant to power. Microsoft has responded by cutting licensing prices for Windows 8 on some devices, as well asencouraging its partners to develop smaller Windows 8 form factors in order to compete with the iPad mini and other mid-size tablets.

Tablets running Windows 8 combined to grab about 7 percent of the market in the first quarter of last year. Apple’s iOS held roughly 48 percent of the market, while Google’s Android operating system grew to 43 percent.

The flat consumer response to Windows 8 has been likened to Coca-Cola’s launch of New Coke some 30 years ago, notes The Financial Times. Coca-Cola, though, dropped its New Coke formula after only three months of consumer backlash, while it apparently takes longer to turn around a software giant.

Microsoft is trying to turn it around, though: The Redmond giant is preparing a follow-up to Windows 8,currently codenamed Windows Blue. That version, also known as Windows 8.1, is said to include the ability to boot straight to the traditional desktop, largely bypassing the “Modern” environment. Microsoft will be revealing more about the update’s functionality in the coming weeks, but for now the company says it will be doing more to help consumers adapt to new features.

“The learning curve is real, and we need to address it,” Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Windows unit co-head, said to Reuters. “We’re not sitting back and saying they will get used to it.”

Microsoft VP Says Smaller Windows 8 Tablets Are Coming At The End Of June

Microsoft is thinking more about enabling Windows 8 to run on smaller and cheaper tablet computers, and we’ll get a look at the first of such devices at the end of June.

The news comes from comments made Julie Larson-Green, the corporate vice president for Windows at Microsoft, at Wired’s business conference today.

“We’ve made some recent changes in windows to allow smaller devices,” Larson-Green said when asked about smaller Windows tablets. “In fact you can get your hands on it at end of June.”

She went on to say that Windows Blue, the codename for the next version of Windows 8 that will have several new improvements, will launch at the end of June too. Microsoft is holding its Build developers conference on June 26 where it’s widely expected to unveil the final details of Windows Blue and possibly new models of its Surface tablets.

In Pictures: Touch and go, 11 new Windows 8 input devices tested

While there’s a lot more going on under hood, touch control is the singular Windows 8 feature that fundamentally changes how you interact with your notebook, tablet, or desktop PC.

The change in experience is almost as significant as the transition from relying on keyboard combinations to sliding a mouse around your desk. These days, you can control your device with a finger swipe or gesture as easily as you can by pressing buttons on a mouse or keyboard.

Those familiar devices aren’t necessarily going away, but they are evolving to leverage the new Windows user interface.

Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810 Logitech has a strong reputation for manufacturing great keyboards, and the K810 is no exception.

And if you like typing in the dark—either at your desk or on your living-room sofa—you’ll appreciate the backlit keys that automatically brighten or dim in response to ambient light.

The keyboard is extremely thin, with a slightly wedge-shaped profile, but it’s very comfortable to type on.

Logitech expects to fetch $100 for the K810, but the keyboard’s feature set and performance renders it worthy of that premium price tag.

Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Keyboard Microsoft’s take on ergonomics is that a keyboard should have subtle curves and plenty of padding. We actually dig it, but making the spacebar twice as wide as the other keys, splitting it two, and assigning the left side backspace functionality is a bridge too far. Fortunately, you can easily render the left spacebar a normal spacebar again.

There are dedicated Windows 8 shortcut keys for opening the Search, Share, Devices, and Settings charms, and Undo, Cut, Copy, New, and Open are printed on the Z, X, C, N, and O keys, respectively (in case your muscles haven’t memorized those Ctrl-plus combos). This keyboard doesn’t have a fancy backlight, but it’s priced right at $60.

Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard Microsoft packages its ergo concepts in a take-it-with-you model in the form of the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard. This $50 plank offers the same contoured shape of the Sculpt Comfort in a smaller, thinner, and lighter package, losing the padded wrist rest and the numeric keypad in the process.

The keys are full size, but the keyboard is so thin that there’s almost no well for them to travel down into. The Sculpt Mobile’s nearly flat design renders it awkward to use. Typing on this keyboard felt like tapping a 2×4. We’d almost rather use an on-screen keyboard.

Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard The Wedge Mobile’s lightweight, snap-on carrying case can also serve as a robust stand for your tablet, although it can maintain the tablet in only one position.

But this board’s key well is even shallower than the Sculpt Mobile’s. Plus, the keys are packed too tightly together, and they lack any texture. Those problems combined with the weak tactile feedback from the short throw had my fingertips running into each other like they were performing at a poorly choreographed dance recital.

Microsoft thinks the Wedge Mobile’s dual functionality renders the keyboard/stand combo worthy of a premium price tag: $80. We don’t.

Logitech Touch Mouse T620 Stroking the surface of the touch-sensitive Touch Mouse T260 with your fingertips is supposed to have the same impact as gestures performed on a touchscreen monitor. But it didn’t always work that way.

Gestures include swiping one fingertip in from the left edge to switch between applications, or from the right edge to open the Windows 8 Charms panel. Swiping left and right with one finger activates horizontal scrolling, while performing the same movement with two fingers moves backward and forward in your web browser history.

The surface of the mouse is devoid of texture, and there are no markings or to identify the areas you’re supposed to interact with.

Logitech Zone Touch Mouse T400 Logitech has replaced the middle button on the $50 Zone Touch T400 with a glass touch strip. Clicking the forward two-thirds of the strip takes you to the Windows 8 Start screen, while tapping the back two-thirds area opens a window that allows you to switch applications. Sliding your fingers left and right across the strip performs a horizontal scroll.

We liked the feel of the matte finish on top of the T400, and its rubber-coated sides render it easy to grip. But the device is too small for anyone with even average-sized hands. We hadn’t been using the mouse for more than an hour before ours curled into a painful claw.

Microsoft Touch Mouse We were almost ready to give up on the touch mouse concept after auditioning Logitech’s offerings, but Microsoft’s Touch Mouse changed our mind. The $80 price tag, on the other hand, is a little hard to swallow (and that’s apparently a common sentiment, because it’s currently on sale in the Microsoft store for $50).

The Touch Mouse can distinguish between gestures performed with one, two, or three fingers on its top surface, and it can perform other commands in response to thumb gestures on its side. Flick one finger to the left or right to scroll in the corresponding direction. Slide two fingers to the right to switch to your next open application, or slide them left to open the Windows 8.

Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse In our book, the best peripherals are simple to operate and comfortable to hold. Microsoft’s $50 Sculpt Touch Mouse offers three simple buttons, a comfortable shape, and Bluetooth support.

The four-direction middle mouse touch strip provides tactile feedback, so you know exactly where your fingertip is. Swipe quickly and send the page flying in that direction, which is perfect for scrolling through long documents.

The touch pad can be a little finicky when responding to pressure, but it’s generally a reliable device.

Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse The first time we grasped Microsoft’s Wedge Touch Mouse, our fingers overshot its buttons by a good inch and a half. The device has only enough room for your thumb and one finger to grasp either side and for your index finger to rest on top.

Touch capabilities are limited to just four-way scrolling: Slide your finger left or right to scroll horizontally, or stroke toward you or down and away to scroll vertically. There’s no pinch to zoom, browser history, or media-player control features, for example.

Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650 If you’d like to ditch your mouse altogether, Logitech offers a very capable alternative with the wireless Touchpad T650. The 5.25-by-5.1-inch trackpad recognizes 12 distinct gestures and up to four touch points.

Mastering the Touchpad T650 takes practice, but if you’ve memorized all the Windows 8 gestures that a touch-screen display recognizes, you can use them all with this touchpad. Slide three fingers up the pad to bring up the Windows 8 start screen, or slide three fingers down the pad to show the desktop. You can spread two fingers apart to zoom in, or pinch two fingers together to zoom in.

Targus Touch Pen Months after the operating system’s rollout, Windows 8 notebooks with touchscreens remain few and far between. And if you’ve upgraded your old notebook, it’s even less likely to have a touchscreen. Attach the $100 Targus Touch Pen to your machine and bam! Instant touchscreen!

Installation is a bit of a hassle: You must stick a magnet to the laptop’s s bezel and attach a small receiver, and you need to use the pen stylus to perform touch commands (not your fingertip), but there aren’t any drivers to install, and the system works well. The pen is comfortable to hold and use and you’ll be able to use all of the gesture controls in Windows 8 just like you had a touchscreen.

No Windows desktop mode!? No!

It comes as no surprise to anyone who reads my stories that I hate Windows 8’s Metro interface. I’m not alone. Lots of people hate it. But instead of switching back to an Aero-style interface, perhaps the most respected technical Windows writer out there, blogger Paul Thurrott, looked at the leaked Windows Blue release and thinks Microsoft is planning on dumping Windows Desktop mode entirely. No!

I’ve thought all along that one way Microsoft could save Windows 8 from its current market malaise if it would make its desktop mode the primary interface instead of Metro.

That isn’t what Thurrott sees happening though. In fact, he sees the exact opposite.

Thurrott wrote, “All the action in this build is in PC settings, and if you were looking for any further proof the desktop being eased out going forward, look no further than this. As noted in the previous report, there are a ton of new settings in there now, including many items that were previously only available in the desktop-based Control Panel interface. This is clearly an indication of how we get from here (Windows 8) to there (Windows 9, with potentially no desktop).” As further proof, he observed, “The default apps interface has been completely Metro-ized in this release.”

Some observers, like ComputerWorld’s Preston Gralla, agree with him: “There’s a reasonable chance that Microsoft will finally get around to killing the Desktop in Windows 9,” Gralla writes. “With Windows 8, Microsoft did its best to make the Desktop at best an afterthought, relegating it to a tile on the Start screen. Windows 8 has been built for touch and the horizontal orientation of a tablet, and the Desktop has no place in that world.”

Others, such as Byte’s Larry Seltzer, disagree: “Can anyone actually believe this? Earth to Paul: The Windows desktop is a major strength of the operating system, ‘especially’ as compared to the competition. There is an ocean of expertise and customized software out there on the Windows desktop, and Microsoft would never alienate these people.”

I’d agree with Seltzer, except… well, Microsoft is already alienating those users. I know some Windows 8 PC users. The majority of them zoom past Metro and get to a normal Windows Desktop as fast as possible. If Thurrott is right, Windows users will be locked into Metro once and for all. That will fly as well as a lead brick.

One source close to Microsoft told me he can’t see Microsoft dumping the desktop anytime soon. “There’s the little, itty-bitty problem of hundreds of thousands of desktop applications that will take years, if not longer, to migrate to WinRT API-based apps. Just bringing Office alone to WinRT will be a Manhattan Project.”

Of course, Microsoft does have one way around this problem: Move all its business apps to the cloud and make them software as a service (SaaS) apps. This fits in nicely with Ed Bott’s vision of Microsoft’s future as a cloud-based service provider with its own hardware line, Surface.

If moving its business applications to the cloud really is the plan, then Microsoft could indeed leave Windows 8’s desktop mode behind. I wouldn’t be happy about it, and I don’t see that I’d ever like Metro, but a combination of cloud services and Windows-based devices with Metro interfaces could win for Microsoft.

It’s beginning to look more and more like if you want a traditional desktop, you’re going to need to use Linux. Who’d thought it?

As a long-time desktop Linux user, that’s fine by me, but I wonder if Windows users really want to follow me to Linux, or if they’d rather just have a working, Aero-style desktop instead of a cloud-based Metro device? I’d bet they’d really rather have their fine old desktop anyday.