This Week in Tech 611: Bezel Come Back

At the F8 Developer Conference, Facebook shows off its hot new augmented reality technology – which looks a whole lot like Snapchat. Apple is secretly working on non-invasive blood sugar detection, which could be a boon to millions of diabetics. Apple also wants to save the Earth by using 100% recycled materials in its products, covering its headquarters in solar panels, and manufacturing its own sweat. Wait, what? Google, which has made billions in ad revenue, is working on an ad blocker. The Samsung Galaxy S8 came out this week and has yet to explode. Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, seems to be fizzling. According to Qualcomm, the first Windows PC using an ARM chip could be out later this year. in completely unrelated news, Intel has canceled the Intel Developer Forum. HTC’s newest phone, codenamed Ocean, will have a squeezable frame and a questionable logo. Steve Ballmer’s new site makes government spending more accessible. Another bad week for Uber. And McDonald’s new uniforms highlight the techno-dystopia we all live in.

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Intel’s five (not very) big announcements from IDF this week

If you’ve paid any attention to Intel’s developer event in San Francisco this week, you’ve probably gathered already that there’s almost no chip news at the show. Intel has moved up the food chain, so to speak, and is showing developers what they can build with its technologies rather than focusing on new components.

It makes sense, since with PCs on the wane Intel needs developers to get creative with its products. It can no longer flash a faster Core i7 chip and expect them to go do something interesting with it, because PCs nowadays just aren’t that interesting. Instead, it needs to show them what else they can do with its latest chips.

So we’ve been hearing a lot about robots, depth-sensing cameras, smart vending machines and bracelets that log you into your PC. It’s important stuff for Intel, and entertaining to watch a sensor-equipped BMX bike jump over the head of CEO Brian Krzanich. But there’s not a ton of big news we hadn’t heard about before.

Still, here are 5 of the most interesting things announced so far, and since we’re already halfway through IDF there probably won’t be much else.

SmartSound and Wake on Voice

Intel didn’t talk much about its upcoming Skylake desktop CPUs this week, but it did reveal that the chip has an integrated DSP used for a feature called Intel Smart Sound, which will allow computers to listen out for audio signals without using up too much power.

It worked with Microsoft to build an upcoming technology for Windows 10 called Wake on Voice, which will let you walk up to a Windows 10 in sleep mode and bring it to life by saying “Hey Cortana.” Some smartphones already have this always-listening feature, but it’s not available yet on a PC.

The catch is, we’re told Wake on Voice won’t arrive with the first Skylake chips, which means it won’t be supported in the first wave of Windows 10 PCs.

Button-sized Curie chip coming in Q4

OK, there was a little bit of chip news. Curie is Intel’s tiny system-on-chip for wearables. Unveiled at CES earlier this year, it’s as big as a fingernail and includes a Quark microprocessor, Bluetooth radio, accelerometer and gyroscope.

Intel announced this week that “select” hardware makers will get their hands on Curie to build products in the fourth quarter. Regular developers will get it too at the Maker Faire in Rome, Krzanich said, which takes place in October.

As well as rings, bracelets and fitness trackers, Curie can be embedded in just about anything. Intel showed how you can track the speed and position of a BMX bike that apparently had Curie chips on its handlebars and saddle. It also released some new SDKs, including one called Identity IQ, which can authenticate a wearer’s identity. That could eventually let you unlock your PC using a smart bracelet, as Krzanich demonstrated in his keynote.

RealSense goes everywhere

RealSense is Intel’s 3D depth-sensing camera. It uses three lenses — a standard 2D camera, an infrared laser and an infrared camera. It basically allows a computer to “see,” and Intel has already shown a drone navigating through trees in the woods using RealSense.

It’s already in some PCs, and at CES Intel showed the first prototype smartphone with RealSense. This could allow several handy uses. RealSense can be used to measure distances, so you can go furniture shopping and use your smartphone as a tape measure. It can also take photos that allow you to adjust the focus later, a bit like a Lytro camera, and it can be used to scan objects for sending to a 3D printer.

RealSense is the most pervasive technology at IDF. It’s also being shown in a vending machines that can tell the sex and age of the person standing in front of it, and in a robot bellhop that will deliver drinks to your hotel room. it’s also in gaming systems, including a new camera from Razer to use on the Twitch game streaming service.

High-speed 3D XPoint memory and storage coming next year

Intel will launch the first products next year based on 3D XPoint, a new memory type it developed with Micron. Intel claims it will be 10x as dense as DRAM and 1,000 as fast as NAND Flash – although speed tests on stage revealed the initial performance gain to be closer to just 7x.

Under a new brand called Intel Optane, Intel will launch SSDs for servers and PCs next year, and also memory DIMMs for servers. Intel says 3D XPoint will supercharge everything from PC gaming to in-memory databases.

Intel is sponsoring a reality show?

Strange but true, Intel has partnered with United Artists to produce a reality TV show called “America’s Greatest Makers.” It will follow the trials and travails of inventors cometing to build the greatest wearable or gadget using Intel’s Curie chip, and the winner will get a $1 million prize.

via Intel’s five (not very) big announcements from IDF this week | PCWorld.

History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer, Part 3

The Datamaster was an all-in-one computer with text-mode CRT display, keyboard, processor, memory, and two 8-inch floppy disk drives all contained in one cabinet. (Photo: Oldcomputers.net)

The Model 5150 wasn’t IBM’s first attempt at building a personal computer, with at least four previous projects being scrapped as the market moved faster than IBM’s corporate decision making. The Intel 8085-equipped System/23 DataMaster business computer also enduring a protracted development starting in February 1978. The DataMaster system entry into the market in July 1981 led to the change in design strategy in addition to members of the design team being assigned work on the new PC project.

IBM’s original plan had been to design the personal computer around Motorola’s 6800 processor at its Austin, Texas research center. IBM marketing had arranged for the PC to be sold through the stores of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and the deal teetered in the balance as Motorola’s 6800 along with its support chips slipped in schedule.

A contingency plan named Project Chess was set up to run concurrently with the Austin design and seemed to gain traction after Atari approached IBM about building a personal computer, if IBM were so inclined to design one. Official IBM sanction was achieved when project director William (Bill) Lowe pledged to have the design finalized in a year. To meet this timescale, Lowe would source from vendors outside IBM.

Project director William Lowe pledged to have the design finalized in a year sourcing components from vendors outside IBM.

What remained was choice of processor and operating system for the PC. Lowe and Estridge were astute enough to realize that IBM’s senior management would not look kindly upon a PC that posed a performance threat to the company’s lucrative business machines (a System/23 DataMaster terminal with printer listed for around $9,900 at the time).

The original intention seems to have been to use an 8-bit processor, which would have allowed MOS Tech’s 6502, Zilog’s Z80, and Intel’s 8085 to be considered. However, IBM engineers favored the use of 16-bit, as did Bill Gates, who lobbied IBM to use 16-bit to fully showcase the operating system he was developing , while the arrival of 32-bit architectures from Motorola and National Semiconductor (the 68000 and 16032 respectively) were set to enter production outside of the one year deadline.

The eventual choice was a compromise of 8-bit and 16-bit to allay concerns over compatibility with existing software and expansion options while reducing the bill of materials from a cheaper processor and support chips that were already available, and to retain a significant performance gap between the PC and IBM’s business machines.

IBM’s decision was made easier as the microprocessor landscape was becoming a war of attrition. MOS Tech was acquired by Commodore after MOS was financially decimated by Texas Instrument’s calculator price war and focus shifted from innovation to capitalizing on the success of the 6502. Western Design Center (WDC) would eventually bring 16-bit computing to the 6500 series, but as with many microprocessor companies, the competition had rendered them all redundant by the time they were ready for market.

Zilog’s fortunes also suffered a downturn, as majority shareholder and later parent company Exxon was happy to see the fledgling company go into breakneck product diversification. R&D expenditure topped 35% of revenue, while the wider range of development caused slippage in its own 16-bit Z8000 processor as Exxon’s demands and the relative managerial inexperience of Federico Faggin became exposed.

Faggin and Ungermann had started Zilog to build microprocessors, but Exxon had bought Zilog as a cog in a machine along with a host of other electronics and software company acquisitions for a grand design they hoped would rival IBM. This would turn into a billion dollar failure.

Zilog’s waning fortunes, even as its Z80 powered a prodigious number of computers, terminals, and industrial machines, also cascaded down upon its second source licensees. AMD’s license for Intel’s 8085 hadn’t translated into an invitation to do likewise with its follow up 8086 processor. For a viable 16-bit processor this left Jerry Sanders with the alternative of approaching Motorola or Zilog as National Semiconductors offering was shaping up as promising much but delivering little.

Full Story: History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer, Part 3 – TechSpot.

The so-called ‘death of the PC’

Last week Microsoft announced some decent numbers for their last reporting period.

Cue me getting an equally decent number of messages on Twitter along the lines of: “Ha! You say the PC is dying, but look at Microsoft’s numbers!”

Quite.

Next, a quick Google for the phrase “so-called death of the PC” yields a good few dozen blog posts from my compatriots at other publications. Each of them make the argument that with good Microsoft financial results, the PC can’t be dying.

Ungh. That’s not really what “death of the PC” means. Let me explain…

Options

The whole phrase “death of the PC” is just a convenient hook. The PC isn’t dying — it can’t die, for reasons that I’ll come on to.

Instead of all this, the better way to read what is happening to the industry isn’t that the Microsoft is doing badly; rather it’s to look at how well all of the other guys are doing. On one hand, there are fewer PCs being sold than there used to be, and on the other hand there are more post-PC (smartphones and tablet) devices being sold than there used to be.

This is all about people — mainly consumers, but this affects business users too — having more choice than they used to have.

Here’s a case in point:

We now know that Office 365 in the home-use market is doing rather well, having hit two million subscribers. If you need to have Office at home, and you’re going to buy it, there is no better way of buying it than on subscription. That goes for small businesses too — if you need Office, an Office 365 subscription is fantastic value and totally the best way to buy that product.

But consumers, and via the creeping unstoppability that is “consumerisation of IT”, business users too now don’t have to choose Office at all. They can do other things. In this case they could choose freebie Google Docs, or the equally free Office Web Apps.

It’s not about “death of the PC”, it’s about “the birth of choice”.

In the pre-post-PC era, choice came somewhat less easily. Sure, you could choose to ditch Office for OpenOffice, but oftentimes IT managers felt that to make that choice might end up ending their careers in new and innovative ways. Or, to put it another way, in the pre-post-PC era, the choice was that there was no choice.

Efficiency

Another funny thing that comes up when people talk to me about the death of the PC is the idea that people will be sitting there at their desks tapping out emails on their phones rather than using a PC. Why would anyone do that if they have a perfectly good PC sitting there?

For business use, we have as an industry spent decades making the PC unbelievably good at doing business-y things in business environments. There’s no reason to ditch any of that, and I’m sure that as an industry we’ll continue to make the PC better.

The PC is all about driving commercial efficiency, and it’s that bit that it’s good at. Post-PC devices are all about driving relationships by bringing people more smoothly into contact with the people and the things that they live.

We’ll always have an economy, and as such we’ll always need improvements in commercial efficiency and always need information systems to do it. From that perspective, the PC isn’t dying and never will. (And if it turns out that we don’t have an economy, we have bigger problems than the numbers our favourite tech firms report.)

So from that perspective, we’d expect Microsoft to do well in their enterprise markets, and they appear to be doing so. That should come as no surprise to anyone.

But this choice is not going to go away. Someone whose sole interaction with online services is chatting to friends on Snapchat, selling things on eBay, a spot of online banking, and maybe a splash of email, doesn’t get the same “win” out of a PC, because a PC is designed to serve a commercial market first and not them and their needs.

Hence Microsoft’s challenge to reposition itself as a devices and services company. If people are going to be choosing from Column A or Column B, it makes sense to have products in both Column A and Column B.

Conclusion

In essence, the PC cannot die in this new post-PC, choice-led market because it was never alive. Buying stuff for your hobby on eBay, posting on Facebook, playing games, etc — because those things did nothing for commercial efficiency, and did everything for your relationships, they were post-PC functions. That you could do them on the PC at all was accidental. What you were actually doing there was trying out the services on prototype devices. The real production devices for all that are smartphones and tablets.

So the PC isn’t dying. It’s not going anywhere. What we need is a different phrase to sum this phase of the market up. How about “PC and post-PC? Vive la différence.”

Intel sees ‘no holiday cheer for PCs’, says analyst

Things aren’t looking so great for the PC market, and much of the same can be said about the chipmaker and PC hardware sector.

Sterne Agee analyst Vijay Rakesh warned in a note to analysts on Monday that Intel’s fourth quarter likely won’t look so hot compared to the same quarter a year ago, when the PC decline was gathering momentum for a full-blown collapse.

Read this

Intel shows off fanless PCs, new phones, $100 tablets and wearables at IDF

Intel shows off fanless PCs, new phones, $100 tablets and wearables at IDF

Intel revealed a slew of new products at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco as part of its strategy to “put our tech in every segment of computing”.

Read more

Rakesh warned that pre-holiday sales during the once-seen as lucrative “back to school” season, typically during August and September, didn’t garner the payout the chipmaker was expecting.

“We believe back to school PC demand has been virtually absent,” Rakesh said in the note.

With this, higher channel inventories and “lackluster demand” now suggests a flat fourth-quarter, compared to a typical seasonal bump of between 5-7 percent quarter-over-quarter. Worryingly, supply chain checks suggest a flat December holiday season for PC sales, where typically many would expect a significant rise — current market conditions notwithstanding.

As a result, the analyst is lowering his end-of-year PC growth estimates down from a 9.6 percent loss to a 10.7 percent loss year-over-year.

He remains concerned about Intel’s lack of progress on the mobile stage. While Windows-powered tablets are on the most part the driving mobile force of the firm’s mobile efforts, the chipmaker has yet to make any meaningful share in the smartphone space.

According to Rakesh: “We believe PCs continue to be challenging combined with potentially weaker Intel handset-mobile segment post the Nokia-Microsoft merger.”

There is an upshot for the chipmaker, however.

During the second half, Rakesh said Intel was expecting a datacenter bounce with enterprise rebound, which falls in line with Sterne Agee’s 10-15 percent datacenter growth estimate. Rakesh said this was in spite of the flat second-quarter datacenter spending across the industry, as well as the flat year-over-year federal spending.

via Intel sees ‘no holiday cheer for PCs’, says analyst | ZDNet.

PC gamers fuel hardware sales in otherwise stagnant market

There’s no denying the market is increasingly moving away from desktop computers and towards mobile devices. We see reports highlighting this quarter after quarter along with several explanations for the trend; from price sensitivity to maturing markets and longer PC hardware upgrade cycles. But despite the gloomy headlines forecasting the death of PCs there’s one area of the market that’s still thriving: PC gamers and enthusiasts.

According to Jon Peddie Research, PC gamers continue buying and building PCs “with a fervency that could be compared to motorcycle, 4X4, and sports car enthusiasts, always looking for more speed, power, utility, and handling.” The market research firm says that they are expecting growth in the most expensive discrete graphics products, while embedded graphics offerings should do well in this and future generations.

Overall — save for a year-on-year drop from $18.3 to $17.8 billion in 2013 — the global PC gaming hardware market is forecasted to grow every year throughout 2016, reaching a $20.8 billion valuation.

JPR notes that gaming is becoming an even more important purchasing influencer of PC sales, and with some titles pushing the envelope on both the CPU and GPU, hardware upgrades often involve more than just swapping out the graphics add-in board. Using Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA 3 as an example, the company says it is estimating over $800 million of PC builds influenced primarily by this title.

The group concludes that while consoles have a place in the living room and mobile devices are indeed moving into gaming territory, they just can’t compete with the PC’s control precision and power. Of course there’s just one important aspect JPR failed to mention and that is developers’ continued support for the platform, so here’s hoping we’ll see a healthy stream of titles optimized for PCs and less of underwhelming console ports.

via PC gamers fuel hardware sales in otherwise stagnant market – TechSpot.

Windows 8.1 to ship on 8/1, according to Paul Thurrott

Long-time industry insider Paul Thurrott has indicated the shipment date for Windows 8.1 (formerly Windows Blue) will be August 1 — or more cleverly put: 8/1. Thurrots date defies previous rumors of a later launch thought to possibly be sometime in October.

Windows 8.1 to ship on 8/1, according to Paul Thurrott - TechSpot

At first glance, the tweet may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, when a follower chose to contend the purported shipment date, Thurrott issued a reply which lent more weight to his original tweet.

Windows 8.1 to ship on 8/1, according to Paul Thurrott - TechSpot

Although not infallible, Thurrott has a solid track record when it comes to rumors — particularly ones from Microsoft — thanks to his variety of inside sources and industry connections.

Interestingly though, Microsoft recently confirmed it would be releasing its 8.1 public preview during an annual conference slated for June 26 through 28. As these types of releases are typically unfinished products, Thurrott’s purported ship date would leave Microsoft with a nearly one-month lapse between preview and retail — that’s an uncharacteristically small amount of time for the company to give itself to iron out any remaining kinks.

So far, we know that Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade aimed at improving the Windows 8 user experience, particularly the Metro / Modern UI areas of the OS. The update will feature the return of the Start button (but not menu), better Start Screen searching and customization, access to most system settings without leaving to the desktop, enhanced apps and Internet Explorer 11.

via Windows 8.1 to ship on 8/1, according to Paul Thurrott – TechSpot.

Dell remains committed to Windows RT

Dell remains committed to Microsoft’s Windows RT, despite the poor market reception to the OS and a decline in prices of related tablets.

The company has “future generations” of its XPS 10 tablet, which runs Windows RT, under development, said Neil Hand, vice president at Dell.

The upcoming tablets will be lighter and faster, though Hand did not provide any further details on release dates or specifications of the XPS 10 successor.

Microsoft shipped Windows RT for ARM-based devices and Windows 8 for Intel-based devices in October last year. The XPS 10 was released to positive reviews shortly after, with prices starting at $499. The tablet now starts at $449, and Windows RT tablets are offered by Samsung, Asus and Microsoft, whose Surface RT starts at $499.

At the time of its release, there were many questions on how users would adapt to Windows RT, which is a tablet-optimized OS, while Windows 8 provides the tablet and traditional desktop PC experience. Windows RT does not support applications that ran in old versions of Windows, which raised confusion among potential buyers on which OS to buy.

Hand acknowledged that the adoption of Windows RT had its challenges, but that the OS has a chance to succeed as users gain familiarity.

dell logo

“It’s turned slower than we were hoping at this point in time,” Hand said.

Helping customers understand the OS’s limits is an ongoing challenge, but Dell’s customers who have XPS 10 love the device, Hand said.

Improvements are being made to the OS, Hand noted. In addition, there are more than 50,000 applications available via Microsoft’s store for Windows 8 and RT, and the number is growing everyday.

“Over the long haul it shouldn’t matter if it is Windows on ARM, Windows on Intel, Windows on anything else,” Hand said.

Dell’s backing of RT is a glimmer of hope for the OS, which has been acknowledged as a failure by some hardware companies. Prices of RT tablets have been falling, and Acer executives have said that Microsoft has not pumped enough money into marketing the OS. Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said he was disappointed with the poor response to Windows RT.

Dell on Monday offers two business tablets with 10-inch screens, but is keeping the door open to releasing tablets with smaller screen sizes. The other tablet being sold by Dell is the Latitude 10, which runs Windows 8 and has the Intel tablet chip code-named Clover Trail.

“We’ll over time make sure we are strong and aggressive in the consumer price/consumption driven piece of the market,” Hand said.

The company is closely watching the response to Hewlett-Packard’s upcoming Slate 7, which will go on sale later this month starting at $169. But Hand declined to say if the company’s upcoming tablets would go in the sub-$200 range, saying it will respond to market needs.

The company’s focus right now is around 10-inch tablets, as they can accommodate a larger battery and be used in laptop mode with a keyboard attached. Dell is also focusing more on a bundling a strong software package in tablets with applications like PocketCloud, which provides access to files over the cloud.

Dell is currently on the block to go private. CEO Michael Dell and equity firm Silver Lake Partners on Feb. 5 offered to take Dell private for $24.4 billion, with the proposed deal including a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. However, counteroffers have been made by other investment groups led by Blackstone Group and Carl Icahn, respectively.

In response to customer concerns about the company’s direction in case of a buyout, Dell has said it will continue to invest in tablets and PCs. Dell in recent years has focused on enterprise products while moving away from low-end consumer PCs.

via Dell remains committed to Windows RT | PCWorld.

IDC: PC shipments down 13.9% for the first quarter, blames Windows 8

The research firm IDC posted a report in March, predicting that for the entire year of 2013, PC shipments worldwide would contract by 1.3 percent. Today, IDC issued their report on PC shipments for the first quarter of 2013 and the results were even worse than what the firm had expected.

IDC says that there were 76.3 million PC units shipped during the first three months of the year, which is 13.9 percent lower than the same period a year ago. IDC previously predicted first quarter 2013 PC shipments would go down but by just 7.7 percent.

What’s the culprit? IDC points the finger squarely at Microsoft and the launch of Windows 8 as the main reason for the lower number of PC shipments. Part of the reason is that Windows 8 PCs with touchscreens and slim designs have been “hampered by traditional barriers of price and component supply.” However, IDC says that the design of Windows 8 itself is also to blame.

Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays, states:

While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.

IDC also says that the current restructuring issues that are affecting two of the major PC makers, HP and Dell, have not helped the PC market. Lenovo seems to be an exception, with IDC claiming that it “continues to execute on a solid ‘attack’ strategy.” Microsoft is scheduled to reveal its first quarter 2013 financial results on Thursday, April 18th. Hopefully we should get some more color about Windows 8 sales at that time.

via IDC: PC shipments down 13.9% for the first quarter, blames Windows 8 – Neowin.

Five reasons why the Windows desktop isn’t going away

I really didn’t want to write about Windows Blue this week.

For one thing, it’s the last day of my vacation. More importantly, there’s practically no actual information about Blue to write about. Microsoft is only talking in vague generalities. I’m not going to download bootleg software from questionable sources and try to reverse-engineer it, nor do I want to spend a lot of time staring at screen shots from people who are willing to do that.

But my ZDNet colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, who seems to write more about Windows 8 than any of the actual Microsoft experts here at ZDNet, has no such compunctions.

Vaughan-Nichols, on the thinnest possible evidence, is convinced that Microsoft is going to ditch the Windows desktop in the next major release of Windows. “No Windows desktop mode!? No!” he writes.

His post begins, “It comes as no surprise to anyone who reads my stories that I hate Windows 8’s Metro interface…” Really? Well, at least we can give him some points for honesty.

No points for clear, factual analysis, though. Sorry.

I apologize that you had to read this nonsensical speculation on ZDNet. And even though I didn’t want to do this, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

No, Microsoft is not going to jettison the Windows desktop. Anyone who thinks that’s even remotely possible needs to just stop writing about Microsoft.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Let’s start with the “evidence.”

Paul Thurrott, of Windows Supersite fame, has now published two posts about the leaked Windows Blue build 9364.

The first is based on screenshots from a Polish tech blog.

Let me repeat that: An American blogger looked at screenshots of a leaked Windows alpha build published in Polish and wrote detailed captions for them, adding a few morsels of speculation.

Paul then downloaded a bootleg copy of the software from who knows where and did a “quick run-through” in a second blog post. In that post, as an aside, he writes:

More, but not all, of the settings in Control Panel have been ported to the Metro-based PC settings, yet another indication that the desktop environment is on the way out.

There. That’s the line that has my colleague so concerned about the future of Windows.

Of course, I am just a wee bit concerned that his concerns about the future of Windows are less than sincere. This is, after all, the same man who earlier this month wrote Five reasons why Windows 8 has failed, following in the footsteps of his Five ways to skip Windows 8 (July 2012) and Five ways to avoid Windows 8 (May 2012) and Five Reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival (February 2012).

Hmmm. I detect a pattern here.

In the same spirit as those posts, let me lay out the five reasons why the Windows desktop is not going away.

1. Four million desktop apps need to run somewhere. Back in 2010, at the International CES in Las Vegas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that four million desktop programs run on Windows 7. All of those programs run on Windows 8, too. Backward compatibility is the lifeblood of Windows. The idea that those legacy apps will be orphaned in a single release is ludicrous.

2. Corporate customers and OEMs would mutiny. Corporate customers need to write custom apps that run on Windows. Those apps need to do things that aren’t possible in the highly constrained Windows 8 app model. And those corporate customers with their volume licenses pay billions of dollars in license fees to Microsoft every year for Windows. Say what you want about Steve Ballmer, but don’t try to tell me he’s going to willingly give up one of Microsoft’s most lucrative revenue streams. And if you think that, well, then you probably think Richard Stallman is next in line to be Chief Technical Officer of Microsoft.

Full Story: Five reasons why the Windows desktop isn’t going away | ZDNet.