The next big update of Windows - which is allegedly codenamed “Threshold” - is said to change this.
Windows 9 is allegedly going to aim for the same things like Windows 8. It’s said to merge the Metro experience and the traditional desktop by introducing Metro 2.0.
I think the most important change would be to stop differentiating between desktop apps and Windows Store apps. They should both run in the same interface. Creating two completely separate experiences was always a silly idea.
This new interface would also be called “desktop” - though sometimes referred to as “touch desktop” for reasons of differentiation. And it would also feature windows. However, it would work significantly easier than the traditional desktop: For instance, you cannot place one window above another. And you can also only size or position windows following a big grid.
The idea behind this huge amount of space is another important part of the new UI: all active apps would be placed on the desktop. There’s no way to minimize apps in the traditional sense and move them to kind like a taskbar or into a special multitasking interface. Instead, the desktop itself would fulfill the job of such a multitasking interface.
For this purpose, the user can “minimize” windows by sizing them 1x1. All windows of that size would do nothing but display the app icon. Unlike normal windows, minimized windows can also be moved outside of the resize-mode. Tapping on such a minimized app expands it to the smallest size the app has been optimized for. This implementation would help the user to still keep an overview of all active apps, which would otherwise become harder since all those active apps are at the same place now.
This implementation could easily lead to great dynamics. Whenever you have scrolled through the desktop, you can resize or reposition windows. Or the interface might quickly disappear again without disturbing your workflow and you can continue whatever you were doing. This non-obligatory option that pops up by the way is also very similar to how you can always resize windows on the traditional desktop.
Further more, the resize interface has yet a few more features, for instance a very distinct and nice design, and the great achievement to be completely “tap and hold”-free. All those aspects are explained more deeply within the fourth concept picture.
The Start Screen would be placed below the touch desktop, thus swiping up from the Start Bar would lead to the Start Screen, as well as swiping down from the Start Screen would lead to the desktop vice versa (see picture 6). This would also make much sense for the user, who could easily understand where an app came from and how the whole system works. There are no hidden charms or other menus and options hidden behind every corner, no endless multitasking interfaces and no separate desktop: just these two interfaces!
I’d also like to emphasize the great individualism and capability to adapt to many very different workflows. This aspect is also very reminiscent of the traditional desktop. I think the 4 example pics give a great overview at what’s possible.
At the end, I could even imagine tablets becoming more productive than the traditional desktop in certain cases thanks to this UI. Using your fingers is significantly more intuitive and faster than using a mouse, but up to now no UI seemed to make a real advantage out of this. As this whole system is also a great foundation for future updates, I can really see tablets becoming the new working machines soon!