If slides of a Windows 8 Presentation document leaked on the internet a couple of days ago are to be believed, Microsoft could well be plotting the demise of the Desktop platform, one which it help make mainstream nearly 30 years ago with the launch of the original IBM PC compatible.
The ones that caught our eyes were slide 26 (opens in new tab) and slide 15 (opens in new tab) where Microsoft identifies three different vital form factors for Windows 8; Slate, Laptop and All in One computers.
The two slides apparently show that Microsoft is focused on helping partners and developers create form factors that are "optimised to deliver compelling experiences to targeted audiences".
The apparent downgrading of the desktop is not something new. We've written about the death of desktop computers as a form factor in the past (see Should we just kill Traditional Desktop PCs?) and even Apple's Steve Jobs has predicted the death of the platform.
From what we can see, each of the platform will be optimised for a list of overlapping tasks including media management, productivity and casual gaming. The key word here is "optimised", all the platforms will be able to carry out other tasks, but performance might be subpar.
What does that mean? Well, for a start, desktops will become a smaller part of the product mix of mainstream manufacturers like Dell or Acer in the future as the price delta between laptops and traditional desktops shrink.
Then we will see the rise of hybrids like the Nettop, essentially a netbook without any input peripherals or screen or tablet computers, essentially, a netbook without any keyboard or mouse.
We shall also witness more powerful smartphones that can take on the role of the desktop PC, significantly more polyvalent gaming consoles and set top boxes like the Google TV project.
Add in cloud computing in the mix, the advent of software as a service (Google Apps, Onlive), ubiquitous, always on connectivity and cheaper bandwidth and suddenly it does make sense that Microsoft looks into life afer the desktop
The desktop will not die out completely. There will still be a number of users who will prefer to have something expandable, customisable and will still be beloved by enthusiasts who like tinkering with their own hardware.