Is Windows Blue Microsoft's next step in killing the desktop?

Desktop could be dead by Windows 9

Windows Blue application snap

After gaining an inside look at Microsoft's upcoming "Windows Blue" update to Windows 8, Windows blogger Paul Thurrott concluded that the desktop could really be on its way out.

"All the action in this build is in PC settings, and if you were looking for any further proof the desktop [is] being eased out going forward, look no further than this," Thurrott wrote in his analysis published Sunday.

"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," he continued. "This is clearly an indication of how we get from here (Windows 8) to there (Windows 9, with potentially no desktop)."

Microsoft has already made the desktop literally useless in Windows RT, one half of its most recent OS releases, but could it really kill the desktop altogether in the future?

We want two states

Windows 8 and Windows RT are both divided into two separate interfaces: the tile-laden, mobile-style UI, and the more familiar-looking desktop.

But in Windows RT, the version present on the first batch of Microsoft's Surface tablets and other devices, the traditional desktop serves practically no purpose.

The desktop in full version of Windows 8 does function like you'd expect, but even there Microsoft seems to be making every effort to make the tile interface more prominent.

Now, according to Thurrott, Windows Blue is going to exacerbate that trend by giving the touch-friendly half of the OS more of the functionality that was previously reserved only for the desktop. But what does it mean?

High noon for the Windows desktop

With the Windows desktop becoming less and less prominent with every iteration of the OS, all signs point to future versions of Windows doing away with it entirely.

With the whole world going mobile, Microsoft may hope that a touch-based UI will be more intuitive to a wider range of users, and many probably won't mind giving up some control in exchange for greater ease of use.

No doubt other users will balk at the idea of giving up folders and file-level control over their Windows experiences, but they may be drowned out. At least we'll always have Linux (knock on wood).

There's no guarantee that Microsoft will kill the desktop by Windows 9, but it no longer seems as far-fetched as it would have several years ago.

And Microsoft will likely build in some functionality into the new Windows that would allow legacy applications to be at least somewhat easily installed.

As Computer World pointed out today, it wouldn't be the first time it had done so.

Check out the latest Windows Blue leak for more on the upcoming update.