The desktop is not the OS. It's an app

When everyone was in a panic about the announcement that JavaScript was pushed to be the preferred development tool for Windows 8 Metro apps, I said that as long as there is a desktop, traditional Win32 (or Win64) development will be a first class citizen, and that the Metro interface was the old concept of just the traditional “sidebar” apps (which have been developed in JavaScript for a while now), elevated to a new, more prominent status.

Well, it would appear I was wrong.

I was reading Paul Thurrott’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview: A Call For Common Sense and one point of his really stood out to me: “The desktop is not the OS. It’s an app.

He goes on to say . . .

The desktop is not the OS. In fact, while this isn’t technically true, conceptually, the desktop is just an app. The Windows 8 OS is comprised of Windows Runtime (WinRT), the Start screen shell and its Metro-style environment.

and . . .

For those many, many businesses that will rollout Windows 8 alongside Windows 7, the existing desktop environment looks and works almost exactly like its predecessor, and has no compatibility or long-term testing issues. That’s the goal for the Windows 8 desktop. All the exciting and new stuff is in Metro.

This really changes things. It means that the Desktop and traditional Windows programming has more in common with Windows XP mode on Windows 7 (running inside a virtual machine). I am not saying, nor have I heard anyone say, that the “Desktop” is running in a virtual machine, but the point is that the Desktop and traditional Windows programming is now officially “legacy”. In Windows 9 (or beyond), the Desktop may actually run in a virtual machine, or at least a sandbox.

Microsoft is replacing the familiar Windows API’s with WinRT, and this changes everything. Despite your opinions on JavaScript or .NET programming, they are now the preferred tools for developing on the Windows platform.