The heir to Windows’ desktop dominion? Uh, no.

Since the very first reveal of Windows 8, some critics have called the operating system a fatal move for Microsoft. They call it a blunder so large in its abandonment of Windows’ heritage that it has created an opportunity for other operating systems to rise up and seize large portions of Windows’ customer base in the consumer and enterprise markets. Others see Windows 8 as a sign that Microsoft is grasping for relevance in a world where Windows and the PC itself are waning. In this view, the once-mighty “Wintel” platform is already dead—it just doesn’t know it yet.

Both sets of critics are wrong—or, at best, only half right. Windows 8 does create a huge opportunity for another desktop operating system to finally achieve total domination of the desktop and laptop markets, but that operating system is Windows 7. Sure, Windows 8 won’t take the crown itself. But it has a slew of features that at least make its next major revision the heir apparent, not just to the desktop world but to a much more complicated computing kingdom. Even if one argues that Windows 8 is a hot mess of a user experience, it’s still breaking the trail for what comes next.

But it is Windows 7 that will see the biggest effect from Windows 8, and not just because some may find Windows 8 jarring. It’s common in IT planning to run a generation behind, particularly on Microsoft products with long support lifecycles. Windows 7 will have extended support until January of 2020. Consumer sales can and will adjust accordingly. If Windows 8 becomes an impediment to consumer purchases, retailers and OEMs will opt for Windows 7.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab