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Technical disccussion regarding Desktop on Windows 8, it is always active.

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On the post of Surface 2 closer look, there is a thread arguing over how the exclusion of the Desktop could be performance benefitting to the machine. I would like to clear up few points here to make our understanding better, or even better to me, I would like to be feedback if I am of any wrong.

First point is that the desktop is constantly takes up a portion of CPU time/RAM, however, there were few comments disagree with that and they managed to gain more than 10 recommends so far:

If you opened the desktop, you can Swipe Down and close it. This will enable the inactive mode for the desktop which hardly takes much RAM away from your other tasks.

sorry, but a big feature of 8 was the desktop code doesn’t even run until you "start" the program. Its frozen in the Ram, much like Apples multitasking. No CPU power is used. Roger is right on this one.

The confusion is quite wide-spread as well, even my evangelist instructor does not exactly know this issue clearly. So how is it like. I want to tell you that THE DESKTOP IS ALWAYS ACTIVE. Here's why:

  1. The desktop shell is a component of Windows NT 6.2 (Windows 8/Windows RT) and Windows NT 6.3 (Windows 8.1/Windows RT 8.1) excluding Windows Phone versions. It is NOT an app. Therefore, as far as Windows runs or active, the desktop runs or active.
  2. Inspecting RAM and CPU time through an VM (as in Task Manager can be inaccurate) shows: swiping down the desktop (closing it) reduces indistinguishable amount of RAM load (less than 100KB, hell, who knows what did they save), while have no proof of reduction of CPU can be related to the swiping down desktop, as the legacy environment programs keep maintaining CPU usage. Hence, no tombstoning towards desktop.
  3. Startup programs ALWAYS startup at the same time with Windows (hence the debunk of the second quoted comment), Skype, Adobe Updater on Windows 8 for x86. VBS scripts, Registry tweaks, signed startup programs (internal stuffs, don't ask), unsigned startup programs (old RT "jailbreaks") confirms this on Windows RT/RT 8.1.
  4. Startup programs show zero cosmetic change when you start up (does not jump to the desktop when it runs), but it DOES take up RAM and CPU load on inspection.
  5. Microsoft have never stated such "big feature".

Please correct me if I am of any wrong. In a nutshell, the desktop is (additionally) taking away your precious battery life as long as Windows is running.

Secondly, the exclusion of Desktop saves space:

This is entirely true. Stripping off the Desktop GUI shell helps saving "a lot" of space. I'm estimating 1-2GB. Personally it's not that much, and there's so much thing we can only access from the desktop (device managements/regedit).

But personally, Microsoft is not excluding the desktop out of RT, ever. Desktop (whether it is on RT or on x86) will become CMD-esque addition. Welcome addition but barely anyone use. The prevalence of desktop on RT in marketing currently is because of Office, nothing more.

Furthermore, Windows RT is an almost exact port of Windows 8 to ARM, with only the difference I have seen so far is the signed apps enforcements. Group Policy, Domain access, Remote Access hosting and many other DISABLED functions STILL EXIST in code, and you have to do regedit if you want to make it happen. Microsoft just doesn't want the RT to be handled in an ancient minds of computing (My dad and my IT department first tried to PARTITION the storage on their Surface RTs. Jesus), or letting those function harms the battery life. It will save them a lot of money or time keep doing it this way.

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