While the desktop tile in Windows RT 8.1 is not visible by default, it can be enabled as seen here.
Microsoft is slowly moving away from the traditional desktop interface with the release of the Windows RT 8.1 update. The company has now confirmed that the desktop tile on the operating system's Start screen has been taken away by default, unlike in Windows RT, where it was immediately available.
According to Winsupersite, that means when people purchase new Windows RT 8.1 hardware products, they will have to enable the desktop Start tile as an extra step if they wish to access it regularly. This apparently applies to Microsoft's Surface 2 tablet as well as the upcoming Nokia Lumia 2520.
The desktop UI is still needed to run the Office RT 2013 Home and Student software, which is included for free on both tablets. Microsoft includes tiles for each of the Office programs on the Start screen by default, and these launch their respective programs on the desktop as normal.
This minor but meaningful change shows that Microsoft is likely looking forward to a future where the desktop environment will be done away with completely in upcoming editions of Windows, at least for mobile devices such as tablets. There will still be a need to support desktop apps for several years so that transition is still in the very early phases. Indeed, in an interview earlier this summer, Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steven Guggenheimer said, " ... it probably never goes away completely. Or if it does, it’s hard to predict when."