Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, head of the Windows product definition and design team, has confirmed that Windows 10 devices with screens smaller than 8 inches won't have the traditional desktop, ending speculation that small tablets may be stuck with the old interface.
In a comment on Twitter, Belfiore said the desktop will be solely for devices with 8-inch and larger screens, while devices with screens smaller than 8 inches (such as phones, phablets and small tablets) will lack the desktop. Traditional Windows applications will work on the larger devices, while the smaller devices will presumably be limited to Metro-style apps.
The confirmation comes after Microsoft told Neowin that Windows 10 would come to small ARM tablets with displays of up to 8 inches. Belfiore's comments also clear up any confusion about whether the desktop would remain on ARM devices, which can't run traditional Windows applications.
Since ARM devices won't exceed 8 inches, it means they won't have the desktop. ARM processors couldn't run traditional Windows applications regardless, unless the software was recompiled or written for the low-power chips.
Notably, the decision means Microsoft won't be rehashing the mistakes of its first two Surface tablets, which ran on ARM processors with Windows RT. While the hardware of the tablets was typically either considered acceptable or praised, many reviews took issue with the inclusion of the desktop, which could only run pre-installed basic Windows applications and Microsoft's Office suite, as well as the transition from the new Metro interface to the desktop.
Update: Belfiore has further clarified his statement and said that existing devices with screens smaller than 8 inches will get to update to the version of Windows 10 with the desktop.
Source: Joe Belfiore (Twitter)