As Microsoft prepares to finish up Windows 8 for its "Release to Manufacturing" build (reportedly sometime in mid-July), the research firm Gartner predicts in a new press release today that the launch of Windows 8 later this year is the end of Microsoft's WinNT programming model and the beginning of the WinRT (Windows Runtime) model (not to be confused with Windows RT, otherwise known as WOA).
While most Windows users will continue to run applications based on Win32 for a number of years, that will slowly change as Microsoft moves to WinRT. Steve Kleynhans, vice president for client and mobile computing for Gartner, says:
Windows 8 is more than a major upgrade to Windows — it's a technology shift. We don't see technology shifts too often; the only other one Microsoft's client OS has gone through was the move from DOS technology to Windows NT technology, which began in 1993 and took eight years, ending with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001.
Gartner believes that by the year 2020, enterprise users of Windows, along with consumers, will spend less than 10 percent of their time on Win32 desktop apps. By that time, most users will be working on WinRT-based apps running on Microsoft's Metro interface. Gartner adds, "Eventually, most Win32 desktop applications are likely to be run using server-based computing (SBC) or from hosted virtual desktops."