After having used Windows 8 for the past couple of weeks, I've come to a realization. The applications in the windows 8 store are quite different from the normal types of windows applications. The applications are based on a hybrid of web and Microsoft technologies, and contain content. These sorts of applications are distinctly different from the sort of applications that we were used to on windows (or Linux/Mac OS
X). For the first time, we have content based applications originally made popular on the iPad and iPhone brought to the desktop.
I don't see any other desktop operating system that has this sort of eco-system. Mac OS X applications are of the old school variety. If you want content (games, magazines, etc.) you either visit a website with a web browser, or download an iPad/iPhone application. Maybe that's why so many people carry a laptop and an iPad.
On Linux, there are various different types of desktop environments. GNOME, XFCE, LXDE, Ubuntu Unity are the more traditional variety desktops. KDE's plasma is the closest I've seen to an open source app type environment, but I just don't find the interface user friendly.
Using Windows 8 not only made me realize the difference between apps and applications, but that apps bring around a different sort of functionality. For instance, Flipboard for iOS brings about a news reading experience that no news reader on the desktop can match. Same for the nytimes app. Windows 8 is the first environment that lets you do both traditional and new style "app"lications on the same device.
Question is, do people still need the functionality contained in the old style applications? Mobile and tablet sales numbers seem to say that the consumer world doesn't. There is still a need in the business world for the old style applications, but for how long?