Windows CE was a disaster because the desktop was the wrong GUI paradigm for a small touch screen device (basically the opposite problem of what people are complaining about now). Apple's Newton GUI (a grid of icons each of which launch into a full-screen app with big, easy to hit touch elements) was the right paradigm. It was the basis for iOS. Microsoft is not playing 'catch up' with iOS. It is obvious from WP7/8 that it is very much going its own way --and doing so very well. The problem is that people are used to iOS and the iOS-alike Android (in fact, most muggles couldn't tell you the difference) and they don't like change, so WP8 has a job ahead of itself. But everyone who has actually tried WP7/8 --even Apple users-- praise its inventiveness and sheer usability of the paradigm. As Steve Jobs once said: the user does not know what he wants until he gets it. Microsoft doesn't focus on a desktop-only GUI because it has learned from Windows CE that this is not a useful GUI for anything else but desktop and laptop PCs, and that is a shrinking market (even for Apple) while mobile touch devices are a growing one. It has to come up with something that works on ALL the devices, and integrates seamlessly so that it can just be as you say: desktop for the heavy lifting, mobile devices as thin clients and storage in and syncing via the cloud. Linux is going the same way. Remember the outcry when the touch-friendlier Ubuntu Unity was released? Mark Shuttleworth said: ‘We Didn’t Want Ubuntu To End up Like Windows 8′. Ironically it did just that: People did not like the change at all. But they are starting to embrace it. Now Ubuntu Touch is underway --like Windows 8 one OS for all devices, albeit attempting somewhat different solutions. If it works, well, competition is good for the user. Apple OSX is also starting to incorporate features of iOS. Again, users don't like it at all. Steve Jobs was right. Like him or loathe him, the guy was a visionary who understand how people use computers.