Microsoft may be using the Windows 10 name for its upcoming software for smartphones, tablets, notebooks, desktops, and even the Xbox One. But not all versions of Windows 10 are created equal.
For instance if you run Windows 10 on a tablet with an 8 inch or larger screen you’ll be able to run both touch-friendly, tablet-style apps and also classic desktop Windows apps. But on smaller tablets or smartphones there will be no desktop mode.
There are some exceptions: if you’ve already purchased a 7 inch Windows tablet like the HP Stream 7 or Toshiba Encore Mini, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore says you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 while retaining the ability to run desktop apps.
But if you buy a new device that ships with Windows 10 and you want access to the desktop, you’ll want to opt for a model with an 8 inch or larger screen.
Interestingly, Microsoft seems to be suggesting that the deciding factor for which devices run Windows 10 and which run Windows 10 for Mobile is screen size, and not the processor architecture.
That means Windows 10 for Mobile will likely run on smartphones with ARM-based processors and also on 7 inch tablets with ARM or Intel chips (and possibly on smartphones with Intel chips as well, although it’s not clear if any company is working on Windows Phones with Intel processors).
One of the main things that sets today’s Windows 8.1 tablets apart from tablets running Android or iOS is support for full desktop-style applications. Sure, it can be difficult to view and interact with apps on an 8 inch screen when they were designed for laptop or desktop-sized displays. But it’s nice to have the option… especially if you want to connect an external display to your tablet and treat it like a portable desktop PC.
It looks like you’ll still be able to do that with Windows 10 tablets… as long as they have 8 inch or larger displays.