Re: 'A Microsoft spokesperson refused to tell us what was actually arriving in the Spring release'
I asked our local friendly Microsoft rep about this statement, apparently 'Mobile First' refers to mobile computing, rather than phones
I don't think so. Laptops are functionally like desktops, from an OS perspective, and that's where Microsoft has always been (on desktops and laptops). There would be no need for a "mobile first, cloud first" slogan if they were talking about what they had always been doing. Clearly, Nadella intended for that phrase to indicate the new direction of Microsoft, not the old one.
That is, of course, unless you believe that the phone UI grafted onto Windows in its last two versions means something other than what we all interpreted "mobile first" to mean. When Windows on the PC looks like a mobile phone OS and the CEO is telling us they're mobile first now, I don't think "he must be talking about laptops, like the ones I have been using since the Win2k era."
I like laptops. I have a couple of them. I'm using one now to write this. They're not my only tools, though; I have desktops too, and they each have their role within my electronic hierarchy. This laptop I'm on now is only a few months old, but I have its OS (Linux Mint) set up exactly as I do on my main desktop. Why would I need anything with the OS or the UI to be different? I'm still the same individual with the same usage patterns, preferences, and workflow.
Certainly, the laptop has has more power saving features than my desktops, but it runs the same programs as my desktop. The laptop's user input devices consist of a hardware keyboard and non-touchscreen pointing device, like on my desktop. The display is smaller on my laptop, of course, but it's still larger than an iPad, and way larger than a phone, and it doesn't need the oversize controls that work best with big fleshy fingers on a touchscreen.
In other words, I still have no need or desire for the inane phone UI even though it is a laptop. It's not a touchscreen, which was intentional on my part when I selected the unit. I don't need or want a touchscreen on a laptop! A touchscreen is necessary for handheld devices where a mouse or keyboard is impractical, but it's redundant on a laptop that already has a real keyboard and a touchpad. Most of the people I've communicated with who use convertible 2 in 1 units say they seldom or never use the touchscreen when the display is snapped to the base, and I wouldn't either. It's just too tiring to be holding my arm out to touch the laptop screen! I can use a touchpad for hours (I find the older ones with the dedicated buttons to be better, but I am adapting to the annoyances of the clickpad on my cheap new laptop), and a real mouse is even better.
Ergonomically, a touchscreen is just too hard on the old arm muscles to use for more than a short while when the screen is in a fixed upright position (as it is in a laptop or desktop). The mouse or touchpad allows you to easily hit targets of only a few pixels, enabling better user interfaces that don't have to have kludges like disappearing UI elements or hamburger menus. The separate point and click actions on a mouse or a touchpad also allow hover effects that simplify and accelerate a lot of things people tend to take for granted. They're not new or trendy, but mice and touchpads are just better for nearly everything for which people use laptops.
With that in mind, it makes little sense to throw away the UI advantages of an interface designed around the mouse and to saddle it with the same old compromises as are necessary on touchscreen devices. If laptops are what Microsoft meant by "mobile first," the UI of Windows 10 is still just as ill-suited to that use as it is on desktops.