Why is Apple in a bind? They have one of the biggest profit margins of any company in the world. Which is a bigger problem? Having to support two highly successful but different products, or to pretend those two products are the same thing and destroy the user experience on one to reduce your support costs?
That said, I don't believe you can't create a desktop experience with applications shared with the mobile platform.
About two years ago Microsoft figured out what all us regular schmucks are just figuring out now. iPhone and Android have already won the market. Apple is now saying "oh sh*t" because they used a technology that creates binary files that are not compatible across different hardware architectures, whereas Google forced all Android users to produce bytecode because they knew that JIT code would run as-is on a desktop with ANY processor in it. Soon you will see a viable Android desktop that runs all the mobile applications as-is. This Chrome OS balloney is just Google's way of preping the hardware and getting the channels in place before they take over the world. Apple figure this strategy out too, and thats why you see them scrambling to figure out if they can use ARM processors in their desktop.
As for Windows 8. Well, that's just a desperate attempt to stop what is now inevitable.