I keep seeing these two categories of software package on the ESRI site but nothing making it clear the difference between what ArcGIS Desktop is vs. ArcGIS For Desktop. I use ArcGIS Desktop (i think) that has ArcMap, ArcCatalog, etc. what does ArcGIS For Desktop have that is different?
They are the same product i.e. there is no difference.
My recollection is that when launched in 1999 what today is known as ArcGIS Desktop 10.6 was known simply as ArcGIS 8.0.
Later, maybe at 9.0, and certainly around the time ArcGIS Server was launched it was renamed to be called ArcGIS Desktop.
Then at 10.1 (I think) the name was changed to ArcGIS for Desktop, and at then at 10.5 it was changed back to ArcGIS Desktop.
To track some of these name changes look at the titles of these help pages from 10.0 and its six dot releases:
- Geodatabase connections in ArcGIS Desktop (from 10.0)
- Database connections in ArcGIS for Desktop (from 10.1)
- Database connections in ArcGIS for Desktop (from 10.2)
- ArcGIS 10.3.1 for Desktop quick start guide
- ArcGIS 10.4.1 for Desktop quick start guide
- ArcGIS Desktop 10.5.1 quick start guide
- ArcGIS Desktop 10.6 quick start guide