No doubt, Windows 8 represents the biggest change to Microsoft’s operating system in the last 15 years, but it wasn’t until Windows 8.1 that things started to look smoother and more complete. However, it’s still not perfect. Moving forward, the software giant is gearing up to release yet another update, which is internally known as “Threshold”. This forthcoming update was supposed to be called “Windows 8.2”, but because of the slow adoption and the different problems, such as being complicated to use for some users and being a piece of software optimized for touch devices rather than keyboard and mouse. Microsoft is planning to address all these and other issues with Threshold, but in the process, it will fade out the Windows 8.x naming convention and jump straight to “Windows 10”.
As for new features, I previously wrote — before learning about the name change — Threshold (or Windows 10) is expected to bring back the Start menu, which happens to be yet another feature the company will be rolling back — as you may remember Windows 8.1 marked the return of the Start button too –. It’s unclear how Microsoft will integrate the new menu, but the rumor has it that it’ll be an additional option that users will be able to configure, and perhaps the new menu will look something like this incredible Start menu concept created by a self-taught UI designer.
In Windows 10, Microsoft will also focus on making the desktop environment what it used to be, the best computer experience using the keyboard and mouse. Furthermore, we now know that the software giant is preparing version 2.0 of Metro, which, among other things, will make the Windows 8 app float on the desktop in the same way traditional applications do today.
Today, we have some idea of what is to come, but the real questions are yet to be answered. For example, how about pricing? Will Windows 10 be a free upgrade? To answer the question lets go back in time, Microsoft defined Windows 8.1 as an update and not as an upgrade, because using the word “upgrade” would implicate a new charge. Now, with Windows 10, things are a bit more complicated because changing the name means that you’re getting a new version of the operating system, which, in theory, also means that we may have to pay again. However, the problem is that Windows 10 is a plan to fix Windows 8.x and move forward. As such, I really hope Microsoft notices that users deserve the best experience possible, and it would be the right thing to do to let current Windows 8.1 users upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
The other question is: how will users upgrade to Windows 10? From the Windows Store or Windows Update? For Windows 8.1, Microsoft released the bits through the Windows Store, but many users had a lot of issues getting the update from the Store. If you remember, many users didn’t see the message to update. Others had failed installations and various other inconveniences. Now, for Windows 8.1 Update 1, which is coming later this year, Microsoft will make it available via Windows Update, so it is unclear how the bits will be delivered.
Rumors about the project, which come from trusted sources familiar with it, say that Windows 10 is likely to be released to the public in April 2015 during the BUILD developer conference. But if the company treats Threshold as a new version, it’ll be odd to see a public release in April, when Microsoft is used to launching new versions of the operating system in October time frame.
It’s obvious that the original plan Microsoft had for its operating system didn’t work one hundred percent. Previously, the company said that Windows 8 was going to have many releases, and now, after one major update, the software giant is making the jump to Windows 10. So it seems the company is feeling pressure not only from customers but also from PC makers, many of whom blame Windows 8 for the slow sale of PCs.
Microsoft is expected to officially unveil Windows 10 and talk about changes and new features during the BUILD developer conference in April 2014. However, don’t expect any alpha or preview, as the company will start the Threshold development after the conference. The current information also suggests that Windows 10 will have three pre-releases before the final availability, which so far will be in April 2015.