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 where things started to look smoother and more complete, however it’s still no 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 9”.
As for new features, I previously wrote — before learning about the name change — Threshold (or Windows 9) 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, 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 self-taught UI designer.
In Windows 9, 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 the version 2.0 of Metro, which among other things, it will make 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 9 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 9, 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 pay again. However the problem is that Windows 9 is a plan to fix Windows 8.x and move forward, as such I really hope Microsoft notice 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 9 for free.
The other question is: how users will upgrade to Windows 9? 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 Store. If you remember many users weren’t seeing 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.
The rumors, which come from trusted sources familiar to the project, said that Windows 9 is likely to release 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 launch 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 9. So it seems the company is feeling the pressure from not only customers, but also from PC makers, many who blame Windows 8 for the slow sale of PCs.
Microsoft is expected to officially unveil Windows 9 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 9 will have three pre-releases before the final availability, which so far it will be in April 2015.