Windows 9 announcement expected in April

15th January 2014

Microsoft keen to put Windows 8 in the rearview mirror

Microsoft will announce its next version of Windows at the BUILD developer conference in April 2014 with a view to rolling it out from April 2015, according to Windows blogger Paul Thurrott.

In a blog post on his website, Thurrott says that ‘Threshold’, the current codename of the software version, will see the Start menu return to Windows and will have the ability to run Metro-style apps on the desktop. The Windows 9 moniker, he says, will be bestowed upon the software in part as a means to distance it from Windows 8.

“Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment,” said Thurrott in a blog post. “That’s a disaster, and Threshold needs to strike a better balance between meeting the needs of over a billion traditional PC users while enticing users to adopt this new Windows on new types of personal computing devices.”

There’s no doubt that the radical departure in design and interface of Windows 8 has contributed to a lack of adoption. The move towards a tiled start screen was part of Microsoft’s attempt to unify the Windows experience across different devices. That may have proved too radical a change for everyday users and businesses alike, but a lesser mooted point is that the popularity of Windows 7 may also be a factor.

That wouldn’t be unprecedented. Windows XP remained the dominant version of Windows for long after it had been replaced by Vista and one wonders if Microsoft actually uses every other release as a means of trialling more radical approaches for Windows. Most consumers probably aren’t too fussed about updating their operating system every three years, as per Microsoft’s release schedule. Every six years is arguably more realistic.

As well as the Windows 9 naming and date info, Thurrott made a number of other predictions:

  • Microsoft will use BUILD to provide its first major “vision” announcement for Windows since Longhorn in 2003.
  • Maturing and fixing the “Metro” design language used by Windows will be a major focus area of Threshold.
  • Microsoft expects to deliver three milestone releases of “Threshold” before its final release.

Any discussion of a “vision” for Windows will likely be aimed at reassuring Windows users following the lack of enthusiasm surrounding Windows 8. A focus on addressing design and the release of three pre-launch versions would also suggest that Microsoft is keen to take on board and act upon user feedback.

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