Before Steve Jobs introduced the world to Apple’s first tablet — the iPad, Microsoft was working on something even more enticing. The software giant was developing a full-fledged operating system for touch interface. In fact, Microsoft was one of the earliest visionaries to see potential in tablets and touch devices. On October 26 2012, the Redmond giant released Windows 8. And this is where it all started.
The curious case of Windows 8
To put it blandly, Windows 8 wasn’t the kind of success Microsoft was anticipating for. People don’t like changes, especially if you shove them to their face and don’t give them any option to part ways with it. This wasn’t the first time Microsoft had made such big changes in its operating system. Back when Windows XP came out, for instance, Microsoft had provided users a way to switch back to Classic view of Windows 98, and change the looks of newly introduced Start menu. But with Windows 8, Microsoft changed many of its unstated policies.
Microsoft put so much emphasis on touch and swipe that they made the operating system pretty hostile for desktop users— people who use keyboards and mouse. There was a separate Desktop mode, but the amount of wonky one had to face to get and stay there was making people switch back to Windows 7, in fact, even Windows Vista registered some surge in its market share.
Windows 8.1 – Almost Windows 8 but better
But soon when Microsoft realized that no matter what you tell people, they aren’t switching to Windows 8, within 12 months, they ended their own three-year-upgrade policy. Lo and behold, the world witnessed yet another Windows operating system: Windows 8.1. With 8.1, Microsoft brought back the missing Start button, made its integration with SkyDrive better, added support for 3d printing and P2P WiFi direct. In a nutshell, Microsoft made Windows 8 better.
Windows 8.1 fixed many of the mess that its predecessor had created. According to latest reports, for the first time ever Windows 8 and 8.1 are constituting 10.5% of all desktop computers across the globe. But despite constant warnings, Windows XP still boots 29% of the computers, and Windows 7 is still going strong with 47%. And that’s what Microsoft’s real problem is now. They need to make something that will make people switch forward from the aforementioned operating system(s).
So what’s next for Microsoft’s desktop operating system? There are too many rumors, concept videos, leaks, demands, speculations and expectations circling around Microsoft’s next operating system. Without further ado, let’s see what changes and new features we can see in Windows Update 1 and “Threshold”, aka, Windows 9.
Windows 8.1 Update 1
Also known as ‘Spring update’ this update is expected to arrive at or after Microsoft’s BUILD Developer Conference 2014 – which is to be held at San Francisco from April 2-4.
Expecting it to come with a plethora of new features will be a wrong approach to look at it, because Microsoft will be saving such things for its upcoming operating system, Windows 9.
Update 1 follows similar moniker system as of Windows Phone, and this could be because Terry Myerson who used to take care of Windows Phone wing is now in charge of Windows and Xbox operating systems.
Just last week, a leaked photo of Windows 8.1 Update 1 surfaced on the web and revealed a few things about it. It welcomes a ‘power user menu‘, which looks like a contextual start menu. From the screenshot it looks pretty much like the hidden Start menu that comes along with Windows 8 and 8.1 which we talked in brief in our secret features of Windows OS article.
It is also being speculated that this update will be made available on the site as a ‘Windows update’ for anyone to download, instead of grabbing it from the Windows Store. Which really does make things more convenient for many users. The description in the leaked post suggests that ‘Windows 8.1 Update 1′ won’t be a ‘Service pack’ update. This means that post-update, all OEMs will be coupling their hardware with this updated version of Windows. Other than that, since it is essentially an update, Microsoft won’t be charging anything for it.
Windows “Threshold” aka Windows 9
There are numerous reports confirming that Microsoft’s next operating system – Windows 9 will be releasing in April 2015. Codenamed as “Threshold”, Windows 9 faces a lot of innovative and functional challenges. Microsoft delivered Windows 8.1 after the mayhem caused by Windows 8. The new operating system gained much deserved appraisal from critics and users worldwide. But what’s next for Redmond giant? With Windows 9, Microsoft will be aiming at polishing some of its features.
Some of the things that you could expect to see in Windows 9 are as follows:
Return of the start menu
Rumor has it that in order to bridge the gap between the desktop mode and metro mode (modern UI), Microsoft will finally bring back a custom version of Start menu.
Three different versions of Windows
Microsoft watcher, Mary Jo Foley, believes that Microsoft will release not one, but three different versions of Windows 9. Although I find this very unlikely to happen, Foley’s idea is worth considering.
According to her, there will be a desktop version—for desktop users, a Metro-style version for—which will focus on apps for tablets, and the third, which will supposedly merge Windows Phone and Windows RT to work across tablets.
In addition, we can also look forward to seeing improvements in Metro design. Another issue that Microsoft faces right now is the lack of separate Desktop and Metro apps. Internet Explorer is a great example, it has both desktop and Metro versions separately available.