As expected, unnamed sources are now reporting that Microsoft will launch a preview of Windows 9 “Threshold” in early October 2014, or perhaps even in late September 2014. This release will be labeled as a “technology preview” and will require users to accept automatic monthly updates.
Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 9 “Threshold” to the masses in Spring 2015 and bring a set of improvements that should make life a bit easier for desktop customers. These include placing the Start Menu back where it belongs, windowed Modern UI apps on the desktop, virtual desktops, the removal of the charms bar and more. Heck, there’s even talk that Windows 9 may be free for those upgrading from Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.
Previous rumors indicated that the Windows 9 platform will load in two separate ways. If the customer has a touch screen or tablet, Windows will boot to the Start Screen. Otherwise, Windows will boot to the desktop when there is no touchscreen connected and a keyboard and mouse is detected.
Although the Start Menu will supposedly return to the taskbar, leaks of recent Windows 9 builds have shown that the Menu will be quite different, containing both familiar Windows 7-style links and Modern UI apps in one list on the left and a list of live tiles on the right. The main taskbar aligned at the bottom appears to be unchanged.
Just last week, we reported that Cortana will be integrated into Windows 9. However, in one of the current leaked builds, Cortana is a standalone app that customers click to open. Unlike the Windows Phone 8.1 version, this desktop app merely takes up around 25 percent of the screen and resides in the middle. Users can type out a question to the virtual assistant, or if a microphone is installed, verbally ask the question.
Will Microsoft launch more than one preview of Windows 9? As previously stated, the version making its debut in September/October is labeled as a “technology preview,” which will be open to the public to use. There may also be another “consumer preview” for the not-so-adventurous customer at the end of 2014. As a point of reference, Microsoft distributed three “milestones” before taking Windows 8 to retail: the developer preview (Sept. 2011), the consumer preview (Feb. 2012), and the RTM version (Aug. 2012).
Microsoft seems eager to distance itself from the original Windows 8. The launch of Windows 8.1 and Update (1) made a vast improvement for the desktop user and seems to have invigorated the PC market. We can’t wait to see what Windows 9 will officially bring.