The Microsoft Windows edition formerly known as part of the "Threshold" wave of Windows releases will now be called Windows 9, and it will arrive in April 2015. It will allow users to make Metro apps into windowed applications on the Windows Desktop, restore the Start menu (or give us something like it or better), and in general backtrack on a lot of the foolish decisions Microsoft made with Windows 8.
But there may be a fly in the Windows 9 ointment: Microsoft hasn't yet started development of Windows 9, making an April 2015 debut ambitious, coming two and a half years after Windows 8's debut. However, Microsoft managed to release the well-liked Windows 7 two and a half years after the disastrous Windows Vista, so there's a precedent for that timeline.
At least, that's the direction for Windows that Paul Thurrott, a longtime Microsoft author and analyst,claims he's learned about the next major edition of Windows from Microsoft sources. Thurrott has a long track record of being a reliable source for Microsoft news, and his claims for Windows 9 have more credibility than most. ZDnet writer Mary Jo Foley, who also has deep sources at Microsoft, suggests that Thurrott's report is credible as well.
The good news is that the purported Windows 9 plan is very much in the spirit of InfoWorld's"Windows Red" proposed road map for Windows from spring 2013.
The first and most obvious change to Windows is the name, with Windows 9 being adopted "to distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle," Thurrott writes. That name shift signals a recognition at Microsoft that Windows 8 has not only been a sales failure -- only about 10 percent of PCs run it, according to StatCounter data, even though it debuted 18 months ago -- it's also hurt Microsoft's reputation at a time when iOS and Android are surging as alternative computing platforms. "Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public," Thurrott writes, so many of the changes due for Windows center around a strong rollback of most everything in Windows 8 that alienated existing users.
Second is the way the Metro UI design language for Windows 8 is being revised, with one widely rumored change being the ability for Metro apps to run in the Windows Desktop in their own windows so users don't have to switch back and forth between the two Windows operating environments. The Start menu is also rumored to be making a return, something Thurrottreported earlier.
What's most striking is that although Windows 9 is scheduled for release as early as April 2015 -- barely 15 months off -- Microsoft allegedly hasn't even started its development and won't do so until April 2014, Thurrott writes. That means there won't be any Windows pre-release versions to show at Microsoft's Build developer conference this spring.
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