China's own operating system could be ready by October
After banning Microsoft's Windows 8 software for use on government PCs, China is now reportedly planning to cook up its own operating system. The home brewed OS could see a launch as early as October, and it would have the full backing of the Chinese government. China's motivation in building an OS of its own is to alleviate concerns that imported software from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Apple could have spying mechanisms built into the code base.
With Windows 9 (Threshold) rumored for an introduction next month along with a Release Preview for consumers and developers alike, it's safe to say that the Windows 8 era is winding down, though some would argue it never truly began (market share figures would back that argument). So, what do you do if you're an OEM looking to pick up sales for the back to school season? Well, if you're HP, you promote Windows 7 and offer shoppers an enticing discount.
Microsoft is planning a technology preview of Threshold next month
Now that Microsoft is no longer bothering itself with major updates for Windows 8.1, the company can switch focus to its next operating system codenamed "Threshold," or Windows 9 if you think Microsoft will keep the numbering scheme going. What will Windows 9 bring to the table? If that's a question you'd like answered, stay tuned -- Microsoft is reportedly planning a "technology preview" of Windows 9 either late next month or early October.
It's only a matter of time before we see how much Microsoft learned fom Windows 8/8.1 and the feedback it received from users. Windows 9, otherwise known as Threshold, will usher in a new era of Windows, and early indications point to a different design philosophy than the one that drew criticism in the current version of Windows. For example, one of the rumors floating around is that Windows 9 will get rid of the Charms Bar.
Not much has happened in the Windows space this summer, though what little movement there's been indicates that users are still trending more towards Windows 7 than Windows 8/8.1. The combined share of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 in July was 12.48 percent, down a sliver from 12.54 percent in June and 12.64 percent in May. All of those figures are up slightly from the 12.24 percent share Window 8/8.1 held in April when support for XP ended, but nothing to brag about.
The cat is out of the bag -- Microsoft will soon release its first update for Windows Phone 8.1, and with it will come support for folders, the company revealed in a post intended for developers. As you can already do on the latest versions of Android and iOS, you'll soon be able to drag Tiles on top of each other on your Windows Phone handset to create a folder for organizing your applications.
Microsoft chief Satya Nadella caused a whirlwind of headlines and speculation with a comment he made during his company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call. The way he worded some early rhetoric made it sound like the next version of Windows -- codenamed Threshold and likely to be called Windows 9 -- will ship with but a single SKU rather than multiple versions for smartphones, desktops, gaming consoles, and so forth. However, Nadella wasn't talking about a single OS to rule them all.
The final major update for Windows 8.1 is said to arrive on Patch Tuesday in August
Mark your calenders, folks, and be sure to use pencil instead of ink (unless it's erasable ink) -- a Russian website is reporting that Microsoft will release Windows 8.1 Update 2 on August 12, which is also next month's Patch Tuesday date. This is expected to be the last major update for Windows 8.1 before Microsoft switches gears to Windows 9, or Threshold as it's also been referred to.
More affordable Windows tablets could be on the horizon
Here's a bit of potentially good news for Microsoft's hardware partners. Word on the web is that Microsoft may expand its free Windows license program to include tablets priced below $250. Up until now, tablets less than 9 inches qualified for the subsidized pricing, though unconfirmed reports suggest the program will cast a wider net in order to get more Windows-based tablets out in the wild.
Microsoft updates end of support deadlines for various software
Now that we're well into July, Microsoft felt it was a good time to update its list of products reaching end of support in the next 6 months. One entry that's gaining a lot of media attention is Windows 7. According to the list, Mainstream Support for several versions of Windows 7 will end on January 13, 2015, though that doesn't mean you need to rush out and grab a copy of Windows 8. Here's why.