"It wouldn't be right to call it Windows 9" - Microsoft
You're probably familiar with the argument, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Well, Juliet may not have cared about the name of things, but Microsoft does, which is why you'll never see a Windows 9. Instead, Microsoft today skipped a number and announced Windows 10, the OS formerly known as Threshold and the successor to Windows 8/8.1.
If we're being totally, completely, 100 percent honest, we settled for Windows 8. That's not easy to admit, especially after applying some well needed Updates (previously known as Service Packs) that zapped some of our original complaints. Don't get us wrong, it never was, nor is it still a terrible operating system -- the comparisons to Windows ME or even Windows Vista's early days are off base -- but certainly Microsoft didn't have our best interests in mind. By "our interests," we're talking about power users, enthusiasts, and generally anyone tech savvy enough to know the difference between RAM and a hard drive. Hell, Windows 8 designer Jacob Miller admitted as much several months ago (Microsoft's good at coming clean after the fact).
Truth be told, Microsoft catered to the lowest common denominator -- the ones who call you up every 3-4 weeks because their PC is riddled with pop-up ads again -- and attempted to hold their hands as Redmond walked them through its vision of what would one day become a beautiful walled garden where new and experienced users frolicked happily among the colorful tiles singing songs of praise. Our apologies if you just threw up in your mouth a little bit.
Here's the thing -- we've grown accustomed to Windows 8, and having spent copious time with it, we no longer feel the rage we once did every time the Start screen would load. That's partially because we're now able to boot directly into the Desktop, but the bigger reason is the one we stated above. We settled, plain and simple.
With that said, Windows 9 is on the horizon, and this is Microsoft's chance to atone for Windows 8 and earn back some street cred with power users. It's a do-over, and no, it's not too late. If Windows 9 comes out and blows our minds with levels of awesome we've never seen before, all will be forgiven (just as we've done before). But in order for that to happen, Microsoft has to get it right.
That's no easy task, so to help our friends at Microsoft, we came up with a list of 9 things we want to see in Windows 9. Are you reading this, Redmond? Good, because these 9 wishlist items conveniently assembled into a photo gallery collectively represent your golden ticket back into our good graces. Hit the jump to see what they are.
These are the screenshots we've been waiting to see
Yes folks, it looks like the Start Menu is indeed making a long overdue comeback in Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold). A German-language website posted a bunch of screenshots of the Windows 9 Technical Preview that's due out either later this month or in early October, according to previous rumors. One of those screenshots shows the Start Menu as it will appear on the Desktop.
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.
As Kenny Rogers famously advised a legion of country music fans, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, known when to run." Microsoft isn't quite to the point of running away from Windows 8, though it is ready to walk away from putting time and resources into major updates. There will be no Windows 8.1 Update 2, which seemingly suggests Microsoft is now looking ahead to Windows 9.
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.
Build 6.4.9788 was recently spotted in Windows Store logs
We’ve known about the Start Menu’s impending comeback for over two months now. Ever since the return of what is perhaps the most iconic Windows UI item to have been left out of Windows 8 was announced by the Redmond-based company in April, there has a been a lot of speculation about the time of its comeback. If some recent reports are to be believed, it’s more likely to come back with the Windows 9 “Threshold” update than the less significant Windows 8.1 Update 2.
Microsoft is reportedly aiming to win back its core desktop audience with the release of Windows Threshold next year. These are the same users clinging to Windows XP and Windows 7, or perhaps even made the jump to Linux in order to avoid Windows 8/8.1. Microsoft has a chance to atone for the usability mistakes it made in Windows 8/8.1 with Windows 9, and you can expect a whole bunch of new features aimed at desktop users.
Don't hold your breath waiting for the return of the Start menu
Microsoft did Windows users a solid by bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1, but has stubbornly refused to give back the Start menu for those who want it. Last we heard, the Start Menu would indeed make a comeback, the question is when, and the answer might not be with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8.1 Update 2 -- instead, the Start menu may not make a comeback until Windows 9.
Different reports point to different release schedules
Speaking at last year’s Build conference, then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated that moving to a rapid release cadence was “fundamental to what we’re doing, and what we must to do to mobilize our ecosystem and our partners.” Since that proclamation, we’ve already seen the company release two updates (albeit of varying significance), and a third, presumably called Windows 8.1 Update 2, is rumored for release later this year. But what about next year?