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8/18/2014
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Windows 'Threshold': 7 Things To Expect

Microsoft will reportedly release its next version of Windows as a public preview by this fall. Here's what we know about the next version of Windows.

Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft teased the next version of Windows back in April, but since then, company reps have been tight-lipped. Even so, the Microsoft rumor mill has been ratcheting up in recent weeks, with the latest reports claiming a public preview of the OS could be released by this fall, ahead of an official launch in 2015.

The preview should arrive by late September or early October, according to a report by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, who cited unnamed sources and has accurately reported pre-release Microsoft information in the past. This claim adds to a variety of earlier reports, all based on anonymous sources, that indicate Microsoft will retreat from some of Windows 8 and 8.1's most controversial changes.

Will the new version, which is codenamed "Threshold" and could hit the market as "Windows 9," help Microsoft erase Win 8 criticisms, just as it once appeased Windows Vista detractors with Windows 7? Here are seven things to expect from the next version of Windows.

1. Threshold preview will be available to everyone.
With past product previews, Microsoft often moved in waves, releasing limited technical previews that were sometimes invitation-only, and then moving to previews for consumers. In the case of Threshold, the fall preview will reportedly be open to everyone who is interested.

2. The Windows interface won't be the same on all devices.
Windows 8 ran afoul of many users because it attempted to shoehorn both a tablet and desktop UI into the same package. Threshold, on the other hand, will detect the kind of device on which it's running and automatically load the proper UI. PCs and laptops will reportedly boot to the desktop. Tablets, on the other hand, will boot directly to the tiled Start screen. Hybrid devices such as the Surface Pro 3 will allegedly be able to jump between UIs, somewhat like users can do today in Windows 8 and 8.1.

3. The Start menu is coming back, but with some new tricks.
Much to the dismay of many users, neither Windows 8 nor 8.1 includes a Start menu. Microsoft confirmed in April, however, that the next version of Windows would rectify this omission. The Threshold Start menu won't be quite the same as the ones in earlier versions, however; it will also feature Modern UI elements, such as Live Tiles.

The revamped Start menu Microsoft teased in April.
The revamped Start menu Microsoft teased in April.

Microsoft reps haven't explained what this change might mean for the Start menu's functionality, though some rumors indicate the feature will be fairly customizable. Microsoft has confirmed, however, that the next version of Windows will allow users to run Modern apps on the desktop in floating windows, just like they can with legacy software. In Windows 8 and 8.1, Modern apps can launch only into full-screen mode.

4. Threshold will not include a Charms Bar.
In Windows 8, Microsoft bundled many common resources, such as search tools and system settings, under the Charms Bar, which remains hidden until

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Some Guy
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Some Guy,
User Rank: Strategist
8/20/2014 | 2:51:32 PM
Even Win 7 Upgrade for FREE may not be enough incentive
A free upgrade from Win 7 would certainly help, although that may still not be enough. Most of the XP reluctance to upgrade has more to do with the organizational or embedded design costs of validating the systems and all the other software that had to be migrated than the OS cost.

A couple of other issues. 1) Hard to think that the Microsoft Board of Directors and shareholders would be OK with leaving a lot of money on the table, either. 2) Given the trend to consume more compute cycles with every iteration of Windows, the Win 7 HW may not be able to run Threshold. For example, 2-point touch from the 2010 era, although compatible with Win 8/8.1 is pretty clunky. No universal TPM from that era really needs a solution even if it's a USB dongle they brand and sell separately. Will my 2010 Dell Duo 1090 with 2-point touch and single-core Atom really work with Threshold? Would Microsoft even want crippled instances of legacy HW trying bravely to run Threshold even out there?

Finally, I was really happy with how Microsoft rolled out Win 8. They still need to fix the basic Windows touch so that you can reliably do such simple things as close windows and start text entry with your finger -- THE FIRST TIME. (HINT: make the icons bigger, or at least give me a choice to in Control Panel.) They need to do as great a job as they did with the Upgrade Evaluation Tool. And having the $30 upgrade like they did from Win 7 to Win 8 Pro for the 1st 3 months is a good idea to repeat; maybe this time without the sour taste of dropping Windows Media Center.
Lord_Beavis
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Lord_Beavis,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2014 | 12:35:35 PM
Re: Free Windows (as in free beer)?
I don't know how, but I totally missed that story yesterday... Must have been because of all the crap Windows systems I was having to support.

 

For now, it is only a thought.  But I smell a schill in the Munich Gov.  Gonna have to check to see who recently has come into postition their and who their backer is.

 

Maybe MS will pull their head out and the next version wont be the unmitigated disaster taht Windows 8 is.

 

Otherwise, I will have to use my powers for evil and start breaking Windows OS.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
8/20/2014 | 7:01:43 AM
Start menu?
Based on the image the new start menu will not provide for a hierarchical menu system that allows for properly organizing and quickly accessing many entries. If this how it will pan out it will remain an epic fail. Give us the REAL start menu back so that we do not have to fix every Windows install with ClassicShell.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
8/20/2014 | 2:22:37 AM
Re: Windows Threshold
What's missing here? What else would you like in Windows Threshold, readers?

It's not as much as what I'd like to see in Threshold, although Cortana, the Start Menu and free are a given, but to be able to install it in old computers without the NX requirement. I believe many people are in that position.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 1:38:45 AM
Re: Windows Threshold
I've been assuming Microsoft will make it free for Windows 8 users. They indicated at Build that Windows 8 users would get the Start menu in a future update. Since the Start menu is now evidently part of Windows 9, they sort of have to give it away in order to avoid going back on their word. The more interesting possibility is that they'll make it free for Windows 7 users too. I think it would be the right call. Apple has basically already done the same thing, and Microsoft really needs to avoid repeating the ongoing Windows XP fiasco when Windows 7 reaches its EOL deadline.


I think Microsoft realizes it can't make money from OSes the way it used to. I've heard a few references to a possible Windows as a Service offering, for example, which would be a step in a new direction, and one that a few analysts have told me is inevitable.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 1:31:15 AM
Re: Free Windows (as in free beer)?
This doesn't necessarily negate all of your points, but Munich is now considering dropping Linux and moving to Windows.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 1:29:32 AM
Re: Windows Threshold
+1

All the major mobile platforms have embraced the flat aesthetic to some extent, but the Modern UI is my least favorite. Not that it's bad, per se-- but "too flat" is one of the problems. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 both let you create some depth with backgrounds in ways that their predecessors did not, so hopefully "Threshold" will perfect it further.
Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
8/19/2014 | 10:29:19 AM
Free Windoze and Talking Clippy
Of course they'll have to provide a free upgrade. Otherwise sales of PCs with Windows 8 will plummet as soon as the "previews" go public.

"Virtual assistants."  Is that what they're calling Clippy now?  Guess it'll return with a Siri-like voice, but even more annoying.
Lord_Beavis
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Lord_Beavis,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/19/2014 | 10:18:03 AM
Free Windows (as in free beer)?
The only way that I would even think about running Windows for personal use is if they built a GUI for the Linux Kernel and then that would be with a grain of salt.

I've witnessed first hand the fuster cluck that Windows 8.x can cuase in a business and I must say it is extremely laughable that they [Microsoft] are even still in business.

When more businesses take the Munich route, it will be a good day indeed.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2014 | 7:32:28 AM
Re: Windows Threshold
I think Microsoft doesn't have much choice on the price.  There are enough people who are complaining that making us pay for these updates would cause a riot.  I've been using Win8 and 8.1 since they were released and I'm really hoping this next update is the sweet spot in fixing the little issues that everyone has been waiting for.  I know Microsoft really didn't want to give us a start menu but Win 8 has such a split personality that you have moments of misery just trying to make simple system configuration changes.    I appreciate the direction they are heading but the execution is so loosely stitched together you end up switching back and forth between UIs to do anything.
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