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Windows 9: Desktop Resurgence?

Next version of Windows will remove Live Tiles from traditional PCs and laptops but keep the Start screen for hybrids and tablets, according to reports.

allow users to drill into an app's contents without launching the app into full-screen mode. The Email app, for example, might allow the user to view her inbox as a dynamic feed displayed on the tile itself. Microsoft subsequently removed the video. The company did not respond to inquiries regarding why the video was taken down, and it's not clear if the new Live Tile feature is part of the company's active plans.

The newest reports echo several earlier rumors, many from the same sources. The previous reports also pegged Threshold as a spring 2015 release that will feature an increased emphasis on the desktop UI and come in versions configured for different device types and use cases.

Microsoft allegedly hasn't determined whether to call Threshold Windows 9. Windows 8.1 has been better received than Windows 8, but the company has had trouble shaking the original version's mixed reputation. According to Web tracking firm Net Applications, Windows 8 and 8.1 combined in May for less than 13% of desktop PC users, trailing not only Windows 7, which snared over half the market, but also Windows XP, which Microsoft no longer supports.

According to yet more rumors, Microsoft could show its hand sooner than later. The online Russian group WZor, a frequent source of prerelease Windows information, claimed via social media that Microsoft might use its upcoming Worldwide Partner Conference -- slated to run July 13 to 17 in Washington, D.C. -- to announce both a second Windows 8.1 update and a beta of Windows 9. Several other reports also claim that Microsoft will soon release another major update for Windows 8.1, though a number have said the company might not actively publicize the update. It will reportedly include mostly tweaks and background fixes, and could be rolled into August's Patch Tuesday.

Other recent rumors indicate Microsoft could be experimenting with rebranding efforts not only for Windows, but for its entire mobile strategy. Known Windows tipster @evaleaks recently claimed Microsoft will retire its Surface brand and instead release all tablets and smartphones under the Lumia banner, which is arguably more recognized internationally. Other reports claim Microsoft plans to delay Threshold until summer 2015, so until Microsoft confirms its plans it's best to take these details with a grain of salt. The company recently took a stance against leaks, prosecuting a former employee, who was ultimately sentenced to three months in jail, for passing confidential information to a journalist.

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