Windows Threshold Event: 6 Things To Expect

Microsoft has much to prove when it shows off the next version of Windows at an event this Tuesday. Here's what to expect.

some had thought, but the biggest growth paths are still in the mobile sphere. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner testified to as much last summer at the company's partners conference, where he said Microsoft has around 90% of the PC market, but only 14% of the larger PC-smartphone-tablet space.

OS Group head Terry Myerson and corporate VP Joe Belfiore will run Tuesday's event, and the latter's presence strongly indicates some mobile talk; Belfiore is known primarily as the Windows Phone boss. Moreover, Nadella has said Threshold will converge Microsoft's various platforms into a single OS. If this is true, it should be difficult for Microsoft to discuss Threshold without at least alluding to mobile features.

In the desktop Threshold, even though Microsoft has backpedaled to a more traditional UI, the interface will still include traces of the mobile-oriented hybridity that drove Windows 8. Users will be able to configure the new Start menu as a single column, like in Windows 7, or with a second column of user-selected Live Tiles, for example. Will anyone use this second column? Windows Threshold will inherit Windows 8.1's "app gap," so if Microsoft wants to convince more desktop users to try out a few Modern titles, the Windows Store needs more compelling apps. Expect this topic to come up, even if only in the context of line-of-business apps, during Tuesday's event.

4. Microsoft will tell us Threshold's real name.
Microsoft recently announced that it will deploy more Windows feature updates via monthly releases, like it does with security patches, instead of through large "service packs" released at lengthy intervals. Thanks to this shift, Nadella's cloud focus, and a few rumors, some expect Microsoft to stop using numbered versions with Threshold; instead of Windows 9, 10, and so on, it could be just "Windows" from now on. Microsoft's advertising already takes this tactic; commercials refer to "the new Windows" or "Windows with Office," but never to "Windows 8.1."

But Microsoft employees have accidentally referenced "Windows 9" at least twice. The second instance prompted Microsoft to clarify that Threshold doesn't yet have an official name, which reinforces rumors that company leaders are still debating the issue. Some within Microsoft reportedly want to use Windows 9 in order to differentiate the new version from Windows 8's poor reputation.

5. Expect a Threshold version of Windows Server to be discussed.
Microsoft also reportedly is readying a preview of the Threshold version of Windows Server. Given the enterprise-oriented nature of Tuesday's event, it's likely Windows Server will be on the agenda. Support for popular Windows Server 2003 support ends July 14, 2015, setting up a potentially Windows XP-like scenario if Microsoft doesn't persuade customers to upgrade.

6. Expect a surprise or two.
Windows rumors have been flying fast and furious lately, and it's likely that some of the leaked details are either incomplete or misunderstood. Most intriguingly, references to "Windows as a Service" have been popping up for several months. Will this Tuesday be the day we finally find out what that means? If not, will we get our official first look at the next version of Office?

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