How many of us just bashed Windows 8 when it came out? The interface was an experimental build to create a mobile device style design for desktops, however, consumers all over the world hated this sudden change. They managed to put so much pressure on Microsoft that they had to bring back the Start Button back in the Windows 8.1 Update 1, although it will not bring up the legacy Start Menu anymore. With Windows 8 losing more and more market share, Microsoft are looking to set things right with Windows 9, codenamed “Threshold”.

Beta/Preview

The preview is suggested to be released the earliest in late 2014 with its full release in April/May 2015, while other reports suggest that Microsoft is delaying the release in order to update Windows 8.1. The delayed preview is suggested to be in Q2 of 2015 which will lead to a full release in Q3/Q4 of 2015. The beta will give Microsoft much needed feedback on its latest OS, with 4 to 6 months in between the beta and the final release to fix major bugs and add or remove features.

Pricing model

There are many speculations on how Windows 9 would be priced, with some saying that there might be a subscription based model instead of a one time purchase. Since this would mean that the base cost would be less, short term wise it could attract more people to try the operating system rather than commit to it with a huge sum of money.

On the mobile side, all mobile platforms should receive the Windows 9 OS for free. This is following Microsoft’s current business model for Windows 8 as devices with display smaller than 9 inch will not be charged for the OS. A recently leaked Microsoft document refers to ‘Windows 365’ which shows that Windows could have a subscription-based future. However, it is unlikely that Microsoft will introduce the subscription so suddenly, and the WZOR (a Russian Windows leaker group) is convinced that the subscription will be for certain features of Windows 9 only.

Design

With the failure of Windows 8 to attract more customers, the majority of the blame was put on the design or the UI of Windows 8. The design was highly optimized for touch screen users but was not very intuitive with the mouse and keyboard. Microsoft looks to change that by using only UI elements that fit both the touch style and the traditional mouse/keyboard style. It is expected that the left hand side of the desktop retain the more traditional start menu style of Windows XP and 7, while the right hand side feature the “Metro-style” apps floating around.

windows9_start_menu_rumour

Cortana

So there’s a rumor that Cortana is set to be bundled in all Windows 9 platforms. Exciting news isn’t it? Now people can talk to a digital assistant on the PC as well. Just imagine asking Cortana to boot up Halo to talk to Cortana in-game , Cortana-ception style. (For those of you who didn’t get the joke, Cortana originates from Microsoft’s Halo video game)

cortana

Overall, if it does meet the right schedules for the beta and final release, this would mean that Microsoft are actively trying to reduce the development time between the OS lifetime cycles. This would mean more frequent updates and releases which is good for us, because this makes the consumers voice much more powerful. Personally I await to see the potential of Windows 9 to see if it can woo current Windows 7 users to make the switch.