Users of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system who have been clawing for a return of the Start Menu and the removal of the Start Screen on their laptops and desktops may be in for a treat this coming September. That’s when new reports peg the first public release of Windows Threshold, or what most are now referring to as simply Windows 9.
Sources who spoke with All About Microsoft, a reputable outlet for Microsoft leaks and details, have revealed that Microsoft plans to release a “technical preview” of what it’ may call Windows 9 as early as the end of September or first few weeks of October.
This technical preview of Windows 9 wouldn’t be the final version of the operating system upgrade. But, anyone who is comfortable with trying pre-release software will be able to download the update to their Windows PCs, reportedly. Citing other sources who spoke with it, the outlet is also pegging a final release of Windows 9/Windows Threshold for early next year.
To date, Microsoft hasn’t actually confirmed that there is a Windows 9 or Windows Threshold software upgrade in development. The few times it has shared any information about future Windows upgrades, it’s stuck to just indicating that those things are features it’s working on for a future release. All that being said, reports and leaks about the software update have been clear: Windows Threshold is coming and it’ll be a seriously huge release.
If the rumors are accurate then Windows 9 will be just as much of a change as Windows 8 was, and probably just as controversial. Earlier this year Microsoft confirmed that it was developing a miniaturized version of the Start Screen for where the Start Menu once sat in Windows 7. This Start Menu will include Live Tiles and many of the features of the Start Screen, but not completely take over the entire display, which was one of user’s biggest complaints about Windows 8.
Microsoft is also unleashing Windows Store apps on the Desktop interface so that users can take advantage of their features without feeling like they can’t really multitask – even though they can. To be clear, rumors have pegged the Start Screen as going away, but only for users with laptops and desktops that aren’t classified as 2-in-1s. Devices that are classified as 2-in-1s or tablets will still see the full Start Screen, allegedly. Users using a typical laptop like Dell’s XPS 13 will get this new Start Menu, meanwhile users of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 will still have the Start Screen in some form.
In recent weeks leaks about features other than fixes for the Start Screen and Start Menu have surfaced. Reportedly, Microsoft is working on a version of the Cortana personal assistant that they added to Windows Phones earlier this year for inclusion in Windows 9. Today, the personal assistant allows users to set reminders, make calendar appointments, play music and more with just a few voice commands. Cortana also gathers information about users so that she can seamlessly make their day easier. For example, the assistant doesn’t just track different appointment locations, she also tracks how long it takes to get to those appointments and reminds users to leave in time enough to get to where they’re going.
While we may know a lot about the features coming in Windows 9, we don’t know that much about how users will be able to get it on their machines. With Windows 8.1, the last major update to Windows 8, Microsoft allowed users to download for free through the Windows Store. With the Windows 8.1 Update Microsoft still gave the update to users for free but packed everything into Windows Updates that were automatically installed. As Windows 9 is a major update akin from going to Windows 7 from Windows 8 there may be some cost involved in upgrading Windows 8 notebooks, 2-in-1s and desktops.