I get asked by friends and family all the time – what is Windows 9?
I thought it would be fun to document everything we know about Microsoft’s next Operating System in one place, on one page.
So without further ado, here’s what we know about Windows 9 so far.
Editors Note: Please stay tuned as this page will update frequently.
Update – 8/21/2014
A preview version of Windows 9 is now expected to be unveiled and it seems that we have a set date. Microsoft is scheduled to reveal Windows 9 on September 30 2014.
If you’d like to know more about the Windows 9 preview date, check out The Windows 9 preview announcement.
We will of course have more details for you as we know more.
After Windows 8 but before Windows 9?
Apparently Microsoft will be creating an interim release or two before Windows 9. It has been speculated that Microsoft will be releasing a Windows 8.1 update 2 and maybe even a Windows 8.1 update 3 before Windows 9 is released.
There is speculation that these updates would offer further refinements to Windows 8.1 including the addition/refinement of a start button. The idea here would be to appeal to consumers and businesses with more features before Windows 9 is released.
What is “Threshold”?
Threshold is the rumored codename for the next major version of Windows. Though Threshold is widely believed to be the same as Windows 9, apparently it is not.
Instead, the codename refers to the wave of operating systems across Windows-based phones, devices and gaming consoles.
Allegedly, Threshold will include updates to all three OS platforms (Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone) that will allow them to share common elements.
So more properly put, Windows 9 will be part of the threshold updates.
What is Windows 9?
Windows 9 is the speculated product name for the next major Operating System from Microsoft. If confirmed, the name would be a continuation of the numeric names given to the various versions of Windows since the very beginning.
Keep in mind that as always, those names are subject to change by Microsoft right up until the actual software is made available for sale.
Will there be a preview version of Windows 9?
Fresh off the presses, the answer seems to be yes.
From the Verge:
ZDNet reports that a preview of codename Threshold — which may or may not be named Windows 9 once it’s released — will be available later this year. The public preview is said to arrive in the fall, shortly after Windows 8.1 Update 2 is delivered to existing machines.
When is Windows 9 going to be released to the public?
The rumor mill has April 2015 as a date when Microsoft might release this Operating System to the public.
In January 2014, Microsoft analyst and blogger Paul Thurrott said he believes the company plans to release Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) in April 2015, less than three years after Windows 8.
Also, Microsoft leaker FaiKee released documents claimed to be Redmond’s full roadmap for Windows 9 and other products. The first of which, released to the My Digital Life forums, says “Windows 9 Windows Preview Release @ 2015 02-03.”
Another leak was by Myce.com, and is a bit more vague but said to expect a preview release between Q2 and Q3 2015. This would make a September 2015 release date a possibility.
How much will Windows 9 cost?
As usual, the rumor mill is all over the place on this one but there is some speculation that at least some versions of Windows 9 will be available as a free system update. Microsoft has come under tremendous pressure from Apple which releases it’s OS upgrades at no cost.
There are rumors of a barebones version of Windows 9 which will be available for free. This version would allow users to “unlock” new chunks of functionality for a price. Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet has speculated that the opposite might be true.
Here theory: different SKUs of Windows might be offered for free or at very low prices to OEMs and consumers, but desktop version will not be free.
How many versions or SKU’s of Windows 9 will be released?
Yet another unknown. Some have speculated that as few as three versions of Windows 9 could be released. Others have said there could be a lot more.
Mary Jo Foley did state the following about the various versions.
Users running Threshold on a desktop/laptop will get a SKU, or version, that puts the Windows Desktop (for running Win32/legacy apps) front and center. Two-in-one devices, like the Lenovo Yoga or Surface Pro, will support switching between the Metro-Style mode and the Windowed mode, based on whether or not keyboards are connected or disconnected.
The combined Phone/Tablet SKU of Threshold won’t have a Desktop environment at all, but still will support apps running side-by-side, my sources are reconfirming. This “Threshold Mobile” SKU will work on ARM-based Lumia phones, ARM-based Windows tablets and, I believe, Intel-Atom-based tablets.
Will Windows 9 mean the desktop will finally go away?
I am 100% confident in saying that the desktop is not going anywhere. It may mature and evolve but I am pretty sure it will be here for a while. Microsoft is still processing the tremendous backlash that Windows 8 brought, especially with businesses.
The odds of Microsoft attempting to rock the boat with a major blow like killing off the desktop are slim to none. The company is striving to keep Windows 9 drama free.
Will Windows 9 allow developers to write code once and deploy across phones, tablets and PC’s?
That certainly seems to be a future objective for Redmond but I am not sure that it will be done by next year. Windows 9 will have made several strides towards unifying the Microsoft ecosystem and making it easier for developers to write less code for more platforms.
There is also speculation that Windows 9 will auto detect your hardware and deliver the experience appropriate for your device (mobile UI for phones and tablets). See the Mary Jo Foley quote above for more details.
What are some of the changes that are rumored to be coming with Windows 9?
This is where the internet goes a little crazy. Here are some of the rumored changes Windows 9 is bringing:
The blending of the desktop and the modern UI
Apparently, Microsoft are planning to further merge the Desktop and Modern UI. Simply put, Microsoft will allow Modern UI apps to run in the desktop, in windowed mode, and have Modern UI apps pinned to the Start Menu instead of a Start Screen.
Some of this work has begun with Windows 8.1 and may continue with subsequent updates before Windows 9.
A new/refined start button
The controversy over the disappearance of the start button was a big part of the furor and uproar over Windows 8. There is speculation that Microsoft will bring it back in the desktop versions of Windows 9, more refined and better.
Radically redesigned UI
I doubt that 100%. Windows 9 is the gentle unwinding of Windows 8, emphasis on the word gentle. Microsoft will be looking to do very little harm with this upgrade. I believe there will be subtle changes but nothing aggressive.
Deeper integration with Bing
I believe this will be true. Microsoft continues to go all in with Bing and I think Windows 9 will be no exception. There will be many opportunities in the next version of Windows for Microsoft to integrate search into the Operating System.
Deeper integration with Azure for Cloud Storage
I believe that Microsoft will continue the push to leverage Azure for cloud storage. Microsoft may actually integrate parts of the Operating System into the cloud for document/file storage.
Improved Power Management
This is expected. Microsoft has done a great job with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 with power management. Expect Microsoft to make the OS even more efficient in the next version of Windows.
Deeper Kinect/Gesture integration
It makes sense that Microsoft may try and push the envelope with gesture recognition in Windows 9. I would expect that the company would push beyond the initial forays made in Windows 8.1 (specifically the Cooking application). Gesture based computing would be huge if they could pull it off.
I fully expect better security options in Windows 9 including fingerprint recognition. Microsoft do a great job with security and continue to lock down Windows with every major release.
64 Bit only?
This is the enduring urban legend. For the past 6 years, we have speculated that Microsoft would move to 64 bit exclusively. I doubt that will happen in this release. Once again, this is not going to be a controversial release, this will be as smooth and drama free as possible. At least that is what Microsoft have to be hoping.
That’s all I have right now but I will continue to update this page as we know more.
Where can I download the Windows 9 Beta versions? The Windows 9 Developer Preview and the Windows 9 Consumer Preview?
We have started a Download Windows 9 page. To download the Windows 9 Developer Preview and Windows 9 Consumer Preview when they are ready, simply head to our Download Windows 9 page.
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