We’ve been hearing about the big changes that may come with the next version of Windows, presumably called “Windows 9,” for months.
But now, a new report claims Microsoft will cut one of Windows 8’s most notable features from its future operating system.
The Charms menu is a sidebar that offers shortcuts to certain functions within the operating system, such as the search bar, the Settings menu, and the Devices page, among others. It’s one of the primary means of navigating Microsoft’s software.
Instead, the company will supposedly include some of these buttons in title bars for Windows’ “Metro-style” apps. It’s unclear whether this will be the case for all versions of Windows (including tablets, PCs, and hybrids), or just for mobile devices. Winbeta says this will apply to desktops only, while Foley says the Charms bar will disappear from all Windows iterations.
Microsoft is also expected to add support for virtual desktops in Windows 9, according to Foley. This would allow a user to store his or her website on a server rather than locally on the device, meaning it can be accessed anytime from another computer as well.
As Foley notes, it’s unclear whether this functionality will be available as part of the main “Threshold” release or if it will be an extra feature for which users need to pay.
These changes, combined with previous rumours, make it seem as if Microsoft is reverting back to a more basic user interface for Windows. Axing the Charms sidebar and bringing back the Start menu would already dramatically change the way users interact with Windows. Microsoft is also expected to allow “Metro-style apps” to run in separate windows on the desktop, just like traditional apps.
When Windows 8 initially launched in 2012, it was met with widespread criticism mostly because of its steep learning curve. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft tone things down while still trying to maintain the aspects of Windows 8 that work well on devices with touch screens.
We may be only a few months away from getting our first peek at Windows 9. Foley says a public preview could arrive in fall 2014, although the final build isn’t expected to launch until spring 2015.
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