When Microsoft introduced Windows 8 in 2012, it ushered in some of the biggest changes in Windows history.
Windows 8 is meant to be a single software working seamlessly across traditional laptops, hybrids, and tablets. To achieve this, Microsoft axed the classic Windows start menu, added a new tiled interface, and completely changed the way users interact with Windows.
But it didn’t catch on quite as quickly as Microsoft had hoped. With its first major update to the software, Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried to address some of these concerns. But the company could that a step further with Windows 9.
It will be quite some time before we see it, but here’s what we’ve heard so far about Windows 9.
Windows 9 may bring back the Start menu
One of the biggest gripes about Windows 8 was its lack of a Start menu.
Windows 9, however, could include what Microsoft is reportedly calling a mini Start menu that blends the traditional menu with Windows 8’s tiled interface, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.
Microsoft showed off an early version of this hybrid Start menu at its Build developer conference in April.
Well-connected blogger Paul Thurrott, who like Foley has an excellent track record when it comes to reporting Microsoft news, also reports that the Start menu will return in Windows 9.
Microsoft is supposedly calling it ‘Threshold’ internally
Microsoft is referring to its future update Windows as “Threshold,” according to Foley. It was originally believed that “Threshold” would not be a single release, but a series of smaller updates similar to Windows 8.1. Newer reports, however, are indicating that this is indeed the code name for Windows 9.
Windows 9 may be able to adapt depending on what device you’re using
“Threshold” could “look and work” differently depending on the type of device you’re using, according to Foley. Those using a Windows laptop or desktop computer will get a version of Windows “Threshold” that emphasises the traditional desktop.
If you’re running Windows on a tablet or hybrid device like the Surface, however, “Threshold” will “support” switching between a tiled mode and standard desktop mode.It’s unclear if the tiled Windows interface will be available as an option for non-touch laptop and desktop computers.
You made be able to pay for extra features
Another possibility for Windows 9 is a subscription-based format, according to Ars Technica’s Peter Bright.
The base operating system would be free, but certain features could cost extra. Hypothetically, if this correlates with Foley’s report about Windows changing depending on your device, a user would be able to pay extra to get the tiled interface as an extra feature on a non-touch laptop or desktop. But this is just a hypothetical example based on piecing together the rumours.
A single app store for all Windows platforms
Microsoft is reportedly planning to connect its various platforms such as Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Xbox more tightly. Part of this closer integration could involve releasing a single app store for all of its platforms, according to Foley. Right now, Microsoft has separate app stores for Windows Phone apps and Windows 8.1/Windows 8.1 RT apps.
It probably won’t come out until 2015
Windows 9 will probably be released in the second half of 2015. A reportedly leaked document published by tech blog Myce indicates the release preview for both Windows 9 and Windows Phone 9 will launch between Q2 and Q3 2015.
A release preview is exactly what it sounds like — it’s a near-finished version of the software the public gets to play with before the official release arrives.
Myce’s leak corroborates with Thurrott’s previous reports too, which also suggested we’ll see Windows 9 in spring 2015.