Microsoft Reportedly Planning 'Threshold' Release Wave for 2015

Microsoft may be readying a spring 2014 update for Windows 8.1, as well as a wave of product releases for spring 2015, according to a report Monday by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

Foley offered no details about what this "Update 1" to Windows 8.1 might entail, although she indicated, citing anonymous sources, that its release was planned to coincide with an update to Windows Phone. Microsoft has been rumored to be developing a Windows Phone "8.1" update for release sometime next year.

Foley's sources told her that the 2015 product wave launch, expected to arrive in the second quarter, is currently known internally at Microsoft by its code name, "Threshold." The code name is thought to be derived from the name of a planet in the first Microsoft Halo game. This Threshold wave will be a broad update to the operating systems used across Microsoft devices (Surface), smartphones (Windows Phone) and gaming consoles (Xbox) that share the Windows NT core, according to the article.

Microsoft would not comment on the claims, describing them as "rumors and speculation."

The spring 2015 launch of Threshold, if real, would fall a few months later than the annual OS update cadence that Microsoft executed with Windows 8.1. Microsoft released its Windows 8.1 update back in October, about a year after Windows 8.

Foley also speculated earlier that Microsoft might consolidate its ARM hardware development. Windows RT and the Windows Phone OS both currently run on ARM-based chips, but Microsoft could focus on just one of them going forward. She suggested that the Windows Phone OS would win out because of its smaller size, and that Microsoft might make that sort of consolidation by the spring of 2015.

Microsoft officials had always promised from the beginning that the Windows 8 platform would provide a way for developers to write programs once, although they currently still have to tweak the code of "Windows Store Apps" to run on Windows Phone. Under this scenario, traditional "Desktop" apps become the legacy applications to fade into disuse over time. Desktop apps still run on Windows 8 devices, but they don't run at all on Windows RT systems.

That single-platform-for-developers kind of message was reemphasized recently in a talk by Julie Larson-Green, executive vice president of Microsoft's newly formed Devices and Studios segment. Larson-Green stressed that Microsoft's Windows segment is wholly focused on the mobile operating system competition with Android and iOS. She didn't say that Microsoft would consolidate Windows RT under Windows Phone. However, she described Windows RT as Microsoft's "first go" at delivering a simplified experience for consumer users, and that Microsoft saw a need to maintain that sort of experience going forward.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.