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Report: Windows 9 Will Have Desktop-Focused Improvements

Windows 9, code-named "Threshold," will include improvements for those who primarily use the traditional desktop environment for Win32-based applications, according to longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley.

In a report Monday citing information from sources, Foley said Threshold will be aimed at the large audience of Windows 7 users who have avoided the "Modern" (also known as "Metro") user interface of Windows 8.x. At the same time, she said Microsoft will continue to enhance the Modern UI for tablets and hybrid laptop-tablet devices.

To accomplish this, the Threshold release will have multiple SKUs. For those who prefer the classic desktop and run Win32 apps, one SKU will put that front and center, according to Foley. Hybrid devices will continue to support switching from the Modern UI to the classic desktop.

Another SKU aimed only at phones and tablets will not have a desktop component, which may prove disappointing to some. At the same time, it appears that SKU will be used for some Nokia tablets and possibly a third-generation Surface device, perhaps in the "mini" form factor.

As previously reported, Threshold will get a new Start menu. Microsoft in April released Windows 8.1 Update, which added a Start screen and various improvements for keyboard and mouse users, but no Start menu. Foley pointed out that the mini Start menu that was demonstrated at Microsoft's Build conference in April is expected to be customizable.

[Click on image for larger view.] Start screen mock-up shown at Microsoft's Build developer event. Source: Microsoft.

Microsoft said it had no comment on Foley's report.

The Threshold release is expected to arrive in the spring of 2015, though Foley said a preview version may be released within the next few months. This follows a rumor from last week, attributed to online leaker "WZor," that suggested Microsoft might unveil a beta version of Windows 9 at this month's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

Microsoft is also expected to release the second and final update to Windows 8.1 sometime this fall. Foley expects Windows 8.1 Update 2 to arrive as part of August's Patch Tuesday rollout, though users will be able to opt out. Microsoft may also announce Update 2 at WPC, according to WZor.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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