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Microsoft To Unveil Windows 9 'Technical Preview' This Month

Microsoft will give an early look at its next Windows desktop operating system in an event on Sept. 30, according to invitations sent by the company to members of the press on Monday.

The event will be held in San Francisco and will focus on "what's next for Windows and the enterprise." It will feature talks by Microsoft executives Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore, according to The Verge. A press spokesperson for Microsoft described the event as enterprise-focused.

"This [event] is a discussion focused on what's next for Windows and includes information geared toward technical and enterprise customers," the spokesperson said.

The next version of Windows, code-named "Threshold," is frequently referred to as "Windows 9," though Microsoft hasn't yet fully described its release plans. Threshold itself could be an interim OS release before a so-called Windows 9 release.

Based on leaked screenshots that appeared late last week, the upcoming Windows release is being referred to as the "Windows Technical Preview." It's expected to bring back the Start Menu and permit Windows Store Apps to run in their own windows on the Desktop side of the operating system, which has all been confirmed by Microsoft officials.

The leaked screenshots show other features that may or may not get included into the final OS build. Examples of possible features that may be included in Threshold or Windows 9 include the elimination of the Charms Bar, Cortana integration, an Update button, a Notification Center showing alerts from apps or from the system, as well as a feature called "Virtual Desktops."

The Virtual Desktop feature supposedly lets users compose different screen views, which can be used to pull apps together, as shown in this video produced by German Web site WinFuture. This screenshot illustrates the concept:

[Click on image for larger view.] Screenshot purportedly showing Windows Threshold features, including a rumored Virtual Desktop. (Source: WinFuture via YouTube.)

A new Windows Server is also expected to be unveiled at the Sept. 30 press event, according to sources informing veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley. In a recent article, Foley summarizes some of the other expectations. For instance, the Threshold release may be the last formal OS release before Microsoft embarks on a more incremental release cycle that's similar to Office 365 software releases.

Foley also suggested that all of the features in this Windows Technical Preview won't be fully delivered until the spring of 2015. In addition, she claims that Threshold is also planned for ARM devices, such as tablets and smartphones, with the release expected sometime in January or February of 2015, according to her sources. Another rumor is that Microsoft might offer Windows Threshold as a free update to current Windows 7 and Windows 8 users.

The table below summarizes what might be seen on Sept. 30:

Feature Description Status

"Threshold" name

Microsoft's internal code name for its next Windows OS

Confirmed by Microsoft COO Kevin Turner in July

Start Menu

A revamped Start Menu, shown with Live Tiles and menu items

Confirmed by Microsoft Corporate VP Tony Prophet, who showed a screen mock-up in July

Windows Store Apps for the Desktop side of OS

"Metro" apps will be capable of running on the Desktop side of the OS in resizable windows

Confirmed by Microsoft Corporate VP Tony Prophet in July

"Virtual Desktops"

The ability to switch entire screen views, similar to a feature in the Linux-based Ubuntu OS

Rumor, but leaked screenshots show the concept

Elimination of the Charms Bar

The menu of Charms commands that's currently present on the right side of the Windows 8/8.1 screen may be eliminated and pushed into the title bars of Window Store Apps ("Metro" apps)

Rumor

Cortana integration

The Cortana personal assistant app, currently seen with Windows Phone 8.1, is expected to appear in the Threshold release

Rumor

Update button

Allows users to move to the most recent Windows version

Rumor

Notification Center

Shows alerts from Windows Store Apps and Desktop apps, along with system notifications

Rumor

Arrival dates: Sept. 30 press unveiling; general release rumored in the spring of 2015

A "technology preview" confirmed for Sept. 30 unveiling; "Windows 9" rumored to arrive in the spring of 2015, but Microsoft may release incremental updates

Only the Sept. 30. unveiling is confirmed

Microsoft's next operating system (code-named "Threshold"), with rumored and confirmed features under development.

About the Author

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