Microsoft appears to be wasting no time moving on from the disastrous launch of Windows 8 by announcing its successor on September 30. Redmond is reportedly planning to unveil key features of the new operating system -- codename “Threshold" -- during a media event tentatively planned for that day.
The software company will be unveiling key features of Threshold, with a preview version available for developers on that day or shortly thereafter, according to a report by The Verge, citing sources familiar with Microsoft’s plan. A stable version is expected to be made available for the general public sometime in early 2015.
Windows Losing Marketshare to Windows
For Microsoft, September 30 probably cannot come fast enough. Users have not been impressed with the drastic redesign to the Windows interface. In fact, the latest version only commands 12.54 percent of the market. Even more troubling for Microsoft, Windows 8 and 8.1 suffered a combined loss of 0.06 percentage points from June to July, the first time its share declined.
Its predecessor, Windows 7, is still installed on 51.22 percent of PCs. Even the 13-year-old XP operating system is doing better, representing 24.82 percent of the market, despite the fact that support for the system ended three months ago.
Manufacturers have been just as put off as users of Microsoft’s latest offering. HP is continuing to push Windows 7, and recently sent out an e-mail promoting the five-year-old system over Windows 8 as part of its back-to-school sales . And shortly after the start of the year, the company quietly removed all of its Windows 8 models from the top pages of its online store.
Two of its three top-selling models are still preloaded with the Windows 7 OS. HP cut the price of the Envy 15t-j100 notebook with Windows 7 installed to $729.99 this week, promoting the OS for its “familiar and intuitive environment.” Lenovo and Dell, which make up the top three PC OEMs along with HP, are also still promoting Windows on their Web sites.
Before the Threshold
Although the exact details of Threshold’s redesign are still unknown, Windows watchers say it will more likely represent a return to the comfortable form of Windows 7, rather than another radical redesign. One detail that has already been announced by Microsoft is the return of the Start menu with a miniature version of the popular feature that was missing from Windows 8.
Meanwhile, the Charms bar, which provides shortcuts to certain system functions, will likely disappear in the new version. Users will also have the ability to run Metro apps in individual desktop windows, similar to how previous versions of the operating system worked.
However, not all of the improvements expected in Windows 9 are confined to just bringing back the look and feel of Windows 7. Cortana, the digital personal assistant found on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1, is expected to make its desktop debut with Threshold. Virtual desktop support may be another feature that will be unveiled September 30.