Windows 9 ‘Threshold’ Is Coming: Here Are The Latest Rumors

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Update 9/24/14 5:12 p.m. ET by Konrad Krawczyk: A Microsoft executive publicly acknowledged Windows 9. As far as we can tell, this marks the first time that a Microsoft executive or representative has uttered the term “Windows 9.”

Notifications center
A notifications center is reportedly coming to Windows 9, and it will live in the System Tray along the Taskbar in the right hand corner of the desktop. Notifications will be organized on an app-by-app basis, and you’ll be able to dismiss them individually, or all of them simultaneously with the click of a button.

At this point, the size of the notifications center can’t be changed, and you can scroll up and down to comb through a large list of them. It’s unclear whether you’ll be able to move the notifications center around, and it allegedly looks pretty basic at this moment. However, it could gain more features and functionality by the time Microsoft shows it off to the world at some point.

Cortana’s coming and other rumors

A new report suggests that Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-based assistant that’s currently on Windows Phone only, could come to Windows 9. However, it may take the form of an app, which suggests that it could be turned on and off. If that’s the case, we’re glad that Microsoft is giving users the option of using Cortana.

That’s part of the reason why Windows 8 has flopped to this point; radical changes like the Charms bar, and the Metro UI, were forced on users, instead of giving them the choice to simply say no.

Other whispers indicate that the Charms menu, which debuted with Windows 8, could be eliminated altogether when Windows 9 comes around. However, the functionality found in the Charms menu today could be integrated in title bars at the very top of apps. Those are the same areas where you would expect to find buttons like File and Edit in classic Windows programs.

Related: Windows 9 could be a free upgrade for Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 users

It’s possible that when Windows 9 is released, it could be a completely free upgrade for users of Microsoft’s older (but still popular, excluding Vista) desktop operating systems. Interestingly enough, it’s unclear whether Windows 8 and 8.1 users would benefit from the free upgrade as well.

Microsoft has spent the last two years cleaning up the mess caused by the release of Windows 8.

Though Metro UI apps can be ran in the classic desktop UI in Windows 8.1, they still cant be shrunken down into smaller windows. That could change once Windows 9 is released.

Microsoft has spent the last two years cleaning up the mess caused by the release of Windows 8, a widely panned operating system that’s endured slow sales and a general downturn of the PC market. In response, the company is struggling to replace Windows 8 with a new operating system likely to be named(unsurprisingly) Windows 9.

While little concrete information has been released, leaked rumors provide some indication of where Microsoft is headed with its next OS. Here’s what we know about some of the major features you’ll find when the new OS finally rolls out.

Cross-platform app compatibility

App compatibility among Windows platforms is likely to be a key feature of Microsoft’s new operating system. The company wants developers to be able to create a single app and port it between Windows 9, RT, Windows Phone and the Xbox One with ease. Microsoft hinted at this during the last BUILD conference by suggesting that developers will be able to use tools for Windows apps to create Xbox One apps, and this could be expanded upon during the company’s April 2014 event.

Rumors indicate that Microsoft will attack cross-platform compatibility with a three-pronged initiative in which Windows is tailored to the primary input used with a device; mouse-first, touch-first, or voice first. Mouse-first will be the traditional desktop/laptop experience, touch-first will be for smartphones and tablets, and voice-first will be for large-screen devices like televisions and, of course, devices that connect to a television (like the Xbox One).

This approach would make sense, considering Microsoft’s confusing array of platforms as well as the lack of apps. With that said, the devil is clearly in the details. Windows 8 proved that designing an operating system across multiple platforms is not easy, and the particulars of the interface and the development tools will make the difference between success and failure.

Native gestures

Another way for Microsoft to enable support for multiple devices would be the introduction of gesture recognition. This, of course, is within the company’s area of expertise, as Kinect has provided plenty of experience.

Adding built-in gesture support would make sense given that Intel is heavily pushing the technology, and that Microsoft has its own Kinect sensor to sell. The gesture control technology that we’ve used so far has not convinced us that it’s useful, however, and we’re not sure what Microsoft could do to change our minds. The Kinect sensor may have the resolution and processing power needed to provide a better experience than other products, but it’s also rather expensive. We don’t think anyone would pay $100 to add gesture support to their PC.

Of course, it’s possible that Microsoft will simply add developer tools for gestures and leave it up to hardware and software companies to figure out the details themselves. While this wouldn’t give the company a chance to leverage Kinect, it would pass responsibility of developing the technology onto others. That may be necessary given the broad range of devices that Windows needs to support.

A new Start…menu

Microsoft is likely to continue back-pedaling on its decision to remove the Start menu on mouse-first devices. Windows 8.1 brought the Start button back, but only added a new “Apps View,” which is essentially a Metro-fied launch screen. Now, with Windows 9, the company may completely reverse its earlier removal with a new, re-designed Start menu (which may or may not debut under that name).

What will it look like, and what will it do? No one but Microsoft knows. With that said, what little information has leaked suggests that it will not be a carbon copy of the old Start menu, or an expansion on the App View. Instead, it will be a new approach that re-thinks the Start menu for the realities and capabilities of modern systems. We think that’s likely to mean a greater reliance on Windows search, integration of web search, and the potential for significant customization.

More Metro, everywhere

Don’t get your hopes up for Microsoft abandoning the Metro design. While it hasn’t gone over well on the desktop, it has worked everywhere else, and it’s key to the company’s goal of making Windows a cross-platform operating system.

This means the development of new Metro interface features. What will they be? That’s unknown. We can guess that they’ll focus on the evolution of features like multi-tasking, desktop search and the Charms bar, but such changes would hardly be Earth-shattering.

There is one concrete change rumored; the introduction of Metro apps to the desktop. Currently, Metro apps cannot run on the desktop, a trait that’s particularly frustrating on desktops with large, high-resolution displays. Windows 9 could fix that flaw. If true, it would give desktop owners a reason to check out the Windows Store, a place most PC enthusiasts avoid at all costs.


Current rumors indicate that Windows 9 is scheduled for release in April of 2015. If that’s true, new information could be revealed at this week’s BUILD festivities – but, with the OS still a year out, the reveals are likely to be about vague, big-picture ideas rather than specific features. We’ll probably hear about how Windows 9 will be easy to develop for, how it’ll promote cross-platform apps, and how it’ll make touch better while also improving the desktop for users who just want a keyboard and mouse.

Whatever Microsoft says, it needs to make an impression. Windows 8 has flopped, damaging both the company and the PC market as a whole. Major changes are needed, and they were needed yesterday; there’s no more time for Microsoft to sit on its hands.

“Last year we had Windows 8. In the next few minutes, the next few days, we’ll be releasing Windows 9,” Microsoft France President Alain Crozier recently said.

Since then, Nicolas Petit, another Microsoft France exec, attempted to backtrack on that.

“We look forward to seeing you in late September, in San Francisco, for the future of Windows, which actually at this stage does not have a name as such,” Petit said when speaking to The text was translated using a translation plug-in.

These words were reportedly uttered just days before an event that Petit alluded to, which will be held on September 30. Microsoft is widely expected to give the world its first look at Windows 9 during this event, though nothing has been officially announced yet.

Either way, we’re just days away from finding out what Microsoft’s plans for Windows are.

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