Windows 9 Release Date And Features: All The Latest Details

Windows 8 was something of an Vista-moment for Microsoft. With Windows 9, Microsoft is aiming to create its next "Windows 7" platform

When Windows 8 launched it was the most radical update to the planet’s primary OS since Windows 95. That’s because Windows 8 ditched what is probably the most noticeable bit of UI in history – the Start menu – in favour of the Metro tiled interface. Of course, after the Windows 8 launch the new OS failed to impress users and some say it even lead to a fall in PC sales (although other things like tablets and smartphones had to contribute to that decline).
In the last several months, rumours about Windows 9 have begun leaking out and it appears that with it Microsoft is hoping to reverse the tide and win back its fans. Plenty has already been said about redesigns, changes to licensing to the return of old favourites from Windows 7.
Here’s everything we know so far.

Name: Windows 9 “Threshold” 

Right now all the rumours point to Windows 9 being called “Threshold”. Now, before you jump on the bandwagon and say how stupid a name that is, know that it’s most likely just an internal development codename, not the final marketing name of Windows 9.

Windows 9 Release date

Most likely Windows 9 will ship to the public in the spring of 2015 and not before then. That would make it almost two years after the ill-received Windows 8 release. There have been some rumours of an Autumn 2014 release, but that timeframe is likely for the next – and final – update for Windows 8.1 Update 2 or Windows 8.2.
Alternatively, this rumoured Autumn 2014 timescale could be the date of an early developers’ build of Windows 9.

Windows 9 Price 

This is where things start to get interesting. It appears that Windows 9 will be free to download, according to some reports. This makes sense if Microsoft is following in the footsteps of Apple, which now makes its OS X free to all users in order to make sure they are running the latest software on their Macs.
In Apple’s case, this benefits them because with iOS 8, iOS and OS X will work together more seamlessly than ever. Ensuring your ecosystem’s users all have the latest OS makes things better for them and easier for your backend.
There are rumours that Windows 9 will look a bit different depending on the device you are running it on (more on that below). If this is the case it – and Microsoft wants increased unity across its device ecosystem – giving the OS away for free to entice everyone to upgrade to it makes a lot of sense.
But don't get too excited.
Unlike OS X, which Apple hardly makes any worthwhile revenue from, Windows is Microsoft’s cash cow. So it’s not likely that they’ll just stop charging for it entirely. There have been references floating around to “Windows 365” which suggests that the company may go to a subscription-based model for the OS.
I’m not sure how people would take this. I know I wouldn’t want to pay a subscription for my OS.
But if it is a subscription-based OS, where does the “free” come in? It’s likely a basic version of Windows 9 will be a free download, perhaps one free download for one machine for each Windows Store account. Beyond that users will have to subscribe in order to get major updates and access to more advanced features, in a similar fashion to how Microsoft brought Office for iPad to market.

Windows 9: One OS, Multiple Devices

And what will those more advanced features be? Well, there’s the usual stuff: the business and enterprise features that many home users don’t care about. But then there’s the supposedly new features rumoured in Windows 9 that suggest that Microsoft is interested in having one OS look and work slightly differently depending on the device it is used on (tablet, hybrid, or desktop/laptop).
Since Windows 9 is rumoured to bring back the Start menu (see below) for certain devices (desktops) and retain the tiled interface for others (tablets), yet still ship as one system, it’s entirely possible that a paying subscription allows you to unlock whatever interface you want on any device.

Windows 9: Metro Apps Get The Windowed Treatment

In addition to the “one OS, multiple device” Microsoft is also said to be keen on allowing users to open Metro apps in individual windows pinned to the taskbar in Windows 9. Under Windows 8, Metro apps always opened in full-screen, forcing users to work full-screen even when they didn’t want to. This makes some sense on a tablet  – after all, all apps on the iPad are full-screen (for now) –, but on a desktop, which typically has much larger screens, forcing users to work in full-screen didn’t make a lot of sense.
With Windows 9 users will now still be able to work in the beautiful Metro-style apps, but they’ll be able to run them in windows alongside other regular desktop apps.

Windows 9: Start Menu, Welcome Back

But perhaps the biggest change to Windows 9 will be the return of the Start menu. Microsoft actually previewed this earlier this year, and many assumed it make its way into Windows 8.1, but it appears the Start menu’s return will actually be reserved for Windows 9.
But the Start menu won’t just be the old Start menu. According to leaked screenshots the old Start menu will be combined with a tiled menu that’s attached to the right edge of it. This tiled, Metro-like menu will offer quick access to apps and information. It’s a nice compromise by Microsoft, bringing back the old, but adapting it to meet the changing times and gently edging users into the future of a tiled interface (which works very, very well on Windows Phone) instead of forcing them into it completely, a mistake it made with Windows 8.

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