Microsoft is trying to put Windows 8 firmly in its rearview mirror by sparking a new discussion about its upcoming Windows 9 operating system (code-named "Threshold") to debut this April at the company's Build 2014 conference in San Francisco, according to reports.
Microsoft Threshold will be released in the spring of 2015 with alpha code available to developers as early as the end of this April, according to Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott, who reported the Microsoft moves on Saturday. Windows 9 details include the return of the Start button; the ability to run Metro-style apps within the Windows desktop environment; and the OS having closer ties to Xbox One and Windows Phone, according to the report.
"This signals an aggressive release cycle for Microsoft, but one I think it needs to execute on if it wants to be competitive in an increasingly mobile-centric world dominated by Apple. The timing is perfect. Over the next year, Microsoft will have finished its soul searching, and a new CEO will be able to put a stamp on the next Windows 9 OS," said Larry Velez, CTO and founder of Sinu, a New York-based MSP partnering with both Google and Microsoft.
Rumors of Windows 9 come as disenchantment over Windows 8.1 among enterprise customers continues to dog Microsoft. In December, Windows 8.x barely crossed the 10 percent install-base milestone compared to Microsoft's soon-to-expire Windows XP operating system, which still runs on 29 percent of PCs, according to a new report from Net Applications.
"An OS lifespan is only so long. With XP, it makes sense. But for the enterprise, I don't think they are going to want to have to consider a new OS like Windows 9 anytime soon. Most of my business this year is going to be migrating XP systems to Windows 7," said Bob Hochmutch, executive vice president of sales at SLPowers, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner. "None of my customers are thinking about Windows 8.1. Windows 9 is going to have to be remarkable if it wants to make an impression in the enterprise."
Microsoft hasn't given up on Windows 8.1. In April, Microsoft is expected to release a service pack Update 1 for the OS. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 will also take center stage at Build 2014, with developers expected to have a huge presence at the developers conference.
"Microsoft needs to be careful here. It is trying to show it's cloud-centric and moving forward to embrace the mobile PC landscape, but it needs to remember its bread and butter is the enterprise customer. And those customers don't like change. They just care about security, ease of use and a smooth transition from old to new," Hochmutch said.
Microsoft did not return request for comment for this report.
"Windows 8.1 was a first, yet imperfect, step to where Microsoft needs to go. I hope that Windows 9 will actually be a strong second step, before it's too late for Microsoft to regain its innovative lead," Velez said.
PUBLISHED JAN. 13, 2014