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It seems like we haven’t finished talking about Windows 8 and we’ve already moved onto Windows 9.
It’s true: Windows 9 is just around the corner. Rumors about Microsoft’s newest operating system have reached a feverish pitch over the last few weeks.
Some rumors state that Windows 9 will be announced in late July or early August. Others claim that we’re receiving a developers preview before the end of 2014. And some are saying that Microsoft is totally shaking up its internal structure, firing people, and reorganizing its company.
I don’t know who to believe anymore, but here are the top 4 most important things you need to know about Windows 9:
4) Windows 9’s UI will be suited to whichever device you’re currently using
One of the silliest parts about Windows 8 was that it tried to combine a touch-screen operating system with a desktop operating system.
The end result was an OS that didn’t do a good job at either of those things.
With Windows 9, Microsoft is planning to build the operating system around whichever device you’re currently using. In other words, you’ll see one interface when using a tablet and another, slightly different interface, when using a desktop PC.
That sounds like such a simple, obvious decision to make. I have no idea why it took Microsoft so long to figure it out.
If you have a keyboard and mouse, you’ll enjoy a traditional Windows experience. If Windows 9 doesn’t detect a keyboard and mouse upon startup, then you could enjoy a touchscreen-based experience similar to Windows 8.
3) It could be free to some Windows users
Some Windows users could be getting Windows 9 for free.
According to rumors, Microsoft will give Windows 9 licenses away for free to Windows 8.1 Update 2 users.
This makes sense. After all, Microsoft is basically ending Windows 8 less than 2 years after its release. Charging early Windows 8 adopters – many of whom are hardcore Microsoft fans – for Windows 9 would be rude, to say the least.
If you’re still using Windows 7 (like me), then you will also likely get an upgrade deal for Windows 9. Microsoft knows a large chunk of its core userbase is still using Windows 7 and will likely dangle a carrot in our faces to encourage early adoption.
2) It’s rumored to be released in April 2015
There are lots of rumors swirling around Windows 9’s release date. However, the most reliable rumors state that a preview version of Windows 9 will be released in Fall 2014 while a full-fledged consumer release is expected in April 2015.
That’s less than a year away, and that means we’re only a few months away from a brand new Windows OS.
Of course, it’s all rumors and speculation at this point. But we should at least expect to see Windows 9 earlier than September 2015, which would be three years after the launch of Windows 8. 3 years is the typical time period between Microsoft OSes.
1) The return of the Start menu
Microsoft’s continued refusal to include a Start menu in Windows 8 will go down as one of the dumbest decisions in the company’s history.
People have compared the missing Start menu with Coke’s decision to abandon its original formula in favor of “New Coke” in 1985. That didn’t work out, either.
With Windows 9, Microsoft appears ready to admit its mistakes. In Windows 8, users were lost without the Start menu.
Thousands of people had to search Google just to learn how to shut down their computers. Something as simple as logging out was extremely unintuitive.
In any case, we get the triumphant return of the Start menu with Windows 9. That change alone will be enough to attract users back to Microsoft’s flagship OS.