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Windows 9 will be unveiled in just a few days. Leaked screenshots and even some videos have appeared online, but we can’t comment on the authenticity of those releases.
So instead of talking about the early leaks – which look okay, I guess – let’s talk about the features Microsoft needs to put in Windows 9 to win back a user base that was disappointed by Windows 8:
9) The Start Menu
Microsoft’s decision to remove the Start Menu in Windows 8 has been rightfully compared to Coca-Cola’s decision to abandon the original recipe and launch “New Coke”.
Why did Microsoft remove one of its most beloved features? Why would Microsoft not even give users the option of enabling the Start Menu? I don’t know why, son. But in Windows 9, we want that Start Menu back. Pretty please?
8) A more unified OS experience between Windows, Windows Phone, and the Xbox One
Microsoft makes operating systems for desktops, tablets, smartphones, and game consoles. Unfortunately, none of those operating systems are that well connected.
I mean, look at what Apple has done with its iPhone. You can switch calls from your iPhone to your Mac with ease. Android lets you type out text messages on your computer and send those texts over your phone – even if your phone is on the other side of the house.
Microsoft should do something similar with Windows Phone. We’ve heard Microsoft talk the talk with the whole “One Microsoft” OS thing. Now it’s time for them to walk the walk.
7) A smarter update process
Microsoft’s update cycles have grown increasingly annoying. Back in the day, you had to manually update Windows by going to the Microsoft website, installing a large patch, and then manually restarting your PC.
In Windows 7 and 8, Microsoft took a different approach. Now, Microsoft will silently download upgrades in the background of your system (that’s good!) before constantly prompting you to restart your PC every few hours before finally restarting your PC if you don’t respond in 15 minutes (that’s bad!).
I know I’m not the only one who leaves my PC on overnight. If I’m working on Office documents or have 25 research-related Chrome tabs open, the last thing I want is to wake up to my PC on the Windows login screen and realize that it automatically rebooted itself to install Windows updates.
Fortunately, Office uses auto-save and Chrome almost always restores its tabs automatically after a restart. But still, it’s annoying.
Microsoft, I swear I’ll restart my PC when I get a chance. Just back off for a second, please, and make your updates less intrusive.
6) A commitment to PC gaming
Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live initiative was misguided. Unfortunately for PC gaming fans, it’s also the only real time Microsoft has paid attention to PC gamers.
Windows 8 added small acknowledgments to PC gamers – like a Games folder. But some additional features would be nice – especially since PC gaming-related hardware sales have exploded with growth in recent years.
Don’t you know that gamers are starting to become your best customers, Microsoft?
5) Make legitimate built-in antivirus software
Microsoft’s built-in security software has never been good. In fact, it’s used as the bottom baseline for most tests. That’s why the entire PC antivirus and malware scanner community exists.
But if Microsoft put a dedicated programming team together and told them to build a legitimate security suite and keep that suite updated, then I can see Windows losing some of its “virus and malware” reputation.
At the same time, we wouldn’t need to install low-quality third-party scanners that try to upsell you on something you don’t need.
4) Embrace the beauty of 4K
4K is entering the mainstream at a surprising speed. Microsoft would be smart to embrace 4K with loving arms. After all, 4K monitors will probably be the most popular type of monitor before Windows 9 reaches the end of its life cycle.
Unfortunately, on Windows 8, Microsoft has not done a great job of embracing 4K. It’s just too much resolution for the OS – and most software programs – to handle. The scaling is fuzzy and blurry. If you just paid over $1,000 for a 4K display, then the last thing you want is a fuzzy, blurry screen.
Fix the scaling problems, Microsoft, and give higher-end users some bonus options today. After all, this year’s high-end consumers with 4K monitors are next year’s mid-range consumers.
3) Make the Windows App Store the best it can be
The Windows App Store has come a long ways from its first foray onto the internet. But it’s still far from perfect. There are lots of junky, ad-filled programs on the store and some of the bigger companies have refused to develop apps for Microsoft.
To make matters worse, Mozilla recently deleted the Windows 8 Firefox app from the Windows App Store.
Clean up the junk apps, use some of the cash to build legitimate Windows apps. And keep pushing until your app store matches up well against your competitors.
There’s also rumors of unifying Microsoft apps across Microsoft operating systems. So the apps you download on Xbox One could also be downloaded on Windows 9 for a seamless experience. That sounds awesome.
2) Cool voice communications
I want to be able to talk to my PC. And sure, it would be pretty cool if that voice assistant also had the silky smooth voice of Cortana from Halo.
That’s why I’m fully on-board with whatever voice activation gimmicks Microsoft wants to pull with Windows 9. I want voice commands like:
“Cortana, open iTunes and play some Eminem”
“Cortana, let’s play some Civilization V”
“Cortana, can you turn on my Xbox One so I don’t have to talk to my Xbox One when I walk to my living room?”
“Cortana, tell me a sexy joke”
I’m going to be honest: I hate talking to my smartphone when I’m out in public. Most people also hate talking to their smartphones because most people look really dumb while doing it.
But in the privacy of my own home, I would be perfectly okay with Cortana keeping me company on those long, cold Saturday nights alone.
1) Give us some good upgrade incentives
Microsoft, we’ve been through a lot of crap from you over the past few years. Sure, the hatred towards Windows 8 wasn’t totally deserved (it wasn’t as bad as ME or Vista, especially after the first few patches). But still, as your loyal customers, you should probably throw us a bone.
I don’t want Windows for free because that’s very unlikely to happen. What I do want is an attractive upgrade offer that makes me want to download Windows 9 to replace Windows 7 the moment it’s released.
If you can do that, I’m on board. But if you expect me to pay more than, say, $60 or $70 to upgrade to your new OS, I’m sticking with Windows 7 for a few more years.