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Windows 9 is going to be announced at the end of this month.
That’s exciting news for Windows fans who disliked Windows 8 and refused to upgrade. It’s also exciting news for anybody who upgraded to Windows 8 and wants their Start menu back.
But should you be excited for Windows 9? Well, to help you decide, here’s everything we know about Microsoft’s newest operating system (or at least everything we think we know):
Is it called Windows 9?
You would think this is a basic piece of information. But it’s not really. Windows 9 has not been mentioned in any leaks from Microsoft or sources. Instead, everything we know is called “Project Threshold”.
Project Threshold could be Windows 9. Or it could be something completely different. There’s even some rumors that Microsoft will totally eliminate the “numbered” Windows names and simply call this next OS “Windows”.
Anyways, Microsoft may not even reveal the name of this OS on September 30. But for now, calling it Windows 9 is a safe bet.
Desktop computers will only have one desktop view on Windows 9
Here’s exciting news for anyone who hated the Metro UI/Modern UI in Windows 8: Windows 9 is getting rid of Modern UI on traditional Windows 9 desktop computers.
Instead of awkwardly switching between desktop and Modern views, users will remain in desktop view.
The unique Metro tiles, however, aren’t totally gone. Microsoft is keeping those tiles to the right of the Start Menu. In leaked previews, those tiles have showcased tiles like “People”, “Calendar”, and “Skype”. There’s even a tile for Microsoft Feedback.
If Microsoft is smart, then it will make these tiles totally customizable and totally removable. I think that Start menu looks a bit crowded – and we don’t need links to random news stories on Microsoft-affiliated websites.
Charms bar is dead
One of the most frustrating parts of Windows 8’s interface was the Charms bar. The Charms bar wasn’t that bad once you got used to it. But for early Windows 8 adopters, it was simply confusing.
The Charms bar was so confusing that many Windows 8 users had to turn to Google just to figure out how to shut down Windows 8. Instead of simply going to the Start menu and pressing the power button, users had to swipe down from the right hand side of the screen to open the Charms bar, and then go to Power > Shut Down.
It was a convoluted process and very few users ever caught the hang of it. According to early reports from Windows 9, the Charms Bar has been removed.
Full-screen apps are gone
Another one of many stupid Windows 8 changes was the decision to make all Windows apps full-screen only. There was no option to resize app windows or run them in windowed mode.
That was annoying and very un-PC-like. With Windows 9, Microsoft is expected to change that feature and make Windows apps “windowed” – which makes sense for a desktop OS called “Windows”.
Mac OS X and Linux users have long enjoyed the use of virtual desktops. Virtual desktops let you slide between multiple desktops according to different work environments. Maybe you have a “college homework” virtual desktop and a “gaming” virtual desktop, for example.
It’s a simple feature that can greatly increase productivity. Windows 9 is surrounded by virtual desktop rumors. That would be a great improvement – and something that would take away one of the major advantages of Mac OS X.
Windows 9 RT for mobile devices will be more like “traditional” mobile desktops
According to rumors, Microsoft is making Windows 9 RT more like traditional mobile operating systems. If you read between the lines, that means Microsoft is ditching some unique Windows Phone / Windows 8.1-type features and replacing those features with more Android / iOS-type features.
Specific mobile features include being able to run “Universal Windows Apps” which are capable of running across all Windows OSes.
Another rumor is that Windows RT and Windows Phone will finally merge (something Microsoft should have probably done a long time ago). iOS and Android have both merged their tablet and smartphone OSes, and it no longer makes sense for Microsoft to confuse users with “RT” tablets.
Over the past few months, Microsoft has been actively developed a voice assistant called Cortana (yes, like the chick from Halo). That voice assistant is designed to compete with Google Now and Siri.
However, Microsoft isn’t just releasing Cortana for Windows Phone. It’s also rumored to be including it on Windows 9.
That could either be really cool or really lame. I can’t see myself talking to my computer, but if I can say something like “Hey Cortana, play me some Arctic Monkeys” while I’m busy typing away at work, then that could be a huge productivity booster.
Ultimately, it’s all rumors and speculation at this point. Wait until September 30 for the full Microsoft reveal of Windows 9 (or is it Project Threshold?).
A possibly cheaper price
Microsoft needs its core user base to move away from Windows 7 and Windows XP – which is where nearly 3 out of 4 Windows users currently are. To do that, it needs to offer some great incentives.
That’s good, because we’re already getting excited about early Windows 9 pricing rumors. Microsoft may be throwing a lot of incentives at existing Windows users to get them to upgrade. Those incentives include an “awesome” perk for existing Windows XP users.
There’s also rumors that Microsoft could offer Windows 9 for free to existing Windows 8.1 users. That would be a smart move, considering those Windows 8.1 users are probably not too impressed by Microsoft abandoning their operating system so quickly.
I would expect Windows 9 upgrade offers to range from free (for Windows 8 users) to around $40 (for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 users).
A fall preview release date and a spring release date
It feels like Windows 8 just came out. But according to all rumors, Microsoft is ready to push out Windows 9 as soon as possible.
Apparently, the Windows 9 Technical Preview will be available soon after the September 30 press conference. That Technical Preview will be freely available to download from Microsoft’s website, but will only be recommended to “advanced” users.
Meanwhile, the general public release of Windows 9 is rumored to be in Spring 2015 – once again, not far away.