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Windows 8.1 was released just over a month ago. In spite of that fact, the tech community is already wondering when – and what – the next Windows 8 upgrade will be.
And we don’t blame them. After all, Windows 8.1’s release was a massive disappointment fraught with driver errors and mouse control issues when playing PC games. Windows 8.1 didn’t exactly leave PC users thirsty for more, but it did leave them wondering what Microsoft had to offer next.
Here are some of the features that may be included on Windows 8.2:
Bring back the Start button
Microsoft trolled Windows 8 users hard by including a Start button in Windows 8.1, but then disabling the Start button from actually doing anything useful. Instead of opening up the menu that Windows users have been familiar with for decades, the Windows 8.1 Start button takes users to their little-used app page. Nobody really wanted that. In Windows 8.2, Microsoft might finally cave to consumer demand, but given the trend of past Windows updates, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
More support and better aesthetics for non-touchscreen users
With Windows 8, Microsoft appeared to refuse acknowledging the fact that some Windows users don’t own touchscreens. Windows 8 was difficult for non-touchscreen users to control. Windows 8.1 removed some of these problems, but issues still remain.
With Windows 8.2, Microsoft will continue to optimize its OS for non-touchscreen users – something it should have been doing from day one.
One Microsoft app store
Windows Phone has well over 100,000 apps. The Windows 8 store doesn’t have anywhere close to that number of apps. That’s bad for Microsoft and confusing for users, which is why outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer is encouraging Microsoft to adopt a One Microsoft policy.
One Microsoft might manifest itself in Windows 8.2 as a unified app store, which would be very helpful for Windows RT users who are stuck with the limited number of apps currently available on the Windows 8 App Store.
When will Windows 8.2 be released?
It’s impossible to say when Windows 8.2 will be released, but most expect the gap to be shorter than the gap between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1
I expect Windows 8.2 will be released sometime in early 2014 – likely Q2. It will be free for existing Windows 8 users.
Could it be Windows 9?
We haven’t heard anything from Microsoft about Windows 9 and we likely won’t hear about it for quite some time. But around the time that Windows 8.2 is released, we may start to hear rumors about Microsoft’s next major operating system upgrade. Look for Windows 9 (or whatever they call it) to fully embrace Microsoft’s One Microsoft vision by unifying Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Windows RT.