Microsoft apparently wants to put Windows 8.x in its rearview mirror. Or, to choose a more extreme analogy, bury it completely.
“Regardless of how usable or functional it is or isn’t, [Windows 8] has become Microsoft’s Vista 2.0—something from which Microsoft needs to distance itself, perception-wise,” ZDNet’s absurdly well-connected Mary Jo Foley wrote in a new article about the development of Windows “Threshold,” the codename for the next version of Windows. “At this point, Microsoft is going full steam-ahead toward Threshold and will do its best to differentiate that OS release from Windows 8.”
The next version of Windows could arrive sometime in 2015, three years after Microsoft released Windows 8 to mixed critical reception and less-than-stellar sales. According to Net Applications, Windows 8.x market share stands at roughly 12 percent of the desktop/laptop OS market, lagging well behind the aged Windows XP at 25.27 percent and Windows 7 at 50 percent. If that wasn’t bad enough, Windows 8.x has failed to make much of a dent in the tablet market against Apple’s iOS and Google Android, despite Microsoft retooling the operating system to better operate on touch screens.
Mary Jo Foley suggests that Windows “Threshold” will auto-detect the type of device it’s running on and adjust the user interface accordingly; for example, a user on a traditional PC will see a desktop environment, whereas someone on a tablet will see the Windows UX for touch screens, which features colorful tiles linked to applications. Hybrid devices such as Microsoft’s Surface tablet will have the ability to jump between both types of environments, depending on whether a physical keyboard is plugged in.
In theory, that active adjustment will counter one of the biggest criticisms leveled against Windows 8, namely that its use of dual interfaces—users were dumped into the “Modern” interface, and could only access the desktop by clicking or tapping on a tile—was confusing and annoying. Windows 8.1 attempted to rectify some of the problem by allowing users to boot directly to desktop. But if Mary Jo Foley’s information is correct, Microsoft’s next step isn’t slapping further Band-Aids on the current OS—it’ll launch a full-on reset with Windows 9 or whatever the company ends up naming “Threshold.”
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