Once upon a time, Windows provided a reliable source of revenue for Microsoft. But with Windows 8 reportedly losing market-share, and millions of people refusing to move from the aged Windows XP to a more modern platform, the future of Windows seems a little cloudy.
In order to regain momentum, Microsoft is working feverishly on a version of Windows that will convince everybody still on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 to upgrade posthaste. But what will this new platform, which would likely hit the market in 2015, actually feature? What will it eliminate from Windows 8, which received middling reviews upon its release in late 2012?
According to The Verge (which cited “Windows enthusiast site” Winbeta), the next version of Windows—which everybody is calling Windows 9, at least for the moment—won’t include Charms, a series of icons that allow Windows 8 users to search, share, access the Start screen and settings, and send data to connected devices such as a phone or printer. While some of that functionality will reportedly find its way into Windows 9’s taskbars, Charms themselves will end up in history’s dustbin of dead tech.
Why kill Charms? Microsoft apparently wants to make Windows 9 much friendlier to mouse and keyboard input than Windows 8, and the elimination of this touch-centric feature could prove a key way of going about it. The decision could also reflect Microsoft’s desire to make Windows 9 more of a “desktop first” product, given the lukewarm reaction to the Start screen, where Charms reside.
The biggest question is whether Microsoft can count on Windows as a major revenue driver for years to come. Today, with mobile devices and the cloud taking center-stage in most folks’ computing lives, there’s arguably a declining need for a robust desktop operating system. Microsoft hasn’t been totally blind to that fact: Windows 8 was meant to give the company an aggressive entry into the tablet market—but two years later, iOS and Google Android continue to dominate that segment.
If Windows 9 represents a decisive shift back to the desktop, that could allow Microsoft to re-solidify its presence among the core Windows audience. But how much of a “core Windows audience” will exist in five years?
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