By Christopher Morris
Microsoft's reboot of its operating system is expected to be released at some point next year
The Microsoft Windows operating system is possibly the most successful piece of software in the history of computing. It is certainly the iconic package on which Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has built its reputation and status as the world's biggest producer of computer software.
Windows 8 slated
That Microsoft has taken a bit of a battering recently, not least because its most recent iteration of the Windows operating system, Windows 8, could be reasonably described as one of the most disastrous software releases of all time. Battered critically and unsuccessful commercially, Windows 8 has proved to be something of a disaster for Microsoft, given that the controversial alterations that Microsoft to the Windows set-up were extremely poorly received.
Additionally, Microsoft's entire business model is being challenged by the evolution in computing which is currently unfolding. The rise of the cloud promises future in which hardware is considerably less important. And Microsoft's attempts to become successful within mobile operating systems has been considerably less successful than their attempts to dominate the desktop market. Windows 8 was clearly an attempt to create a unified platform which served all modern competing systems, but ended up being jack of all trades and master of none.
Windows 9 to be massive overhaul
Thus, at this point in time Microsoft is seeking a panacea for Windows. Although public-relations dictates that the company has not officially ditched Windows 8, Microsoft has recognised that this software is irretrievable. Their solution to the problem would seem to be Windows 9, which is expected to be released at sometime during 2015.
The intention of Microsoft to overhaul its flagship operating system is indicated by the recent decision to cease mainstream software support for Windows 7. Given that this predecessor to Windows 8 is considerably more popular than the reviled update, it is clear that Microsoft needs to deliver something that its consumers actually want as a replacement.
Start menu to return
Naturally, Microsoft is keeping pretty quiet about the development of Windows 9. But a few things are known already, and there have been a few features leaks also coming out into the public domain. The first and most notable of these is that Windows 9 will feature a return of the Start menu. This was a frankly staggering omission from Windows 8, which caused Microsoft no end of opprobrium. It really is a no-brainer for them to reinstall this feature within the new Windows operating system. Microsoft has already showed off an early version of this hybrid Start menu at its Build developer conference in April.
Initially code-named 'Threshold', but likely to be released under the simple name of Windows 9, this latest Microsoft operating system will be intended to provide a unified platform for multiple devices while satisfying its core desktop audience. Thus, recent reports indicate that Windows 9 may feature the ability for the software to adapt depending on what device you're using to operate it. It would appear that if this new version of Windows is running on a tablet or hybrid device, it will support switching between a tiled mode and standard desktop mode.
Windows 9 to be free?
With competing and software economic models constantly evolving, another possible innovative feature of Windows 9 will be the ability for users to purchase extra features as they require them. This subscription based format will be a massive departure from the norm for Microsoft, but wouldn't draw comparisons with other software such as micro transactions within video games. It is mooted that the base Windows 9 operating system could be free, but that certain features would cost users extra.
In what will be viewed as an obvious response to the incredibly popular Apple App Store, Microsoft is also reportedly to connect all of his platforms considerably more closely and link them to a single App Store. Thus, Windows Phone, Windows 9, and Xbox One may become open to more intimate collaboration. At present, Microsoft has separate app stores for Windows Phone apps and those related to the Windows desktop operating system.
Contrary to previous media reports, Windows 9 probably won't see the light of day until the second half of 2015. A reportedly leaked document published by tech blog Myce, and picked up on Business Insider, suggests that both Windows 9 and Windows Phone 9 will launch between Q2 and Q3 2015. Microsoft will already be aware that this release will be of critical historical and economic importance to them.