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By Vikas Shukla

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is expected to launch a Windows 9 preview on September 30. Full release of the OS is due early next year. Several reports claim that Microsoft will give away Windows 9 to existing users for free, or offer them another lucrative incentive to upgrade to the new OS. Such deals could entice Windows 7, XP and Windows 8 users to upgrade, if Windows 9 comes with great features and user-friendly interface.

Windows 9 coming with game-changing functionality

However, there is a large number of people who have ditched Microsoft after the debacle of Windows 8. They have moved to Mac, Ubuntu, Linux and even Chrome OS. Can Windows 9 help Microsoft get them back? Well, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said at the Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this year that the company's next OS will come with "game-changing functionality" for those who want to get work done.

According to numerous leaks and reports, Windows 9 will actually have some new features aimed an improving productivity. The new OS will have Cortana virtual assistant, which will appear on the taskbar for quick access. Microsoft also is modifying the taskbar to make it interactive. The new taskbar will act like "mini-Live Tiles." Sources told Neowin that the software giant is adding the glance-and-go type feature to the taskbar to boost productivity.

What's more, Windows 9 will have the virtual desktops feature, something workaholic enterprise users love. Mac OS and Ubuntu already offer this feature. Reports suggest that the virtual desktops in Windows 9 will resemble that in Ubuntu. Microsoft also will remove that Charms bar that annoyed busy desktop users. And yes, the Start menu will make its way back with Windows 9, albeit in a modified form.

Windows 9 must be free of these distractions

These are really good features. But are they enough to encourage those who switched to other platforms to get back to Windows? Only time will tell. However, we believe Microsoft will have to do some more to attract them. For instance, those who work for a living don't want to be annoyed by apps that crave attention. They don't want to be WOWed by on-screen animations, or stare at screensavers on end. There may be some people who like these distractions. So, the company should give users a simple way to get rid of such annoyances.

Another thing is the Windows app store. It's a mess in there. Microsoft's app store is infested with scam. Fake apps turn up frequently in popular searches. Microsoft will have to resolve these issues before people currently using Mac, Chrome or Ubuntu will even consider coming back.

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Disclosure: None.

Source: Can Windows 9 Help Microsoft Win Back Lost Customers?