Posey's Tips & Tricks

Why Isn't Microsoft Talking About Windows 9?

While many have speculated that Windows 9 news should have arrived by now, it appears Microsoft is staying tight lipped in favor of fixing Windows 8.

Leading up to last month's Build conference, there was a lot of speculation that the highlight of the conference was going to be the official announcement of Windows 9. That didn't happen. While there was certainly no shortage of announcements coming out of the Build conference, Microsoft was surprisingly tight lipped about Windows 9. The same goes for the company's TechEd conference. Not a single word about Windows 9 was uttered.

Even though I don't have any inside information about Windows 9, I have spent the last 20 years of my life writing about Microsoft, and I think that I might have figured out what is going on.

It's not exactly a secret that most people don't like Windows 8. I think that one of the big mistakes that Microsoft made when they released Windows 8 was to try to do too much all at once. Microsoft attempted to radically reinvent Windows, but ended up alienating a lot of customers in the process. Microsoft knows that when they release Windows 9, they have to get it right. Otherwise, long-time Windows customers are probably going to look for other alternatives. They aren't going to be able to give us another operating system that looks nothing like previous versions. Similarly, they probably aren't going to try to create an operating system with hundreds of new features either, because such operating systems tend to be really buggy. Remember Windows 95?

With the stakes around Windows 9 being so high, it would be foolish for Microsoft to simply create an operating system, put it on the market and then wait to see whether or not people like it. Microsoft needs to make sure that they are on the right track before they build and release Windows 9.

One way to do that is by fixing Windows 8. Think about it for a minute. Microsoft isn't incurring a lot of risk by tinkering with Windows 8. The operating system has already been largely ostracized, so Microsoft probably won't lose a lot of customers if they make a change that makes Windows 8 worse. On the other hand, they could potentially gain customers if they dramatically improve Windows 8. In either case, they can use what they learn as they work toward building Windows 9.

I honestly can't help but to wonder if history might be repeating itself. Back in the days of Windows XP SP1, Windows was plagued with security problems. There was so much backlash against Windows XP that Microsoft actually stopped working on Windows Vista (which was called Longhorn at the time) and incorporated Longhorn code into Windows XP SP2 as a way of appeasing outraged customers.

The reason why I wonder if history could be repeating itself is because a lot of the things that were rumored to be a part of Windows 9 are going to happen as a part of Windows 8. For example, Windows 8.1 Update (or Windows 8.1 Update 1 as some are calling it) added automatic boot-to-desktop for non-touch screen devices. Another upcoming update brings back the Start menu. Also, just recently, Microsoft also announced that Visual Studio is going to be updated to allow developers to easily port their code to Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and even to Xbox One.

Windows 9 was also rumored to bridge the gap between the desktop and the Start screen by allowing modern apps to be placed in windows and run on the desktop alongside traditional Windows applications. However, this capability is being delivered in an update to Windows 8 instead (some speculate that this will be part of Windows 8.2).

With all of the improvements that Microsoft is making to Windows 8 and the fact that they have suddenly stopped talking about Windows 9, I just can't help but to get the sense that Microsoft wants to get Windows 8 right before moving on to Windows 9. 

Until somewhat recently, Microsoft had been taken a very stubborn attitude toward Windows 8. It was as if they were telling customers that"this is the way that it's going to be, so get used to it." Now, it seems that the company is reversing course and actually listening to customers as opposed to trying to strong-arm them. One can't help but to wonder if new CEO Satya Nadella has set the company on this new course. If so, then I think that Nadella will be very good for Microsoft.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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