Posey's Tips & Tricks
What's the Deal with Windows 8.2?
In one of my previous columns I mentioned that Microsoft had been suspiciously quiet about their work on Threshold (Windows 9). In that post I speculated that it was in Microsoft's best interest to spend some time getting Windows 8 right before they recklessly jumped into another operating system release. Since the time that I wrote that blog post, there have been a lot of rumors about Windows 8.2 and about Windows 9. In this column I wanted to take the time to address some of those rumors.
Before I get started, let me just say that everything in this piece is based on publicly circulating rumors and personal speculation. I don't have any inside information from Redmond.
With that said, one of the biggest debates that is going on right now is whether Microsoft will release a Windows 8.2 or if they will try to hurriedly abandoned Windows 8 in favor of Windows 9. As I have said for a while now, I think that Microsoft is going to spend some time trying to refine Windows 8 before they move to Windows 9. Doing so would clearly be in their best interest because it would give them a chance to gauge public perception and learn from mistakes before releasing a new operating system.
Of course I openly acknowledge the fact that there are those who disagree with me. Some people have said that Microsoft will release Windows 9 later this year. I have also heard people say that Microsoft has no ability to learn from past mistakes.
One thing that I had heard was that a major Windows 8 update was going to be released on patch Tuesday in August. While this ended up not being true, it did make sense at the time that Microsoft would release an update in that time frame because it roughly coincided with a Windows Phone update release.
So let's pretend for a moment that the speculation was partially true, and that Microsoft will be releasing Windows 8.2 sometime in the near future. The next logical question then becomes what to expect in that release.
Right now, there simply are not any firm details. After all, we don't even know for sure that Windows 8.2 is going to be released. Even so, there are two features that are being heavily speculated as being a part of the Windows 8.2 release.
The first of these features (and in my opinion the more likely of the two) is the return of the Start Menu. Microsoft has already confirmed that it is bringing back the Start Menu. What the company hasn't made public is the timeframe for doing so. My guess is that the Start Menu will return in the Windows 8.2 timeframe, although it is entirely possible that we may have to wait for Windows 9.
One of the things that lends credibility to the Start Menu speculation is that some screen captures have been leaked. If you haven't seen the screen captures yet, the new start menu looks like a hybrid menu that combines a Windows 7-style start menu with Windows 8 live tiles. It sounds awkward, but the samples that I have seen look surprisingly workable.
The other rumor surrounding the Windows 8.2 release is that it will be become possible to run Windows Store apps in resizable windows on the desktop. Again, we know that this functionality is coming eventually, but we really don't know when. My guess is that we are probably going to have to wait for Windows 9 for this one.
Regardless of whether Windows 8.2 comes to fruition or not, I am thankful for the updates that Microsoft has provided to date. I will be the first to admit that Windows 8.1 is not perfect. Even so, I'm glad to see that Microsoft is at least making an effort to improve Windows 8 rather than merely using Windows 8 as a way to drum up sales for Windows 9.
Brien Posey is a 20-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.