Posey's Tips & Tricks

Windows 9 Rumor Round Up

From Cortana integration to the return of the Start Menu, here are some of the rumors circulating online about Microsoft's next OS.

Over the last several months, I have speculated heavily on what we might expect from Windows 9. Much of what I have written about has been based on rumors that have been circulating and on my own personal knowledge of how Microsoft operates. However, it looks as if the first beta... err... make that developer preview release will shortly be here.

For at least the last month (maybe longer than that -- I was in the Arctic wilderness without Internet access for most of August) there have been a lot of rumors that Microsoft would release the Windows 9 developer preview at the end of September. It remains to be seen whether or not that will happen, but Microsoft is scheduled to host an event in San Francisco on Sept. 30. Microsoft has said that the event will be "a discussion focused on what's next for Windows." The event is said to be geared toward technical and enterprise customers. So even though Microsoft has not let the cat out of the bag, it seems at least plausible that we could see a preview release on Sept. 30.

So if Microsoft does release a Windows 9 preview at the end of the month, what can we expect from it? Obviously, there hasn't been anything official that has come out of Redmond, but there have been quite a few leaks over the last couple of weeks. The information contained within these leaks may or may not prove to be credible, but much of what I have seen does appear to be legit.

In some of my earlier blog posts, I had mentioned that there were rumors that Cortana (the personal assistant from Windows Phone 8.1) was going to be a part of Windows 9. That rumor seems to be true. A Web site called Win Future has posted pictures of what is allegedly Cortana in Windows 9.

Unfortunately, the Web site is in German and I don't speak German. Even so, there are a few things that I noticed in the screen capture. It appears that there is going to be a Search icon in the taskbar. This icon could be used as a way to launch Cortana (just as pressing the Search button launches Cortana on Windows Phone). The Cortana interface shown in the screen captures looks to be incomplete, but it is divided into tiles labeled Location, Time and Person.

There have also been rumors that Microsoft is bringing Windows Phone's Storage Sense (which monitors application storage consumption) and Wi-Fi Sense (which allows automatic connectivity to wireless access points) to the next Windows OS.

Another Windows Phone feature that appears to be making its way into Windows 9 is the Notification Center. In Windows Phone 8.1, the Notification Center is a centralized notification hub. It shows everything from missed calls to Facebook notifications. A video from Win Future shows what the Notification Center might look like in Windows 9. In the video, the Notification Center is launched from the system tray, and contains notifications from things such as File Explorer and Skype.

About the only thing that we know for sure about Windows 9 is that Microsoft is bringing back the Start Menu. Although there were some early screen captures shown at the Build conference, Win Future has provided a video of the new Start Menu in action.

I have to confess that I love what Microsoft has done with the Start Menu. It blends a Windows 8-style Start Menu with a Windows Phone 8 interface. According to the video, you will even be able to rearrange and resize live tiles on the Start Menu. The cool thing about the way that Microsoft has implemented this menu is that it can function as a dashboard. For example, in the video the live tiles were configured so that the current weather is displayed on the Start Menu. I can only imagine the potential for displaying live business data right on the Start Menu.

One thing that really surprised me about the video was that the Windows 8 Start Screen is alive and well. I thought that Microsoft would probably do away with it. However, the video makes it appear as though the Start Screen is completely disabled by default. There is a setting that can be used to toggle between using the Start Menu and the Start Screen. If the video holds true, then I applaud Microsoft for giving the people a choice between what I will refer to as Windows 8 mode and Windows 9 mode.

One last video that has surfaced (and has been pulled)  is a video showing Windows 9's support for Linux-style virtual desktops. When I say virtual desktops, I'm not referring to VDI or Desktop as a Service, but rather a technique for expanding desktop real estate by providing multiple desktop views.

It's difficult to say for sure what will make it into the Windows 9 preview, much less the final release. In any case, Sept. 30 can't come quickly enough.

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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