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Microsoft Targets Windows 8 Holdouts with 'Threshold'

The preview of the next version of Windows could appear in the next few months and will have improvements for those who primarily use the traditional desktop environment for Win32-based applications, according to the latest rumors reported Monday.

"Threshold," which could be branded as Windows 9 (though that's by no means certain) will target large audience of Windows 7 user who want nothing to do with the Windows 8.x Modern user interface, according to a report by Mary Jo Foley in her All About Microsoft blog. At the same time, Microsoft will continue to enhance the Modern UI for tablet and hybrid laptop-tablet devices.

To accomplish this, the Threshold release will have multiple SKUs. For those who prefer the classic desktop and want to run Win32 apps, one SKU will put that front and center, according to Foley. Hybrid devices will continue to support switching between the Modern UI (also referred to as "Metro") and the more traditional desktop interface. And another SKU, aimed at phones and tablets only, will not have a desktop component, which may prove disappointing to some (myself included) who use tablets such as the Dell Venue 8 Pro. At the same time, it appears that SKU will be used for some Nokia tablets and one might presume a future Surface 3 model (and perhaps for a "mini" form factor).

As previously reported, Threshold will get a new Start menu. Microsoft in April released Windows 8.1 Update, which added a Start screen and various improvements for keyboard and mouse users, but no Start menu. Foley pointed out that the mini Start menu that was demonstrated at Microsoft's Build conference in April is expected to be customizable.

The Threshold release is expected to arrive in the spring of 2015. Meanwhile, Foley also noted a second and final Windows 8.1 Update is expected to arrive next month for Patch Tuesday, though users will have the option of opting out.

Though details of how Microsoft will improve the classic Windows desktop remain to be seen, this should be welcome news to Windows 7 shops (and perhaps some Windows XP holdouts) making long-term migration and system upgrade plans. Our research has suggested all along that shops that plan to pass on Windows 8.x will consider Windows Threshold.

Microsoft said it had no comment on the report.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/02/2014 at 8:09 AM


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