We may get our first taste of Windows 9 this year

Windows 8 hasn't been Microsoft's biggest success. The OS is barely a blip on the chart with only a 6% install base, whilst older versions such as 7 and XP continue to grow despite the overall decline of the PC market. There are those who would argue the OS brought some forward-thinking features; but before the OEMs were ready for them.

Microsoft released the ‘Surface Pro’ which displayed the optimum form factor for the OS, but was considered too "clunky" to be used as a tablet for the laptop and tablet replacement it claimed to be. As technology became more efficient, smaller designs became possible. This year we've started to see great Intel-core devices from the Surface Pro 3, to the ASUS Transformer Book T300, with thin and fanless designs which really complement Windows 8.

But despite improved hardware, and subsequent software updates, Windows 8 seems to have left a permanent sour taste in users' mouths. Like Windows Vista, it's a release which Microsoft will undoubtedly want to put down to the company's "every other release is good" curse and sweep it under the rug. If rumours are to be believed, however, it might not be much longer until we get our first taste of Windows 9...

"Windows Threshold" is thought to be the current codename for a series of updates which will bring the various OS' closer together to ease cross-device development. The final result will be Windows 9, which will enter public preview later this fall according to a report.

As a result of this sped-up release cycle, Update 2 will now arrive around the end of July and is unlikely to bring the kind of major changes found in Update 1. The "Mini Start Menu" first glimpsed at Build 2014 is now part of the Threshold updates.

Windows 8 focused on supporting the rising touch-based market. It was a pleasure to use on a pure tablet device, but a nightmare to use via a traditional keyboard and mouse set-up. Update 1 added the ability to boot directly to the "desktop" for users on such set-ups.

Windows 9 is said to have an increased focus on supporting the desktop through a multitude of improvements, including bringing back the start menu enhanced with Live Tiles. The OS will automatically switch to the start screen when a keyboard isn't detected to provide an optimum experience for users' individual requirements. Word on other features are scarce at this point, but the most prevalent is the inclusion of a notification center to keep track of and manage updates.

Sources claim that Windows Threshold will be a free upgrade for Windows 8.1 customers and possibly even Windows 7 Service Pack 1 customers.

Will you give the Windows 9 preview a try? Let us know in the comments.

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