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9/27/2014
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Windows Threshold Event: 6 Things To Expect

Microsoft has much to prove when it shows off the next version of Windows at an event this Tuesday. Here's what to expect.

10 Tech Terms Millennials Don't Know
10 Tech Terms Millennials Don't Know
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On Tuesday, Microsoft will hold an event in San Francisco to reveal "what's next for Windows." The company has been vague on details, other than to confirm the event will focus on enterprise customers, but it's widely expected Microsoft will demonstrate the next version of Windows, codenamed Threshold.

Microsoft will have a lot to prove. Windows is still the dominant operating system for PCs, but thanks to weak Windows 8 adoption, competitors have begun to gain ground in important markets. Millions of businesses rely on Windows 7, and Microsoft needs to convince them that it has a sensible upgrade path. With less than 14% of PC users, Windows 8 and 8.1 are a distant third in the OS race, even though new Windows 8.1 devices are as cheap as mainstream computers have ever been. Windows XP, which isn't even supported anymore, has 70% more users. Even famously-maligned Windows Vista had more market share at the same point in its cycle.

But Microsoft might actually welcome comparisons between Windows 8 and Vista; after all, Microsoft followed up Vista with Windows 7, one of its greatest successes ever, so perhaps with Threshold, the company can similarly rebound from Windows 8. Is a comeback story in the cards? Here are six things to expect from this Tuesday's event:

1. Mouse-and-keyboard users will have their day.
With its unfamiliar interface, Windows 8 alienated many traditional PC users. With Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft attempted to undo some of the damage by making the OS less touch-reliant. In April, it previewed one of the biggest ways Threshold will appeal to desktop users: by bringing back a Start menu.

[What new tech news will this Interop bring? Read 7 Hot Technologies To Watch At Interop New York.]

Traditional PC users make up a huge portion of the enterprise market that Microsoft plans to address with Tuesday's event. Thanks to a steady stream of Threshold leaks and rumors, Windows observers expect the new OS to boot to the desktop and disable the touch-oriented Charms menu by default when installed on PCs. The Modern Start screen will still be available, however. Two-in-one devices such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 are expected to switch interfaces depending on whether a keyboard is attached. Threshold is also expected to add virtual desktops, and to allow users to run Modern apps in resizable windows as legacy applications.

A screenshot from an allegedly leaked build of Windows Threshold.
(Source: WinFuture)
A screenshot from an allegedly leaked build of Windows Threshold. (Source: WinFuture)

2. Microsoft will offer a technical preview of Windows Threshold.
Microsoft is expected to not only demonstrate Threshold, but also make it available as a technical preview. The preview reportedly won't arrive until early October, however. With the preview, Microsoft is expected to launch an opt-in feedback campaign in which users can use a Live Tile app to easily send Microsoft their reactions to the new OS. Microsoft sometimes appeared tone deaf with Windows 8 and ostensibly wants to solicit advice from users in order to ensure the final version of Threshold, rumored for spring 2015, is more satisfying. Microsoft might deploy different versions of the Threshold preview to different users based on the feedback those users provide.

3. Mobility will make a cameo.
Early next year, Microsoft reportedly will release a separate, consumer-oriented Threshold preview for ARM-based tablets and smartphones. But even if the mobile version of Threshold is months away, expect tablets to get a few mentions on Tuesday.

CEO Satya Nadella won't be present Tuesday because he'll be travelling in Asia, but his "cloud first, mobile first" philosophy is likely to set the tone. Recent desktop sales suggest there's more life to that category than

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/1/2014 | 9:42:53 AM
Re: Nothing new for the satisfied user
I think the ability to integrate with other windows devices and being able to use the previous UI as default would really drive people excited about the next windows.  Microsoft really needs to work on getting more apps to their library.  Microsoft really needs to work on their marketing if they want to catch up with android and apple in the smartphone market or may be it just too late.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/30/2014 | 10:30:08 PM
Re: Nothing new for the satisfied user
"Unfortunately, manufacturers whose products benefit from device integration are ignoring the touch-first side of Windows.  They advertise iOS and Android apps.  Once in a blue moon I see Windows Phone and to an even lesser extent, the touch side of desktop Windows."

Definitely true.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/30/2014 | 10:26:31 PM
Re: windows
@Technocrati,


Indeed! But after Halloween, OEMs won't be able to buy new Win 7 licenses from Microsoft anymore. I'm sure many of the manufacturers have amassed a supply-- but who knows how long it lasts.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2014 | 9:18:43 AM
Re: Nothing new for the satisfied user
Micheal,

It did offer new and exciting features -- the whole touch side of Windows.  However, ordinary folks need apps to leverage those features.  Unfortunately, manufacturers whose products benefit from device integration are ignoring the touch-first side of Windows.  They advertise iOS and Android apps.  Once in a blue moon I see Windows Phone and to an even lesser extent, the touch side of desktop Windows.

For instance, my cable company offers an app to view most of my cable channels on Android and iOS devices.  It works great with my Android phone (but refused to run on my iPhone because it was jail broken...but that's my own choice).  However, I've been waiting for a year for it to debut on Windows.  It's still a no show.

Maybe most folks don't care if they can watch TV on their mobile device.  I think it's a great feature and I can also Miracast the stream to a SmartTV if I want a bigger picture.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2014 | 7:57:24 AM
Re: Nothing new for the satisfied user
Michael "But even if Threshold is usable, will it be persuasive to those who are still happy with Windows 7?" That's a tricky one and it can only be answered by industry once Threshold is out in the market. I hope Microsoft realizes that and has a plan to tempt satisfied Windows 7 users.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2014 | 5:54:20 AM
Re: windows
Michael

Fair enough. If Apple wants to continue targetting a specific segment and it is happy doing that then there is no point of criticizing Apple. And yes, it isn't an excuse by Apple for having lower market share; they mean it when they say they have a specific target market. Now from the shareholders' perspective, return on investment is all that counts.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 1:17:18 PM
Re: Windows 8.1
@WilliamH263

It's called Linux, not  Linix.

"IT's NOT SAFE and IT'S NOT SECURE!"

No computer sitting at home, in a company or in the cloud is never totally secure.

And as someone mentioned it below, you don't need a Microsoft account to set up a Win 8 machine.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 1:02:37 PM
Re: windows
@Michael,

Excellent summary of the current state of OS use.

One comment is that one of Windows biggest cash cows is MS Office, which is fair to state that is the defacto office suite of preference by almost all users.

Yes, both Google and Apple have very good competiting products, but the overall widespread use and acceptances of office has made it to be more easilly adopted by most enterprises and personal use.

Now...that doesn't mean that they the competition won't stay put, reason why microsoft needs to be keep innovating and keep things fresh

 

And the fact that both Apple and Google offer cloud based versions of there office products free doesn't help microsoft
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 12:54:14 PM
Re: Nothing new for the satisfied user
Another note,

Here's what competitors are able to do that I would love to do on windows.

The Chrome Cast allows to very easilly show whatever you're viewing in your web browser on the TV... that's cool.

If I was able to do that with Windows, to simply share me screen with one click, no cables, that's something to look forward to.

In fact, if Microsoft were to provide a downgraded version of the xbox one, to simply provide the streaming service of sharing your PC desktop to your TV, I think it would sell big!!!
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 12:51:36 PM
Re: Nothing new for the satisfied user
@Michael,

First...great article, and it literrally sums up my own expectations of next windows isntallment.

To your question, will the latest windows be a good upgrade option for those on Win 7? I think it might if it provides a real value add for people to want to upgrade.

I personally didn't upgrade to windows 8 mostly because it was relient on touch (which sadly aside from the Metro UI and one or two apps, you can't really take advantage of it in a desktop environment)

Now...with Windows 9, people might not flock to upgrade, but it might bridge that gap between devices, and be more of an ecosystem between the different devices (mobile, laptop, desktop, Xbox).

 
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