Windows Threshold Event: 6 Things To Expect - InformationWeek

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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.

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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.

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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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User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2014 | 3:47:51 PM
Windows 8 was and continues to be a bust. The fact that there are so many that are unwilling to update says alot.

I am surprised at the number of users still on XP. I believe 7 is a better OS and it's supported.

Hopefully MS gets this next release right but how many times are they going to stumble ? If the continue it will catch up to them. Other OS's are gaining ground. More so than when they introduced Vista.
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