Next month will probably see the unveiling of the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 9, and the software giant is hoping the changes it’s made will be enough to jump-start a flagging computer industry. But just when can you get your hands on the newest version of Windows, and what can you expect?
Sources tell The Verge that Microsoft will show off the successor to Windows 8 at a special media event at the end of September. This media event is largely in line with the timeline for when Microsoft showed off Windows 8 a few years back, and the tech giant will reportedly release a preview version of the operating system around that time as well. As of yet, there is no date certain for a retail release of Windows 9, but it likely won’t come too far after the consumer preview is available.
And just what can users expect from Windows 9? Apparently, Microsoft will attempt to address the widespread consumer contempt that accompanied the release of Windows 8. With that version of Windows, Microsoft was trying to bridge the gap between traditional computing form factors – desktops and notebooks – and mobile devices like smartphones, iPads and Android tablets. Mobile devices have been gutting the traditional PC market for a few years now, and Microsoft tried to stop the bleeding by introducing a touch-centric interface in Windows 8.
It went over like a rock. Consumers hated Windows 8’s fence-straddling interface, and they found the new Start Menu confusing. The fact that they couldn’t automatically access the desktop or use their computers as they had been doing before turned off a wide range of consumers, and PC sales kept plummeting.
Windows 9, then, will backpedal on some of Microsoft’s more daring touch interface innovations. That means a retooled Start Menu that incorporates some of Windows 8’s ideas, but hearkens back to the style that users recognize from Windows 7. Microsoft will also allow users to use the “Metro-style” (read: touch-centric) apps while on the classic desktop, something that was impossible in initial builds of Windows 8.
Probably the most interesting aspect of Windows 9 is the addition of Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant. The tech giant is currently working on builds of Windows 9 that have an early version of Cortana built in. That means Windows 9 users would be able to ask their computer a question and have it answer, much like iPhone and Android users can do on tablets and smartphones.
All this is in an effort to turn around what might be a losing battle. Even if Windows 9 manages to get consumers to upgrade and buy new computers, tablets and smartphones already outsell PCs, and there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. The sad fact for Microsoft is that most people don’t really need a PC anymore, and many of the ones that do are satisfied with what an iPad can do for them.
Still, Microsoft will try to turn the tide, and Windows 9 will likely see a full launch in the next few months. Whether it will launch to raves, boos or just yawns, though, remains to be seen.
[Lead image via BossWallpapers.]