A leaked document from Microsoft has suggested that the next version of Windows — provisionally named Windows 9 — will be released in the second or third quarter of 2015. This next-generation operating system has already attracted both excitement and criticism for its predicted features and style.
Windows 9 is expected to build on the changes first introduced in Windows 8, which revolutionized the layout of the operating system, replacing the traditional PC desktop with a mobile-style Start Screen filled with visually appealing icons. While this layout worked brilliantly on mobile devices that feature a touchscreen, many desktop and laptop users of the original version of Windows 8 missed the ubiquitous presence of the Start Menu, which had been such a prominent feature of earlier versions of Windows.
The Start Menu is expected to make a comeback in Windows 9, although it could be remodeled to include some of the widgets present on the Windows 8 Start Screen. This is an attempt by Microsoft to offer users the best of both worlds, combining the Start Menu that desktop users love with the exciting interactivity of the Live Tiles first seen in Windows 8. Many critics attacked Microsoft for taking away the Start Menu from Windows 8, calling it a serious mistake and suggesting that the change could even have been responsible for a decline in computer sales during 2013. The reintroduction of the Start Menu looks like an admission by Microsoft that it made a mistake.
One big potential change is that Windows 9 could be sold as a subscription, rather than as a permanent license. This pricing model could put off many users, who prefer to purchase a single license and then use the same version of Windows for the entire lifetime of their device. On the other hand, some experts believe that the price of Windows 9 could be significantly lower than previous versions of the Windows operating system, due to competition from other operating systems, which are particularly popular on mobile devices. Some speculate that the base price of Windows 9 could be very low, with users able to pay extra fees to get exactly the features they need. This flexibility could be very attractive for home users, who often do not use all the features that typically come with Windows.
Rumors abound that the beta version of Windows 9 could be released as early as the fall of 2014. During the beta version, a small group of enthusiasts will use the operating system and identify any bugs or other issues. Once this beta launch occurs, there will be much more information available about the new features that users can expect to see when Windows 9 officially launches in 2015.
Photo courtesy of Vernon Chan at Flickr.com
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