Windows 9 Rumors: New Start Menu, Apps on Desktop, More


Ever since Windows 8 debuted in October 2012, PC users have been searching for ways to improve Microsoft’s struggling OS. The Redmond, Wash.-based company sent out its first wave of major Windows 8 updates through Windows 8.1, which brought some minor enhancements when it premiered a year after Windows 8. But while the OS looks and feels nothing like its previous iterations, the next major overhaul could bring Windows back to its design roots. Microsoft may still be months away from announcing what could be Windows 9, but here’s a look at what we think we know so far.

The Classic Start Menu Returns

Microsoft brought back the Start button with Windows 8.1–but we have yet to see the familiar Windows Start menu. This will supposedly change with the next iteration of Windows. Sources have reportedly told Windows blogger Paul Thurrott that the traditional Windows Start menu will return. The feature is said to be optional, meaning that if you’re already accustomed to the Windows 8 “Modern UI” you won’t have to use it. It’s also possible that the Start menu functionality will only be compatible with product versions that support the desktop mode. If you don’t feel like waiting for Windows 9, there are several third-party apps that mirror the Start menu quite accurately, including Stardock Start 8 ($5) and Classic Shell.

MORE: 5 Windows 8 Apps to Bring Back the Start Menu

Windows 9, Not Windows 8.2

Microsoft is likely to rebrand the next major version of its desktop PC software as Windows 9 rather than Windows 8.2, according to Thurrott. This is largely because the company wants to distance itself from the controversy surrounding Windows 8 following its launch in Oct. 2012, sources have reportedly told the blogger.

Threshold: A More Unified Windows

The most prominent rumor surrounding the next version of Windows is its codename: Threshold. But the title is more than just an internal reference point– it’s a callback to one of Microsoft’s biggest franchises. Microsoft borrows this name from the planet around which the first halo ring orbited in the original “Halo” game, as Windows guru Mary Jo Foley reports. The Threshold update will reportedly include updates to three major platforms: the Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone.  Thus, the codename refers to the “wave” of operating systems we’ll see across Windows-based phones, laptops, tablets and Xbox gaming consoles. Part of this unification includes a singular app store that will house applications for all of its operating systems, according to Foley.

Metro Apps on Your Desktop

In the next version of Windows, you may be able to run Metro apps in floating windows on the desktop. You can already do this today with third-party tools such as Modern Mix, but this functionality could be built into the OS soon enough. As is the case with the Windows Start Menu, Thurrott says this feature may also be optional.

MORE: 8.1 Worst Windows 8.1 Annoyances And How to Fix Them

Improved Metro User Interface

In addition to possibly being able to run Metro apps on your desktop, the next version of Windows may bring some favorable changes to the tiled UI. Thurrott reports that “maturing and fixing” this interface will be a “major focus of Threshold,” although there’s no telling exactly what changes are coming.

Three Main Flavors

Despite Microsoft’s Julie Larson- Green saying that the company won’t “have three” versions of Windows in the future, there’s a chance we’ll see three different SKUs for the next Windows iteration. Foley reports that while Microsoft has a vision for a singular Windows core, there will still be multiple versions of the software. Sources have reportedly told the ZDNet columnist that there will be three main SKUs: a “modern” consumer version, a traditional PC iteration and an enterprise SKU.

The modern SKU is likely to appear on ARM-based Windows tablets and PCs, and could be part of a hybrid Windows Phone/Windows RT OS that Microsoft is rumored to be working on. The consumer SKU would target traditional PCs and will include a desktop mode like the current iteration of Windows 8.1, while the Enterprise SKU could end up being for volume licenses only. This Enterprise version would come with standard features targeted at businesses, including support for group policy and device management.

Release Date

Microsoft is expected to deliver an update to Windows 8.1 as early as Spring 2014, but we probably won’t see the next full version of Windows until Spring 2015. It was originally believed that a new version of Windows could launch in Fall 2014, but Foley writes that a trustworthy source says that seems “less and less likely.” Newer reports suggest that Windows 9 will be launching in April 2015, although there’s no confirmation just yet.

While Microsoft could be prepping Windows “Threshold” for 2015, the company is likely to release the Windows 8.1 update alongside the rumored Windows “Blue” update in Spring 2014–which would align closely with Microsoft’s Build conference scheduled for April 2.

We’ll update this article accordingly as more information surfaces. 

Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.
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  1. curmet Says:

    Look, win8 happened. I personally have no issue with it, but it’s not the end of the world or end of computers.

    What MS’s mindset is (what it seems like) that it does the extreme and then learns the balance from that. Instead of going baby steps and change one thing at a time with every new release/update, it goes overboard in some respect and puts everything on the line and then it sees what works and what doesn’t. The next version of windows, whether it is 8.2/threshold, or 9, will be like 7 is now.

    Simply because by the time a new windows is due, the kinks of and majority of annoying things are worked out.

  2. Dude man Says:

    Microsoft needs to fix their broken OS. Windows 8 was bad but at least it worked. Then I made the mistake of upgrading to windows 8.1 which prevents my graphics card driver from working and also freezes when I idle. Also, these aren’t issues with my rig. These are issues that have been effecting several windows 8.1 users.
    Who makes an OS that can’t even work properly?

  3. Eni Says:

    Windows 8 has some usability issues, but it is the future. The biggest problem with the OS no one is mentioning is the lack of HiDPI support from software vendors such as Adobe. If they want to sell PC laptops/tablets ,Microsoft needs to rally developers to support HiDPI. Why is HiDPI essential? if you are running any resolution higher than 1920×1280 the touch interface and legibility of text and icons in the applications are too small making those application unusable for touch (or even with a mouse). Meanwhile PC manufacturers are rushing headlong into producing HiDPI screens (basically the equivalent of ‘retina” on the Apple OS)

  4. David Navratil Says:

    Long time windows desktop user (XP & Win 7). Just bought my 1st laptop and it has Window 8.1 on it! Got to start learning how to use it!! Your article was great, Tks – D.N.

  5. Gagle Says:

    Some people live on a computer. Some people have a life apart from a computer. For me a computer is a tool, not life itself. I am so tired of learning a new system every time i want to use a computer or send a gmail. What if you had to spend an hour learning a new system every time you used your microwave? If you use the microwave all day you could keep abreast of the OS. But if it’s a devise use use occasionally, you would get tired of spending more time learning to use it than actually using it. Gmail is the worst.
    I’m am so tired of learning a new version every time I use my computer, I don’t want to update windows until the new version is out.

  6. Jeremy Says:


    Here’s what I want from a desktop or a laptop that doesn’t have a detachable tablet feature:

    1) the Windows 7 Start button…because I enjoy it and its easy and comfortable that’s why;

    2) spider solitaire that I can play from my desktop without having to use the f’ing games app. You would be surprised how many people do this. MILLIONS; and

    3) the ability to shut down this new always up continuous connection to the cloud. Some people use the cloud. I don’t. Some people

  7. stan hileman Says:

    This is a sad tragedy to see Microsoft take such a golden reputation and just squander it and throw it away as though it means nothing. I was a longtime loyal GM fan but now I happily drive a Toyota and I was a longtime loyal fan of Microsoft and plan to happily use an Apple. Microsoft was huge and popular and magnificent but so was the Titanic.

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