Microsoft has been struggling of late. Windows 8, the operating system designed with touch on its surface and PCs of every size and shape, has floundered. Windows 8.1, the free update that reintroduced the Start button (but not the Start menu) and brought PC users an easy 3D printer interface has had even less effect. PC sales have continued to flag, and competitors like Android and iOS continue to stick with users.
What Microsoft needs is a fresh start, a new chance to win the hearts and minds of consumers. Come 2015, the tech giant may just have that chance. Windows 9, currently thought to be operating under the codename "Threshold," is rumored to be targeting next spring for release. It's speculated that the sidelined desktop will make a return to the spotlight and the Modern UI (formely called Metro) of live tiles will take a backseat as the face of Windows.
Windows 8 was only released a year and a half ago, in October of 2012. Windows 8.1 has only been around for a few months. For Microsoft to be prepping an entire new OS for launch as soon as next spring means that the company pretty much considers Windows 8 a failure. In blunt terms: Windows 8 is Vista all over again; a total dud that has failed to resonate with users. That's one heck of an admission from a company famed for its unflinching focus.
Not many have had a chance to see behind the curtain which hides Threshold, but there is speculation floating around the Internet that Windows 9, will be a rebirth of the popular Windows 7 operating system. While nobody quite believes that Microsoft will be downgrading its OS, even basing future software on a system that was built before Microsoft tried to unify its home and mobile UI can be seen as a step backwards. Then again, the days of Windows 7 were the good old days compared to today's Microsoft.
A return with the Start menu and desktop mode — front and center — isn't a bad thing for laptops and desktop PCs. Heck, it'd be a great thing — a return to familiarity. It's never easy to admit that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but if Windows 7 taught us anything, it's that users are forgiving. We're willing to bet millions of unhappy Windows 8 users will agree that Microsoft's bold plan to use one operating system for multiple kinds of computers just didn't work. Different computers have different purposes and require different operating systems. One OS doesn't fit all. It's the same reason Google didn't just throw Android onto a cheap laptop, but instead went with Chrome OS and Chromebooks or how Apple's iOS is for its mobile products while OS X is for its notebook and desktop users.
Perhaps, if the rumors are to be believed, next year will usher in a real rebirth of the PC, with Windows 9 lighting the way.
Via ZD Net
(Raymond Wong contributed to this report.)