While we sit here cozying it up with Windows 8.1, Microsoft is already planning - if not already developing - the next update to Windows. Currently known as Threshold or Windows 8.2, this update is rumored to bring back the Start menu, the ability to have "windowed" Metro/Modern apps, the possible combination of Windows RT and Windows Phone, and the likely hood of all this happening by 2015.
So what exactly is this "Threshold" update we keep hearing about all over the internet and on tech blogs? Mary Jo Foley, a well respected Microsoft watcher, has reported that what we have been terming Windows 9, has an official codename, being called "Threshold". The word, for non-gamers out there, is derived from the original Halo game, where it was the name of the planet enveloped by the first Halo ring.
"We are going to be in for some exciting stuff in 2014."
"From what I've heard, Threshold doesn't refer to a single Windows OS -- not even the expected, converged hybrid comprised of the Windows Phone OS and Windows RT. Instead, the codename refers to the wave of operating systems across Windows-based phones, devices and gaming consoles," Foley states.
Similar to Windows Blue and Windows Phone Blue, we may see a new round of updates to Windows and Windows Phone. Could this be the update that bring desktop, tablet, phones, consoles and other devices closer towards using the same operating system? That's what it's starting to sound like!
Then there is talk about a returning Start menu in Threshold. When Microsoft rolled out Windows 8.1, it was merely an update to Windows 8 - bringing along numerous fixes and improvements based on consumer feedback. Windows 8.1 brought us the Start button, a feature that was sorely lacking on Windows 8. With the upcoming Windows 8.2 update, we are expecting to see the return of the Start menu.
This begs the question, will we see the old Start menu we have come to love since Windows XP, or will it be some sort of Start Screen/Start menu hybrid? We have even heard the idea of a "mini" Start menu. We are left with assumptions and rumors until Microsoft clears the air - hopefully soon.
There is also talk about implementing the traditional "windowed" feel to modern apps, complete with the ability to minimize, maximize, and close apps with ease. This can allow for modern apps to run in a window on the desktop. Again, Microsoft has yet to shed light on this rumor, so we are left wondering if this will actually happen or not.
So when are we expected to see these updates? There is a rumor about an "Update 1" for Windows 8.1 arriving during Spring of 2014, and this rumor comes from Mary Jo Foley. No details are given as to what this update would contain, or if this update is the Threshold update. We may even see this update alongside Windows Phone 8.1. We are also hearing that this big refresh to Windows "could be with us by the first half of 2015."
Microsoft has yet to shed some official light on the matter, so we are left - as usual - in the proverbial rain for now. Either way, it sounds like we are going to be in for some exciting stuff in 2014.