Microsoft codename 'Threshold': The next major Windows wave takes shape

Microsoft codename 'Threshold': The next major Windows wave takes shape

Summary: Microsoft's wave of spring 2015 updates to its various Windows-based platforms has a codename: Threshold.


When I blogged recently about Microsoft's plans on the operating-systems front following Windows 8.1, I mentioned a couple of "spring 2015" releases.


It turns out the Microsoft codename for that wave of deliverables is "Threshold."

A couple of my contacts have confirmed that Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson recently mentioned the Threshold codename in an internal email about plans for his unified operating-system engineering group.

If all goes according to early plans, Threshold will include updates to all three OS platforms (Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone) that will advance them in a way to share even more common elements.

(The codename Threshold, for those wondering, derives from the planet around which the first halo ring orbited in the original Halo game launched back in 2001. Threshold joins "Cortana," Microsoft's answer to Siri, as yet another codename with its origins in the Xbox franchise.)

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.

The Xbox One OS, Windows 8.x OS and Windows Phone 8 OS already share a common Windows NT core. As we've heard before, Microsoft is working to deliver a single app store across its myriad Windows platforms. Company officials also are laboring to make the developer toolset for all three of these platforms more similar.

But Threshold will add another level of commonality across Microsoft's various Windows-based platforms, sources said. With the Threshold wave, Microsoft plans to support the same core set of "high value activities" across platforms. These high-value activities include expression/documents (Office, and the coming "Remix" digital storytelling app, I'd think); decision making/task completion (Bing, I'd assume); IT management (Intune and Workplace Join, perhaps?) and "serious fun."

CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned this concept of high-value activities at back in July when he announced Microsoft's cross-company reorg to make the company more focused around its new "One Microsoft" mission.

Before Microsoft gets to Threshold, the company is on track to deliver an update to Windows 8.1 (known as Windows 8.1 Update 1) around the same time that it delivers Windows Phone "Blue" (Windows Phone 8.1). That's supposedly happening in the spring 2014/Q2 2014 timeframe, from what my sources have said.

I've asked Microsoft officials if they'd confirm any of this information about Threshold. No word back so far.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson said the company had no comment on "rumors and speculation."

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, PCs, Windows Phone


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Excellent

    Very much look forward to this. I wonder if this will be Windows 8.2?

    Very exciting. Windows 8 is turning out to be the best OS released in years!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Correction

      "...the best Windows OS release in 3 years."
      • Correction - "the best Windows OS released in fantasy land"

        Windows 8 sucks.
    • only a short wait

      just think: in less than two short years, you'll know!
    • Re: Very much look forward to this.

      But what is it?

      OK, so we hear there will not be three Windows a few days ago.

      Now we hear "From what I've heard, Threshold doesn't refer to a single Windows OS"

      The concept of high-value activities sounds like more buzz words from Steve Ballmer.

      If Microsoft users are waiting for a concept of high-value activities, then Microsoft users rally are far behind all other computer device users.

      The article makes little sense other than "Quick, come up with more buzz to keep Microsoft in the headlines".

      I don't get it. How is a concept of high-value activities anything new in the computing world?
      • The more I think about what the article says

        the more it looks like a way to feel-out a retraction of what was said a few days ago about not having three Windows.

        "Instead, the codename refers to the wave of operating systems across Windows-based phones, devices and gaming consoles."

        So, a wave of different Windows operating systems is what this sounds like to me. Like we already gave up on the "One Windows" thing we've been talking about all year because that would be too hard to do.
    • It's Christmas already

      We have another whole year to make fun of Window 8.x? Santa came early.
    • It also has the distinction of being

      the first OS I've skipped since Windows 2.1.

      And, as a developer, I'm not targeting either Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8.
      • Another anti-microsoft liar...

        You are a liar sir. Anyone with any computing ability at all, and someone who touts using Windows since 2.1 is very much computer literate, knows more about Windows 8 and how much better it is than 7 in so many ways. Sure, I agree 100% that the Modern UI was a not ready for prime time, though it's far better than any other tablet interface available. But you would also know that using Windows 8 "old school" method is as easy as pie. Install the free Classic Shell, then re-associate files to all desktop only apps, and you're 10 times better of than Windows 7 and still using it just the way you always have. Don't be an idiot. Oh wait, you already are....
        • I guess anonymous

          @Narg Your comments speak for themselves. You obviously think the world revolves around you, and that you are the "all wise".
        • No Windows 8 is junk.

          Windows 8 is junk compared to W7. Windows 8 doesn't have a start menu, native dvd playback.. no aero glass.. do i need to say anything more? Windows 8 will be the death of Microsoft. Windows 7 was the last greatest OS from MS and hardly anyone likes Windows 8. Most people think it's junk why do you think over 50% are on W7? Windows 8 is rubbish and needs to die faster than XP does.

          If you even think W8 is any better than W7 then your a moron and will spit out anything just to be Microsoft's lapdog. W8 is anything but innovative, if it's so innovative then why is it so hated? Many are taking one look at W8 and moving on. It's junk and it's killing the PC industry. Good luck selling that W8 is the best OS, it's far from the best, it's worst is it's Windows experience, got a really bad rating for that that's why it's classified worse than Vista. MS fixed Vista, they haven't fixed W8 yet.
          • Yes. One More Issue....

            Another issue that makes Windows 8 junk is the dreadful blurry font rendering.

            It has been a problem since the first W8 beta and they still haven't fixed it.
          • Font legibility

            I didn't notice any change in font legibility moving from Windows 7 to 8, but strangely, I did notice the fonts appearing noticeably sharper in Windows 8.1 than Windows 8. Especially on my 27" monitor.
          • Cleartype Text

            One thought, did you turn on Cleartype Text? I am not sure if it is on by default, but I suspect it might not be. Mine was turned on when I set up colour management and it took me through the Cleartype Tuner wizard after adjusting colour management settings.
          • No Windows 8 is junk.

            Well here it is... Yes under the covers Windows 8 is better than Windows 7, but who cares if the GUI blows? I've read that people go through the following five stages of Windows 8.x adoption: Denial. Confusion. Anger. Depression. Acceptance. Really? Kind of sounds like what a prisoner of war goes through, not someone who's just trying to buy an OS. I don't recall that argument when the original iPhone was introduced. People wanted it. I voted with my dollars and bought a 27" iMac and a 15" MacBook Pro with Retina display and am very pleased. That said, I'm not on board with this 'flat UI' crowd unless it's Michael Okuda designing the GUI to be like LCARS. IOS 7 blows. What's wrong with eye candy? No more Aero Glass? Really?
          • gwhuntoon, 12 years ago or so, exact same said of XP.

            Don't you recall how everyone "vowed" to stay on Win98Se and all the flak MSFT took about the interface changes and how it was no longer a "professional" looking OS?
            Also, that was the start of the fear that Microsoft could access your PC and God knows what they might do!! The talk was just as bad was with win8, we just didn't have thousands of tech forums for ABMers to bleat on and on about something the claim to not care about but can't say enough about.
            Yes, Windows Update was going to cause the earth to spin out of orbit if you took all of the speculation of doom and gloom seriously.
            I don't see much difference now except that MSFT does not own the phone and tablet markets so it's easy to blast them as having a failure on their hands.
            I would however point out that windows phone is advancing at a clip faster than the Mac when Vista was released and Apple ran the Vista vs Mac Ads (I cut through the thinly veiled, cowardly disguise to the actual message) and started to gain market share rapidly in the U.S. (worldwide there was not much movement). Windows phone jumped over 240% year over year for the last reported quarter. Windows 8 tablets are starting to be sold at a much higher rate than last year, you can see this on Amazon alone. There are so many models but the number of reviews and purchases are way up from last holiday season.
            Granted, much of this is obviously my own observation and some speculation to a degree. The jump in phone sales has been reported widely however.

            I do have to admit I wish that win7 would continue to be supported with updates. It is the best OS I've used, at least for productivity and want to continue using for work. I would love to see win7 get increment upgrades over the coming years and I agree about Aero, I miss that with Win 8 as well. I don't understand why they would do away with such a nice technology they just got right in 2009, already.

            I am disappointed in some other things as well but I think there is enough good to be found and even though they have a mountain of competition to climb this time, I am confident this OS will become well liked like XP was and the same with Vista...win7 looks no different and Vista worked very well for me but these forums were filled with MSFT's obituaries, but look what happened.....

            I try not to be quick to announce MSFT's demise, like so many others, prematurely. But then they just change their nic and avoid publically eating crow time and time again.
          • xuniL_z, 12 years ago or so, exact same said of XP.

            I hear what you are saying but I'm not so sure it's about fear or about change. I think it's about choice, just like music. People like what they like and don't want to be restricted. Case in point all of the successful GUI skinner's and modder's out there. I think Microsoft should leave the old interface, Aero and the Start Menu as an option. As far as jumping on the Apple band wagon...for me it was about getting an Apple PC that still had some of Steve Jobs in it and Windows 8.x for me was why I decided to pull the trigger. I'm really not sure what Apple's future is with Tim Cook but I didn't want to wait to find out.

            In terms of phones, Apple's IOS 7 is making me hold off on upgrading my iPhone. For me the Windows phone isn't an option. I personally don't like Metro. I would however consider a Samsung Galaxy.

            Regarding Windows 8 tablets? A basic Surface doesn't let you use full Windows, just Metro. The Surface Pro does but is over priced has poor battery life and wifi only. Neither tablet have cellular as an option. If you shop around you can get a full Windows notebook for around $250, why buy a tablet?

            I think the idea that PC's or Macs are doomed because of tablets is a little premature. I don't see tablets taking over a manufacturing environment where legacy connectivity is a must nor do I see anyone doing serious development from a tablet. I will however rethink my opinion that does happen.
          • Windows 8 is brilliant

            The reasons you gave for Windows 7 being better than Windows 8 are pathetic and basically childish. Start Menu? Who needs it, it adds nothing?! Aero? Grow up, will you? Native DVD playback.. well fair enough, that is a bit ridiculous. Fortunately, in my case, I took advantage of Windows Media Centre when it was offered for free (on all of my computers), so nothing changed in that regard for me. Install the free VLC player and you are set to go. My HP laptop has it's own application which provides DVD playback too.

            Windows 8 starts up and runs faster, and is more stable than Windows 7, even though Windows 7 was stable anyway. It has better backup options, is more secure, has way vastly superior and more convenient sharing options via the modern UI apps. Using keyboard shortcuts it is a lot faster to get to certain things like Control Panel than the outdated Start menu. I really like some of the modern UI apps as they are more convenient and more attractive than their website counterparts. I love the native ISO mounting. There are so many things better about Windows 8 than Windows 7 and all you can come up with is 3 poxy and useless reasons to state otherwise.
          • How well does it work with ...

            my hardware and software?

            MOTU PCI-424 card
            Universal Audio UAD-2 card
            Focusrite LiquidMix outboard gear
            Toontrack Superior Drummer
            XLN Audio Addictive Drums
            LA Scoring Strings
            Pianoteq 4

            My next "PC" will be a Mac because my current PC dual boots to Linux because the only reason for me to use Windows is to produce music. Windows has become a consumer operating system, which is what tablets and consoles (e.g. PS4) handle quite nicely. If I want to do real work (not music related), I boot into Linux. If I want to watch DVD's or be entertained some other way, there are devices for that.

            Windows 8 would totally cripple me since my setup is quite stable right now. What value does Windows 8 add? How will it allow me to produce music better? Will it help me play the mixolydian mode with greater ease?
          • Mac for Audio? Unlikely to fit the bill.

            Your Mac is going to be of little use for producing music. I've run a sizeable recording studio for many years (and also own & run a computer repair business & graphics firm) and for audio & media require computers with expandability for any serious recording & graphics / media work - I'm running 64GB of ram on a 24TB setup for music production - largely SSDs and 10K drives - you'll be able to add an external usb HD on the mac for storage if you're lucky enough to not already have all your USB ports in use. I don't see how a largely un-expandable computer is of any use to anyone doing serious work.