Microsoft to deliver Windows 'Threshold' tech preview around late September

Microsoft to deliver Windows 'Threshold' tech preview around late September

Summary: Microsoft is aiming to make available a technology preview of Windows Threshold around late September or early October.


Microsoft is aiming to deliver a "technology preview" of its Windows "Threshold" operating system by late September or early October, according to multiple sources of mine who asked not to be named. 


And in a move that signals where Microsoft is heading on the "servicability" front, those who install the tech preview will need to agree to have subsequent monthly updates to it pushed to them automatically, sources added.

Threshold is the next major version of Windows that is expected to be christened "Windows 9" when it is made available in the spring of 2015. Threshold is expected to include a number of new features that are aimed at continuing to improve Windows' usability on non-touch devices and by those using mice and keyboards alongside touch.

Among those features — according to previous leaks — are a new "mini" Start Menu; windowed Metro-Style applications that can run on the Desktop; virtual desktops; and the elimination of the Charms bar that debuted as part of Windows 8. Cortana integration with Windows Threshold is looking like it could make it into the OS, as well.

Special Feature

Windows 8 in Business

Windows 8 in Business

Microsoft has painted bold design strokes with Windows 8, but the business impact remains hotly debated. ZDNet and TechRepublic have the enterprise and SMB perspectives on Windows 8 covered from virtually every angle.

I've asked Microsoft officials for comment. To date, Microsoft execs have declined to comment on what will be in Threshold, when it will be available, how much it will cost or what it will be named.

When Microsoft was working on Windows 8, the company delivered three external "milestones" before making the operating system generally available in October 2012. First there was a Windows 8 developer preview, which Microsoft released on September 13, 2011, followed by a Windows 8 "consumer" preview on February 29, 2012. The operating system was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012.

These days, Microsoft's operating system team is on a more rapid release schedule, so I'd think there won't be five or six months between any Threshold milestone builds Microsoft plans to make available externally.

I had heard previously from my contacts that Microsoft was aiming to deliver a public preview of Threshold available to anyone interested toward the end of calendar 2014. I'm not sure if there's still a plan to make a public consumer preview available at that time or if this "technical preview" is the only "preview" Microsoft will release before Threshold is released to manufacturing.

Update: One of my contacts who has provided accurate information on Windows in the past said the Threshold tech preview will be public and available to all those interested.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Mobility, Windows 8


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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • You make a dead man....

    Will Microsoft bring out Start Me Up again?
    Larry Seltzer
    • Dude, it's "You make a grown man cry"

      Not sure what song you're listening to.
      • Replacing the Charms with what?

        These mind numbing stories keep saying they're removing the Charms bar. Okay. But I have a hybrid/tablet so what will you be replacing the charms with? The charms do a lot of essential functions like printing, screen sharing, searching, etc. You cannot simply remove the charms and still have functional apps and tablet devices like mine. So I'm okay with them removing the charms, but they have to replace it with a new bar somewhere for my apps and devices to still work. Who cares that they're changing the interface, the real story is how the new interface will work. Simply saying it will be like WP8.1 does not answer the question. To make Windows 9 work like 8.1 would mean every single developer and app having to be rewritten. That is not an answer as it would mean breaking 99% of the apps in the Windows Store. What I think is probably happening are they are simply moving the charms bar somewhere else (like the taskbar) or they are going to break every single app in the Windows Store.
        • no need for a new bar

          If an app prints then it should have a print button. If a button shares it should have a share button, etc. the Charms bar was probably the worst decision of windows 8.
          • The whole point

            that is the whole point, every app automatically has access to this functionality in a standard way that makes the system consistent to use and is easy to implement for the developer.
          • No

            the Charms Bar is the best way of accessing options on a tablet that I have ever seen. And it isn't like I haven't used an iPad and Android tablet.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Keep me Charms

            love it or hate it; it works & its universal I USE IT EVERYDAY with touch on the tablet, in laptop mode & even docked with a mouse in "desktop mode". every once in awhile it'll piss me off from the desktop when it say something ridiculous like "you can only print from apps" and yes there is a learning curve. it is now customizable you can limit your interaction and accidental swiping of it ... if it is removed what replaces it I think Win8.x needs a WP8.x style notification bar and honestly I would simply ADD TO THE CHARMS BAR GIVING IT NOTIFICATIONS, EVEN MORE FUNCTIONALLITY AND CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS !!!
            Mr H Cave Man
        • About Charms

          From a modern app, either running full screen or windowed, how will I share it, print it, project it, search it, change permissions/settings? Very few apps in the Windows 8 Store have these functions built into them. Eliminating these charms functions completely would break almost 200K apps. Windows Phone from day one never had charms so the apps were always developed with these settings contained within the app itself (if at all). I think sometimes it is taken for granted how much more functionality/capability the average Windows 8.1 app has over a Windows Phone app.

          Perhaps the charms settings will just move to a drop down menu bar on top of each app/window like we see with the "X" button in Windows 8.1? But that would be a terrible user experience on a touch/tablet where you have to use your fingers (a step back to Windows Mobile stylus interface). Maybe every single app can be updated automatically to have the charms settings pushed into the "..." menu with a swipe up/down opening them in every app. That would be the ideal solution. Can Microsoft actually do that though or are they going to ask developers to completely rewrite/resubmit their apps?
          • break almost 200K apps

            This was something I was wondering too...
            Honestly, I don't care as I don't use Metro apps... But I was curious as to how this was going to be implemented...
            Chimera Obscura
        • charms

          They're after me lucky charms!
          • Where do I turn my head?

            Microsoft is completely lost with its design of Windows 8.

            They want to please everybody, but as we know life doesn't work that way - esp. in business.

            With such a release (let's see what kind of) they'll fail either with the tablets or with the PCs.

            Actually with this affair of the NSA, many companies in Europe are turning into Linux systems.
          • @infi

            Agree! As I've said before, they will never be able to please both user group equally, as they thought. Desktop PC and tablets are two distinct use cases. Windows 9 is said to be going back to catering to desktop user which will sure to anger tablet users (charm bars). Just like Windows 8/metro angered desktop users.
          • the GUI is fluxed charms can be disabled not removed

            The idea of 9 is the same as 8 the only difference is it defaults to a more structured design that further seperated the tablet and PC interface, of course both can choose to have the other interface or a combination.
          • in the end though...

            I'd imagine the WP action center could replace charms but in any case it's going to be disabled by default on desktop and active on tablets.
          • @c1c2c3c4c

            +925 That's what I'm thinking too.
          • @dave

            Yes, they can and MS allready does. Especially for admins it's quite easy. Some people just do not have to the ability to see the Modern UI part and the desktop part.
          • No change

            Actually with this affair of the NSA, many companies in Europe are NOT turning into Linux systems. It's the same like always in Europe. Windows domination.
            And VMware(linux) loosing ground to Windows HYper-V fast.
          • Charms,

            not so lucky after all...
        • Word is some of the Charm components will be

          available in menu's of title bars. Don't work the stuff will be available but the way you access them will be different.
        • At least make Charms an option

          Those like me who findit useful and like it can keep it, those who don't like it can turn it off, hell even ship it with Charms disabled and allow people to activate it if they choose to, Microsoft is really going about things the wrong way, give people options, do not just willy nilly add and remove features. Same thing should have been done with the dreaded Start Button, just make it an option, people don't like it like me could have hidden it, for everyone else it is there.