Six clicks: What we think we know about Windows 9

Six clicks: What we think we know about Windows 9

Summary: It's not scheduled to arrive for just a little more than a year from now but here are early details about what to expect with Microsoft's next big Windows release.


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  • It's baaack

    Windows 9 will *not* do away with the Metro design language or the tiled Metro interface/start screen.

    Metro haters: Windows 9 is not your savior. Windows 9 is still expected to feature the Metro-Style/tiled Start Screen that Microsoft first introduced with Windows 8.

    According to Windows SuperSite Editor Paul Thurrott's sources, Windows 9 will feature an updated 2.0 version of the Metro design language.

    Image: Ed Bott ZDNet

  • Three milestones

    Sources are claiming that Microsoft will deliver three "milestones" along the Windows 9 road.

     We don't yet know which, if any, of these will be test builds open to the public. There's speculation that the three will be something along the lines of a beta/preview, a near-final release candidate (RC) and then the RTM (release to manufacturing) bits.

    If the new unified operating system organization continues to distance itself from the previous Windows management, there's a chance that Microsoft might try to bring more external testers back into the Windows fold. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft largely cut tester feedback out of its development equation, and instead relied on selected "telemetry" data to make decisions about product features and functionality.

    Image: Microsoft panel from Windows 8 CNET

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows


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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  • One thing I'd really like to see is...

    ...simplified installation. And by that I mean no more upgrade versus full install media which utilizes different types of keys. Given Windows 8.1 upgrade is no cost to Windows 8 users I find it absolutely ludicrous my Windows 8 key does not work with my Windows 8.1 download.

    Please Microsoft, for the love of God can you allow us to use one media and one key across all the different versions?
    • Simple fix for this

      There are OEM "default" keys for installation of Windows 8.1. You can use those for the Windows Setup (based on WinPE) portion of the install, but you'll need your genuine key for activation. They are posted on the Microsoft OEM Partner Center website at

      Lots of sites have them listed too.

      The reason Windows Setup requires special keys is because it uses each specific key to identify a specific SKU for installation from an INSTALL.WIM file on a DVD. An INSTALL.WIM can have any number of Windows installation images included in it, and a newer version of Windows Setup can install an older image. Now, by comparison, you could be using a Windows Deployment Services setup, but it doesn't ask for keys. The reason for that is because WDS requires that each installation image is separate, and doesn't support merged WIM images, so the installer doesn't do any guesswork on which image to pick based on a product key - it just lists them.

      I don't recall if the "delete EI.cfg" trick works on Windows 8 though.
      • You know what is even simpler than what you suggest?

        Not having to do what you suggest.
        • +1

          Top answer so far!!
          The Central Scrutinizer
        • Very true

          Also, made me laugh. You have my vote, sir!
        • Exactly what I thought

          Might be the reason why fewer and fewer people want to deal with Windows if this solution is the "simple one".
          • Well, your DEAD wrong about one thing.

            "fewer and fewer people want to deal with Windows"

            Complete nonsense. Windows has more users this year than any in history and its projected next year will be even more as well as the year after that.

            Its pretty common knowledge that Windows user base is still increasing, just far slower than in the past due to a very saturated market. Windows has not even lost any appreciable "market share" of any note.

            Its just so so tiresome listening to people make ridiculous statements around here to simply further their own agenda, no matter how untrue the comments are.
          • I'm confused

            They're having more or less?
          • Not Really

            @Cayble you never addressed the original point which is that fewer and fewer people want to deal with Windows and it's true. Just because more people are using Windows doesn't mean people want to deal with it. If you're a college student, you're buying a Windows laptop or tablet because you have to, not because you want to. If your work requires you to run Windows on your laptop or computer, then you're buying a Windows machine.

            People buy Windows because they have to, not because they want to. Windows 8 has been a debacle. Nobody uses it because they want to. If you look up and down the aisles of Best Buy, Target, Walmart, etc. all you see are Windows 8 machines. Sure, you can go out of your way online and search out a machine with Windows 7 but you have to go out of your way to do that.

            If you're an enterprise you are buying Windows because all the enterprise software out there is for Windows. Lots of Microsoft's business is coming from businesses upgrading from XP.
          • @Maha888

            "you never addressed the original point which is that fewer and fewer people want to deal with Windows and it's true."

            Not saying you're right or wrong here... but what is your source for this information?
          • You don't HAVE to use Windows

            there are so many decent operating systems, my personal favourite being Ubuntu (the one i am currently typing on), that buying Windows is not a necessity. in fact, i only bought Windows for the sake of having it on my computer. Ubuntu has worked perfectly fine for me, and i have found that they have kept the interfaces seperated. Windows just has always been a bloated, heavyweight operating system with filesystem driver that just don't know where to place files. I made the switch a long time ago, and i can't say that i need nor really want Windows enough to justify buying it, but really, it all comes down to the user
          • Why?

            Why did you want Windows on your computer if you're so in love with Ubuntu? you said: "i only bought Windows for the sake of having it on my computer." ... but why?

            Just sayin' ...
        • AHA, HA

          Good one! Good ol' MS is making things a bit easier with each new version. Pretty soon we should be able to upgrade by just putting in the Disc or clicking on a Link and walking away and yep we are now close but not quite there yet. I am definitely no expert and I like Easy stuff with the Tech stuff.
    • key useage

      If you have a legal key you purchased with windows 8 it will work for windows 8.1...if not you have some problems with something you might have changed.
      • Should we believe anything from

        someone whose spelling skills sem to be arrested at second grade level? {usage}
        • 'sem' to be arrested?????

          glass houses and stones 'seem' to spring to mind.......
          The Central Scrutinizer
          • "Sem"

      • windows

        It's the something you may have changed that's that’s the issue why pay for software that may not work. Ubuntu is free and always works because it's yours.
  • Bundle a Start Menu as an option

    They should just bundle something like Start8 and during initial user setup, ask the person "Do you want the new look, or the Windows 7 look?"

    Start up whichever one the user asks for, and half of all the complaints about Windows 8 go away immediately.
    • It's amazing how Microsoft continues to shoot itself in the foot when...

      ...the solution is as easy as what you've suggested. Give the users the CHOICE of how to interact with Windows.