Windows 9 is coming: Feels like Windows Phone all over again

Windows 9 is coming: Feels like Windows Phone all over again

Summary: Windows 8.1 has only been out a short while and we're already hearing how Windows 9 will be aimed at addressing low adoption. It's beginning to sound like Windows Phone.

Windows 8 hybrid (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

It seems only a few months have passed since Windows 8.1 was released, probably because it was, and we're already hearing about 'Threshold'. This is the next big update for Windows that is going to solve all of Microsoft's problems with adoption of its OS.

Windows 9, as the next version is reported to be called, is no doubt a push to get more people to make the switch to the new Windows that Microsoft has so much riding on. The adoption to the current phase of Windows hasn't been great, according to Paul Thurrott of WinSuperSite.

"But Threshold is more important than any specific updates. Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That's a disaster, and Threshold needs to strike a better balance between meeting the needs of over a billion traditional PC users while enticing users to adopt this new Windows on new types of personal computing devices. In short, it needs to be everything that Windows 8 is not."

Microsoft isn't sharing information about Windows 9, but Thurrott speculates that a windowed version of Metro will run on the desktop. I'm not sure what to make of that if it becomes a reality. Many call for the elimination of the desktop to avoid the bipolar nature of Windows 8. Moving windowed Metro to the desktop seems backwards to me.

It's not the post-PC era that Microsoft needs to be concerned with, it's the post-Windows era.

To be fair, Microsoft has done a great job with Windows 8.1. I even named it the most significant tech of 2013 and I stand by that. I find it a good laptop OS and a decent tablet OS. The latter is probably most important. Make no mistake, Windows is now a play for the mobile market for Microsoft. In spite of competition in the enterprise from the iPad and Android, Windows is still the favored platform there. The push thus needs to be in the mobile space which is why Microsoft has invested so much effort in the touch aspects of Windows.

What Microsoft doesn't need with Windows is to become known as the OS where the 'next version will be the big one'. That smacks of each version not being good enough, probably due to lack of big enough sales numbers.

Windows 9 comes into view: Windows 9, price and Microsoft's Innovator's DilemmaMicrosoft to share Windows Threshold plans at Build 2014 show: Report | Should Windows consumer and enterprise flavors remain in sync? | Microsoft codename 'Threshold': The next major Windows wave takes shape 

That's what Windows is now seeming like. First Windows 8, the biggest shakeup in Windows ever, was to be Microsoft's big entry into the mobile space. Sales didn't happen in numbers, and then WIndows 8.1 was to make an even bigger splash.

Even Microsoft's own hardware, the Surface tablet line, couldn't reverse the drop in PC sales in 2013. That's OK, as Window 9 is now the next big thing expected to turn things around for Microsoft.

If it seems like you've seen this play out before, that's because you have. Windows Phone was the radically new phone OS when it hit the scene not that long ago. In spite of the totally new design, it didn't win the hearts of buyers. The lack of apps for Windows Phone didn't help, and lack of features was widely criticized.

It didn't take long after Windows Phone hit the market before we started hearing how the next version would turn things around. It didn't, so we heard the same thing about the version after that.

Finally the merits of the current Windows Phone OS were extolled as the one to beat them all. It is a good OS but still not booting the big guys off the medal podium. But hey, the next version, whatever it will be called, will knock everyone's socks off. Sure it will.

When you compare the life of Windows Phone to that of Windows 8, the similarities are hard to ignore. Windows 8 is now looking like the evolution of Windows Phone, and that no doubt concerns Microsoft. Outside of its admittedly large base of enthusiasts, Windows is only slowly catching on, much like Windows Phone.

Taking on the mobile space with Windows 8 has forced Microsoft to speed up its rate of participation. Mobile tech moves very fast and Microsoft must keep up. It came to the party late and it can't keep falling behind the competition.

The competition has the luxury of not also having to compete for desktop sales, it only has to evolve in mobile. Microsoft may have bitten off more than it can chew by going after both desktop and mobile with Windows 8.

Windows 8.1 is a great OS, the greatest version of Windows ever. So far that doesn't seem to be enough, and that's got to be a big worry for the folks in Redmond. The more the competition keeps growing in the mobile space, the greater the uphill struggle will be with Windows. It's not the post-PC era that Microsoft needs to be concerned with, it's the post-Windows era.

It's clear the next CEO of Microsoft has his/her hands full, no matter who it might be. We're not hearing firm rumors so far about who it might be, just who it won't. It's going to be tough no matter who gets the nod.

See related: 

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8, Windows Phone

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  • Wrong path is hard to change

    I think Microsoft has placed all its eggs in one basket with Windows 8 and it has failed at impressing anyone on any platform in any great numbers. What I see in Windows 9 is just another attempt at pleasing the masses with yet another flavor of Windows 8. Hoping eventually that it will strike a positive nerve rather then a just subdue a hostile Windows user who did not want Windows 8 to begin with. Its like filling a pot hole rather then repaving the road. The pot hole fix works for a while. But eventually the problem returns.
    • Microsoft's problem

      is that their business model was winning over IT folks who would then force everyone to use their product. And now that IT departments are less powerful in determining what platform everyone has to use, Microsoft is taking the hit. Because, it appears that given a choice, most people really don't want to buy their stuff.
      • Bigger problem

        People switching to Linux. I got fed up with upgrades, virus, malware and now the NSA backdoor. After reading all the people talk about how Linux was difficult to use and other nonsense, I found the opposite; it was actually easier than Windows without the problems of Windows.

        Upon switching to Linux (Xubuntu) all the problems I use to have with Windows disappeared and I mean all of them; I only wish I had done it sooner. The problem is that people accumulate Windows only software and it makes it harder to switch, but with projects like WINE, you can continue to use that software in Linux until you find replacements. As for Games, both me and my brother avid Gamers and it wasn't a problem, especially now with Steam for Linux and the Steam Machines coming soon to a TV near you. The whole world is switching, it seems only Americans that are trying to rationalize their Windows addiction.
        Mike Frett
        • What a joke

          Another Linux fan boy "plant" stating how great a dead OS is. Its really funny to read these, there are only a handful of course because the Linux dekstop has and will never catch on. It has the same problems as Windows Phone - no adoption, no software vendor support, no sales.
          • filthy microsoft troll

            talking about linux fanboys,not realizing there are no fanboys among us, only people who discovered superior operating system
          • The moderator needs to ban you.


            There is no problem with taking sides, but you are showing signs of extreme prejudice, and maybe even racism.

            If you are trolling, you're taking it too far.

            You're also swearing, which is not allowed around here.
          • Linux is hardly a Dead OS

            It runs as the core of every Android device out there, and powers the majority of the web servers in the world. Hardly what I would call a Dead OS.

            More like the rising star of the future.
          • They will flip when Ubuntu Phone comes out later this year.

            Because Linux is not commercial, it has no advertising or marketing departments. But Ubuntu Phone is a different matter. It will run free on the ohone, but the hardware manufacturers WILL advertise it and promote it, and the mainstream will be blown away. They will be even more amazed when they discover that the desktop and tablet versions are all the same and sync/play flawlessly. Linux is the future of operating systems. Costly and bloated vs FREE and efficient (and pretty), is a no brainer.

            The International Space Station dumped Microsoft for Debian Linux after disastrous experiences with commercial Windows and Red Hat Linux. Debian is the core of both Ubuntu and Mint. The clueless will get a clue...finally.
          • Proprietary (MS) vs non-proprietary (Linux) ...

            ISS, and NASA wanted more freedom, so they went with Linux. They have their own programmers to blame, praise, or wait on, if things go right or wrong. That simple. Not better, just more freedom, with no strings attached.
          • What is free, is popular ..

            with today's lazy generation, and Governments wanting something for nothing, especially European, and socialist countries. Linux has an open door to rise. Microsoft FTW.
          • Microsoft fanboys. I was one of them, then I came to my senses. Linux wins.

            The line in the article: "Windows 8.1 is a great OS, the greatest version of Windows ever. " LOL. That is the voice of delusion. If Windows 8/8.1 was the best Windows ever, it would be selling and adopting like the "best Windows ever". Numbers and metrics wise, Windows 8 is the least successful Microsoft Windows OS ever created. It is an abject FAILURE. No way around that.

            Having said that, I have switched to Linux. There are no sales because it's FREE. It does not need advertising. It is far and away better tha either Windows (any flavor) or OS X. I am an enterprise level Systems Administrator. I will give Microsoft kudos on Server 2012 which is using the Windows 8 formula, but the pricing kills that for the enterprise. Microsoft is very quickly being moved into virtual environments with ESXi (Linux) as it's host. These moves represent huge savings which are ongoing. Microsoft has become bloated and inefficient, and now it has also become unattractive. To me that spells doom. The numbers are proving this to be the case. But Microsoft fanboys are much like Apple fanboys. Most of them have no high-end experience with Windows, they are not IT professionals, and they do not have any idea how Windows stacks up against Linux or OS X. They just "like it". They are a small group, and again the numbers show this. My response here is not emotional, it is logical.

            Lastly, there is no such thing as a "Linux plant". Linux is not commercial. It is FREE. There would be no purpose in "selling" Linux to any user. Linux, unlike EVERY operating system out there, really DOES have a global community, all working on the systems to make them the best, most efficient operating systems on the planet. The best way to respond to a Microsoft fanboy (like I used to be) is to walk somebody through the install of a Linux Distro like Mint or Ubuntu and just sit back and watch them smile and cock their heads in disbelief at the ease of install and use.
          • If Linux was the best OS ever, it would be selling and adoptin like....

            You said this...
            If Windows 8/8.1 was the best Windows ever, it would be selling and adopting like the "best Windows ever".

            as per your logic
            If Linux was the best OS ever, it would be selling and adopting like the "Best OS ever".

            Doesn't it make sense?

            Ever since I started learning Windows OS, way back with Windows 3.5 and then NT, I have been hearing this, Linux is going to rule the tech world. After decades, I am still hearing the same.

            I do not want to discredit Linux as an OS, Its a solid OS, but it has its own problems. People who usually pretend as "Linux Fans" do not have much knowledge on it. But will still say, its source is open you can customize it and compile it as you want etc. etc.. but how many of these Linux fans actually did such customizations.

            Its freely, anyone can download it and install it, still if people are spending hundreds of $ and buying windows, then definitely there is some advantage they find in it. In spite of being free if Linux as a desktop OS did not gain traction, then definitely there is something wrong with it..

            About Android story, Majority of the android install base use their phone almost as a feature phone, and switch from android to another OS may not take much time, Remember it was Windows CE in the beginning, and then Blackberry.. now it is Android.. tomorrow it may be debian phone or windows phone. Smartphone market can change in matter of 2-3 years...

            Anyways, again let me tell you.. Linux is a solid server OS. Client install bas of Linux, which is android now, has all the problems that windows had, because of its popularity. Viruses, Crashes, performance issues etc etc...

            Just wait and watch, rather than being fanboy for any technologies...
          • HUH?

            The biggest most definitive difference between Linux and Windows and OS x is that Windows and OS X are commercial, closed source product ecosystems. Linux is free and open source. It is like trying to compare a farm workhorse and a wild zebra.

            Linux is not adopting at the rates Windows and OS X have adopted (actually, it is PURCHASED) because Linux does not have a marketing department or paid advertising campaigns.

            Like you, I am very old school IT. I have been in this profession since before Windows existed, and I chugged along with Workgroup 3.1, NT, 2000 Server, etc etc etc. I got my first MCSE, then my MCSA, and have added Linux certs, Solaris and Oracle. But none of this is what the article is about. This is about consumer OSes, specifically Windows vs the competition. In that regard, Windows is on a very definite downward trajectory hastened by the absolutely failed Windows 8/8.1 operating system. I am an enterprise SysAdmin in a mixed Linux/Windows environment. All of the bare metal machines which were running Windows are now ESXi host machines with the original Windows Servers virtualized within them. benchmarks show that the virtualized servers run better than they did when they were the native OS!

            The biggest obstacle for Linux has not been an onstacle, it has simply been obscurity, because there is no advertising for it. The reason that is going to change is Ubuntu Touch phones. These phones will be the defining moment for Canonical and Linux (al flavors) because they will be marketed aggresively for the first time. The manufacturers of the phone hardware will advertise, compare, and package Linux commercially, even though the operating system is free. Also, because Android is still infested with Googlebloat, the threat is to Angroid, not to Windows. At least not initially. The domino effect will hapen when peole buying Ubuntu Touch phones realize that the desktop operating system is free. The syncing and compatibility is seamless, even for a Windows user.

            So, my comments are not fanboy comments, they are professional commentary based on first hand experience over several decades. Commercial software companies like microsoft and Apple are not in it for technology, they are in it for money. Because of that, they will produce inferior solutions in the 21st century and continue to fall behind Linux and .nix-based software.
          • "Free" and Government Budget Crunch..

            is what the "FREE" attaction is all about, and illusion of having total control over Linux. Nobody wants to pay for nothing, if they can. "FREE" at what other cost?
          • Illusion?

            "illusion of having total control over Linux"? It is not an illusion. If you have programming skills (or hire people who do), you actually DO have total control over Linux distros. Anyone who works with it on the enterprise level can verify that.
        • Alright then?

          Can it be possible to have a reasonable dialog here? If you think switching to Linux is a good idea, is it possible that it's a good idea without the rest of America being characterized with a neurological disease? If you like Linux, can you like Linux without an unreasonable hate for Windows or Microsoft and all of their users? If you like Windows, can you do without an unreasonable hate for all Linux fans? It's like Linus Torvalds said, "Microsoft hatred is a disease". I think that can be applied to all of the operating systems, computers, smartphones and the companies or organizations that develop them. We don't all have to get along, but please be civil.
          • Can it be possible to have a reasonable dialog here?

            Yer not from around here, are you?
          • Yea, I am.

            Every once in a while the sheer ridiculousness of these talkbacks becomes overwhelming and I throw something like this out there.
        • The masses and hacks aren't attracted to Linux, yet..

          once Linux gets some love, then the hacks and malware will come. The same for Mac, and its security. Let the number of users rise, then here comes the attention that you don't want.
      • Microsofts' Problem

        You are right baggins_z, most people really don't want to buy MS stuff. Why? Because most people, who are not geeks, hackers, or IT professionals, or who work in the corporate world on a PC all day long, just get frustrated trying to do so a things on a Windows PC.

        Nothing is easy or intuitive for a non-technical person, and that's most of us.

        Then we get a smart phone or a tablet. Wow! I can do my email, facebook, twitter, browse the Internet, download an App to do almost anything, and it is easy and convenient. I don't even have to sit at home at my computer desk to do it. Who needs a Win PC or a Linux PC?

        MS and the PC market is declining because MS failed to recognize people's frustration with PC's and that got much much worse with the advent of mobile, which was easy, and Win8 which was hard to the point of almost being impossible. Win8 is not only much harder to deal with for a lot of people, but it makes people give up much of what they had struggled to learn.

        Now, who are the bulk of PC users? It's folks that use productivity tools all day long at the office. Most of them have administrator/support teams and can have an onsite trouble shooter at their elbow for only a phone call.

        But a big problem is brewing. Can you image the chaos when that corporate IT department tries to roll out Win8? And they know it. So that's why so many corps still run on XP and Win7. The conversion would be a nightmare because they would have to train everyone how do do things the new way. And people who are trying to get a job done, and frankly irritated anyhow that they have to change, are going to be in a bad mood when the Win8 conversion rolls around.

        Now, I have 3 PC's (two win 7 and a win8) smartphone (android) and tablet (android). I am comfortable with all of them, so, other than being aggravated at the MS stupidity and their inelegant solutions, I don't care. But the facebook and twitter crowd has already tasted the future, and it isn't a frustratingly difficult PC.

        Microsoft has a huge challenge ahead and the first step is to recognize it.