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.

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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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133 comments
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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.
    JohnnyES-25227553276394558534412264934521
    • 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.
      baggins_z
      • 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.
          BruinB88
          • filthy microsoft troll

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

            @notomsnotonsa

            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.
            ForeverCookie
          • 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.
            trumanp@...
        • 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.
          bmonsterman
          • Can it be possible to have a reasonable dialog here?

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

            Every once in a while the sheer ridiculousness of these talkbacks becomes overwhelming and I throw something like this out there.
            bmonsterman
      • 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.
        svwings@...
  • Low Adoption AKA You Can't Upgrade

    I have tried 3 different machine to upgrade to Windows 8.1 and all three machines have said that it failed to upgrade to 8.1 due to an error. I have heard of two other people tell me they couldn't do the upgrade.

    I know I am a tiny sample but looking at Google this was a major issue.

    I have read how it was being fixed. Tried again on my machine and well still stopped and still cryptic error message.
    mtelesha
    • yeah, it doesnt work well on fake PCs aka MACs with very poor drivers.

      The MAC and Bootcamp is the worst option for running Windows. Why should that be a surprise to anyone. Think about it.
      greywolf7
      • Not here

        Runs fine under Bootcamp on my Mac Pro. It's still butt-ugly, but it runs OK.
        MC_z
        • Hey

          You shouldn't call your Mac butt ugly, I'm sure Windows 8 will make it look at least a little better.
          Rann Xeroxx
      • Not true

        I was able to upgrade it on my Mac with no problem.. while I had problems upgrading it on my ASUS Vivo Tab.

        Sorry... you're theory is not factual.
        Tablazines
        • I meant "your".....

          we really need an "edit" capability on this forum.
          Tablazines
        • it never is

          nothing microsoft trolls ever said here is factual
          notomsnotonsa
          • Just remember this

            Only and idiot would let facts get in the way of their opinion.
            Info Dave
          • A troll calling others trolls?

            Wow, you're a piece of work.
            Rann Xeroxx