Microsoft's next Windows release: What's in a name?

On September 30 at its first official Windows 'Threshold' reveal, Microsoft officials may go public with the name of the coming OS, in addition to sharing some product specifics.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Microsoft OS chief Myerson: Shhh! Microsoft doesn't want to reveal the official name for Threshold yet (though it might on September 30).

On September 30, Microsoft officials are slated to talk up the enterprise piece of the company's vision for the next major version of Windows, codenamed Threshold.

Though next Tuesday's invitation-only event in San Francisco for about 50 press and analysts is only the first of what will likely be a number of Microsoft-orchestrated events focused on Threshold, it will be an important one.

Microsoft officials are expected to set the stage for the first public test build of the operating system, known as the "Windows Technical Preview for Enterprise." As sources have said, this preview, expected to be released by early October, won't be a developer preview and it won't include all of the features Microsoft is building into its next version of Windows. It will, however, be aimed at showing business users who are running Windows XP, Windows Vista and/or Windows 7 that Threshold is something they should want instead of fear.

Microsoft is focusing on making Threshold more palatable to business users who are more likely to rely on mice and keyboards, and who want and need to use their Win32 apps. The Softies need to demonstrate that Threshold will still allow them to be productive with relatively little readjustment time.

Microsoft's message to these users will be that they've listened to their needs this time around before designing a new version of Windows. Microsoft was criticized by a number of users when the company delivered Windows 8 in 2012 for introducing an operating system that they didn't feel reflected their needs and wants.

With Threshold, Microsoft will be doing a number of things in an attempt to distance itself from Windows 8, in terms of positioning and image. Besides bringing back a start menu and enabling users to run Metro-Style and Win32 apps in windows on their desktops, the company also will be doing more to collect feedback from users throughout the Threshold development process and to "flight" new features on a trial basis with different constituencies.

Even Microsoft's eventual choice of name for the next Windows release is meant to help distinguish the coming OS update from Windows 8. While some inside and outside the company have been referring to Threshold as "Windows 9" during its planning stages, Windows 9 isn't necessarily the name Microsoft will use for the new OS. There have been rumors and guesses that Microsoft instead may call the next version of Windows just plain Windows or "Windows One." I've heard some speculate Microsoft might go with "Windows 365" for the new name.

(Given Microsoft doesn't own the Windows365.com domain, I'm thinking this guess is not so likely.)

From what I've heard, a very small group inside the company know what the final name of Threshold will be. Microsoft officials presiding over the September 30 Threshold event — specifically Microsoft Executive Vice President of operating systems Terry Myerson — could end up revealing the final name on Tuesday.

Myerson joked on September 26 in an email he sent to Tom Warren of The Verge and me that Microsoft still hadn't decided on the final name for Threshold. After Warren and I joked on Twitter that it might be "Windows X" (which is supposedly the placeholder name in Microsoft's collateral for Tuesday's event), Myerson thanked us for our "vote."

So what's your vote, readers? What do you think Microsoft should call Threshold and why? I increasingly am feeling as though the Softies might go with just plain Windows because they're already moving toward using "Windows" to refer to the Windows Phone operating system. What about you?

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