After the failings of Windows on new platforms, Microsoft goes back to what it knows best.
Steven’s Sinofsky’s vision for Windows seems to have had its fate sealed with a new report from ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. Yes, the operating system will still be available on tablets and smartphones, but the centerpiece of Windows’ modern look: the Modern UI, once known as Metro, will be virtually erased from existence on the desktop in favor of a return to the traditional Start Menu paradigm.
According to a report by ZDNet, which was later confirmed by The Verge, Microsoft’s next version of Windows, currently codenamed “Threshold”, will follow the trend started with Windows 8.1 — different versions of Windows for different hardware profiles. Desktop users will get a Start Menu and the Modern UI will be suppressed; mobile users will still have the touchscreen friendly interface. Users of Two-in-one devices that are Windows exclusive will have a hybrid, depending on what configuration their device is in.
Originally the return of the Start Menu was expected with Update 2 of Windows 8, but it looks like this will be now reserved for Threshold.
For Microsoft, Threshold is an attempt to undo the usability sins of Windows 8: the traditional Windows style desktop was useless on tablets, while the Modern UI was the wrong fit for the desktop.
Microsoft needs to do all it can to give Windows a second chance. Many two-in-one devices ship with Android for a reason — Windows has yet to prove itself as a viable mobile operating system. At the same time desktop users have largely avoided making the move from Windows 7 to Windows 8 because while the operating system itself is technically sound, the inclusion of the new UI was a major turn off to many.
It isn’t clear yet if Threshold will be Windows 9, or a major update to Windows 8. It all likelihood Microsoft will be eager to abandon Windows 8 and all its baggage, but nothing yet is confirmed.
The public preview of Threshold is expected to arrive in the fall, shortly after Windows 8.1 Update 2.