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There's been a lot of talk about Windows 9 over the past few weeks, though you may have seen it called by its code name "Threshold." We've been looking forward to Windows 9 since about the time that the Windows 8 Tech Preview came out, hoping against all hope that Microsoft would learn from its Vista-esque mistake. It appears that the company has.
With "new" features such as a Start Menu and the ability to run Metro apps in windows, it looks like Microsoft has ably blended the user interfaces of Windows 7 and Windows 8 into something that I would dare call "usable."
Frankly, usability seems to be the core theme of all the Windows 9 talk thus far. It's said that the OS will work differently depending on the hardware it's running on. If the computer doesn't have a touch screen, the OS will feature the desktop more than Metro. Conversely, if it is a touch-screen device, perhaps also without a mouse or keyboard, it will focus on Metro.
Device awareness could drive adoption
Granted, that's about all we know at this point, but I still feel pretty comfortable suggesting that Windows 9 will shake things up in the desktop virtualization space, which is dominated by Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. Of all the badness in Windows 8, there were some vast improvements to RemoteFX that I detailed when Microsoft demonstrated the new Start Menu at its Build conference this past April.
At the time, I speculated that the Start Menu and RemoteFX enhancements (which nobody used because they were in Windows 8), could drive adoption. But with this whole device-awareness thing, we'll be able to actually deliver Windows applications from the data center in the most appropriate way for the device a user is logging in from. That's an interesting prospect.
Microsoft is giving in to IT demands and industry forces, but I'm left wondering if we won't see a new licensing model that is friendlier to service providers, especially now that Microsoft is itself a service provider. Perhaps that's just wishful thinking, but imagine if Microsoft gave us both an OS and a licensing model suitable for this next generation of computing. That could really go a long way.
Anything can happen between now and next Spring when Windows 9 is expected to be released. I'm not holding my breath, but all signs point to change in the air. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is cloud-minded, and given the long tail of Windows applications, the one-two punch of a good OS and favorable licensing could improve people's opinions of Windows and Microsoft in general.
Windows 9 rumors heat up