What we know about the next iteration of Windows: Windows Threshold

Windows Threshold

With the recent increase of Windows Threshold information, we’ve decided that it would be a good idea to throw it all into one convenient place for users who might not have caught everything, and for users who do know everything to share their opinions on the upcoming release.

What is Windows Threshold?

Windows Threshold is the codename for the next update/release of Windows. Threshold is the codename for this particular release, meaning we’re not too sure what it will actually be called when it launches. It’s highly likely that this release will be called Windows 9 to further distance itself from the Windows 8 car-crash, but with recent rumors claiming Windows 9 is coming after Threshold, we’re not entirely sure.

Threshold is built upon Windows 8.1, and was originally intended to be an update for Windows 8.1 users. Since Windows 8 (as a brand) is tanking so hard, Microsoft is looking at different approaches for launching Threshold. It’s possible that Threshold could be a much broader release than originally planned, and that it could even be released for Windows 7 users at the low-low price of free.

What will it be like?

Start MenuWe had an entire slew of Threshold information leak all around the same time. I had reported on a number of changes coming to Threshold, which was then echoed by a number of other sources [1] [2].

From what we know, Microsoft has hit a happy-medium for user-experiences within Threshold. Desktop users will have the Start Menu, and tablet users will have the Start Screen. Much like in Windows 8.1 Update, the operating system will automatically detect your kind of device, and change settings accordingly.

The Start Menu in Threshold is different from what we’ve previously seen. It includes live tile support, and the ability to maximize the menu to get a Start Screen-esc Start. It's also very customizable, with the ability to show only desktop apps, and have them come up as tiles or a list.

Threshold for tablet users is a different story. The Start Screen is front and center for tablets, so much so that Microsoft is actually toying with removing the desktop completely from RT devices. This can happen because Microsoft is set to replace stock Win32 apps for Modern UI alternatives, meaning the desktop will be useless when Threshold rolls around. Desktop users (and devices like the Surface Pro) will still have stock Win32 applications of course. Office Gemini will be ready for primetime when Threshold is released too.

The UI in Threshold has too been updated, being distinctively different from what Windows looks like today. It’s even more flat and cleaner, and that’s definitely a good thing.

When is it coming?

Threshold will be launching for all Windows 8.x and possibly Windows 7 users in April 2015, according to rumors that is. We haven’t heard any official word from Microsoft on a release date, so anything is possible at this time.

We could see a public preview of Threshold later this year, which will be useful for Microsoft to gather feedback for the final release. The public preview will obviously be pre-release software, and not a full release.

How will it be distributed?

Much like Windows 8.1, Threshold ‘could’ be delivered via Windows Update or the Windows Store. Considering Threshold is an update for Windows, it’s plausible.

Microsoft will also release Threshold as a standalone product, again much like Windows 8.1. Threshold will become the latest version of Windows, making Windows 8.1 obsolete.

Geeky details

Windows Threshold is currently being developed in the 9600.xxxxx build range. This could change, considering we know that 97xx builds exist. It’s possible that engineers decided to push past 9600, but at this time we’re not entirely sure. Could 97xx builds be something after Threshold? We don’t know.

Something else worth noting is that we recently learned about a new Windows NT kernel version. NT 6.4 is currently in development with the 97xx builds. Does this mean we'll see Threshold get an NT kernel change too? Possibly.

Over to you

That's your roundup of all the major Windows Threshold news. Of course, we'll continue to update you on all the latest Threshold news. Until then however, we want to know what you think about Threshold. Do you like what's coming in the pipeline? Let us know below!

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