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Windows 'Threshold' details leaked

Windows 'Threshold' details leaked

Windows Threshold, rumoured to be launching in early 2015, is claimed to feature a common core and three SKUs: a tablet/smartphone centric Modern UI flavour; a mainstream consumer release; and an enterprise edition.

Details of Microsoft's next-generation operating system, codenamed Windows Threshold, have started to emerge even as the company offers its customers a last-minute reprieve on Windows 7.

Part of Microsoft's new, more rapid release cycle - an attempt to emulate the rapid progress of rivals like Apple's OS X - Windows Threshold is claimed to be due to launch in early 2015 by sources speaking to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley - sources who have, in the past, correctly leaked details on Windows 8.1 or, as it was known at the time, Windows Blue.

According to Foley's sources, Windows Threshold will begin the process of moving the company's disparate operating systems - Windows 8.1, Windows RT, Windows Phone and whatever you'd like to call the platform used by the freshly-launched Xbox One - into a central core with as few as three main stock-keeping units (SKUs) at launch.

The next Windows release, it is claimed, will have three flavours: a consumer-oriented SKU will feature compatibility with ARM and x86 hardware, the divisive tile-based Modern UI, and have as its primary focus smartphones, tablets, hybrids, and low-end PCs; the second SKU will be more like the Windows of old, featuring both the Modern UI and a more traditional desktop along with x86 - but likely not ARM - compatibility; finally, an enterprise SKU will add in missing features like group policy control and device management and may, it is claimed, be available only to corporate customers.

Paul Thurrott's own sources suggest that Windows Threshold will also include the ability to run multiple Modern UI applications in windows on the traditional desktop, blurring the line between Modern apps and classic software, and may even include the Start Menu - not just the Start Button of Windows 8.1 - without the need for third-party add-ons.

The leaks come as Microsoft backtracks on claims that it had already stopped shipping Windows 7 to its retailers and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers, stating instead that it will do so at a time 'to be determined.' Whether this is as a reaction to slow corporate uptake of Windows 8 and the looming spectre of Windows XP finally reaching its official end-of-life status in April next year is not known. Windows 7 itself, meanwhile, will not reach EOL until January 2020.

29 Comments

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Corky42 10th December 2013, 13:10 Quote
Apparently Microsoft update the lifecycle fact sheet recently to say retail sales of Windows 7 have ended, but OEM is still showing "To be determined"
Bede 10th December 2013, 13:13 Quote
Given the inertia in the OS market (typing this from a work PC running XP) it seems futile to speed up the release pace. People like a stable base platform, from which the subsidiary software can be updated more regularly - ie Office and Adobe products.
Corky42 10th December 2013, 13:20 Quote
People prefer shiny new things to play with more than a stable platform, company's on the other hand are the polar opposite preferring stability over new toys.
This way phone, tablet user can beta test the new toys and when the bugs have been patched and its a stable platform it can be released to company's.
rollo 10th December 2013, 13:22 Quote
Finally somebody at MS sees sence.
loftie 10th December 2013, 14:18 Quote
Quote:
the second SKU will be more like the Windows of old, featuring both the Modern UI and a more traditional desktop along with x86

Is that not what we have with W8? Maybe I'm just getting thrown by the Windows of old remark...
SchizoFrog 10th December 2013, 14:34 Quote
An article on TomsHardware states that the next iteration of Windows, 8.2 will feature the return of a full start menu. I know that some will see this U turn as an error on MS's part in the first place of removing it but it once again shows that they do listen these days and are making changes relevant to what it's customers actually want rather than telling them what to have. I like the direction MS seems to be taking from the past couple of years.
murraynt 10th December 2013, 14:58 Quote
I smell windows 8 mobile being cut.
dyzophoria 10th December 2013, 14:59 Quote
nice to see how this comes out, I think the modern UI has its place quite frankly, I think MS just needs some more polish with it, especially on how it interacts with the classic desktop, I really hope they come up with something intuitive this time, I might not be looking forward to getting the start menu back, but rather they come up with a worthy successor and not a Frankenstein approach with Windows 8, heck, with what we have with Windows 8 they should have just given up the classic desktop instead of what it looks like now
Gareth Halfacree 10th December 2013, 15:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by loftie
Is that not what we have with W8? Maybe I'm just getting thrown by the Windows of old remark...
In this case, when I say "Windows of old" I mean "versions of desktop Windows older than Windows Threshold" - so yes, the middle tier will basically be the Windows Threshold equivalent of what we have on the desktop now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
An article on TomsHardware states that the next iteration of Windows, 8.2 will feature the return of a full start menu.
Funnily enough, it says the exact same thing in my article too. :p
SchizoFrog 10th December 2013, 15:32 Quote
'cough, cough' Are you sure that you didn't edit the article Gareth? :)
I read the article on Toms first and was looking specifically for mention of it here. If not, I apologise, although I guess that I can't count me out from winning any of the Xmas comps. :P
Brooxy 10th December 2013, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by murraynt
I smell windows 8 mobile being cut.

If that happens, I'm going to be more than a little hacked off. Out of all phone OSs that I've used in recent years, WinMo8 is the best one by a considerable margin - more so recently, as I've noticed the number of available apps has gone up.
Gareth Halfacree 10th December 2013, 15:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
'cough, cough' Are you sure that you didn't edit the article Gareth? :)
Absolutely certain - the article is untouched since it was published.
Asouter 10th December 2013, 16:51 Quote
If there's one thing I'd like ms to do, it would be an OS that was purely design just for gaming, no thrills just a good rock solid OS that gets the most from all the systems resources.
WarrenJ 10th December 2013, 17:30 Quote
Buy an Xbox One... in about 12 months time.
Krikkit 10th December 2013, 18:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asouter
If there's one thing I'd like ms to do, it would be an OS that was purely design just for gaming, no thrills just a good rock solid OS that gets the most from all the systems resources.

Unfortunately that's a bit of a niche market. Most of us aren't looking to eek out that last, minute percentage of performance from a game, just get it running smoothly. :)
Stanley Tweedle 10th December 2013, 19:32 Quote
So MS wants a more frequent release cycle eh? Just one problem there... Microsoft has an inflated pricing policy and will never deviate from that except for the odd month when an OS is failing to reach sales targets.

Windows 8.1 = £99

OSX Mavericks = free.

Linux = free.
IvanIvanovich 10th December 2013, 19:40 Quote
If I were MS I would fork OS into two very distinct branches... consumer and enterprise. Consumers and enterprises are such wildly different markets it makes no sense to keep having all these multiple partially overlapping OS variants. It's good to see they are finally moving this way.
Mobile/nettop - merger RT and phone and support for Arm nettops
Consumer - x64 only desktop OS with cutting edge rapid release, lightweight no enterprise features
Server Home - ultra basic, remove all enterprise feature (no domain, active directory, group policy, etc, etc. so it's useless to business could even lock it down like RT for all I care as long as it was CHEAP) medium term support cycle
Enterprise - x64 only desktop basic no metro with pro/enterprise features and long term support cycle
Enterprise legacy - x86 only lightweight basic enterprise feature and long term support
Enterprise Mobile/thin client - add enterprise feature
Server Essentials - for basic roles and small business
Server Datacenter
Gareth Halfacree 10th December 2013, 19:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley Tweedle
Windows 8.1 = £99
OSX Mavericks = free.
Linux = free.
Lovely, but untrue. Mavericks is only free as an upgrade from selected previous OS X versions. If you're on an older system, you'll pay - assuming your Mac is even compatible. What's that? You don't have a Mac? Then not only is Mavericks most assuredly not free, you can't have it at all without breaking the user agreement - not for £99, not for £999.

Windows 8.1? Well, just like Mavericks, it's a free upgrade for anyone on a selected older version - in this case Windows 8. Got an older system? You'll pay to upgrade, yes, but at least Microsoft gives you that choice and doesn't lock the OS down to only pre-approved Microsoft-branded hardware.

But you were right about Linux being free. Well, unless you need commercial support, in which case you can expect to pay an annual fee.
Nexxo 10th December 2013, 19:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by murraynt
I smell windows 8 mobile being cut.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooxy
If that happens, I'm going to be more than a little hacked off. Out of all phone OSs that I've used in recent years, WinMo8 is the best one by a considerable margin - more so recently, as I've noticed the number of available apps has gone up.

Not going to happen. Microsoft has already said that it plans to roll Windows Phone and Windows RT into one. In fact, the first all-Metro closed version of Windows that Gareth's article talks about? That's the new Windows Mobile, for phones, phablets and tablets.
Guinevere 10th December 2013, 21:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley Tweedle
Windows 8.1 = £99
OSX Mavericks = free.
Linux = free.
Lovely, but untrue. Mavericks is only free as an upgrade from selected previous OS X versions. If you're on an older system, you'll pay - assuming your Mac is even compatible.

That's an over simplification. Mavericks is a free upgrade from Snow Leopard onwards (That's the previous to the previous version of OS X BTW). If you don't have a licence for Snow Leopard, then not only you part of a really tiny percentage of users) but buying Snow Leopard is only £14. It's nothing to do with the age of the system, it's because Apple only offer Mavericks through the App Store and OS versions prior to Snow Leopard don't have the app store.

So worst case scenario it costs £14 to upgrade your Mac(s). But seriously, if you've survived this long on Leopard then just stick with it and keep Windows ME on your PC while you're at it!
Gareth Halfacree 10th December 2013, 21:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
That's an over simplification. Mavericks is a free upgrade from Snow Leopard onwards (That's the previous to the previous version of OS X BTW).
An oversimplification (one word, by the way)? On a web forum? Written on my phone?! SURELY NOT!

Nice to see you're back, by the way. Fancy responding to the various threads you left with your tail firmly between your legs, Guinevere? Like this one, or this one? Hmm? Surely you've had time to think of a response (hint: "I was wrong and I apologise" would be a great way to start) by now?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
So worst case scenario it costs £14 to upgrade your Mac(s).
That's an oversimplification (hah!) If your Mac is one of the early Intel models with only an x86 (not AMD64) processor in it, there is no way to upgrade to Mavericks without replacing the entire computer. What's the cheapest Mac again? £700?

Windows 8.1, on the other hand? Available in x86 and AMD64 flavours, no extra charge.

EDIT: To put that into perspective: were I to have an old Dell from 2000 - THIRTEEN YEARS AGO - featuring a 1.5GHz Willamette Pentium 4 and at least 1GB of RAM, I could install Windows 8.1 on it - whereas my friend's MacBook (an actual example from life, by the way - he runs Linux on it these days) from 2006 cannot be upgraded to a newer version of OS X than it runs now. Not for free, not for £14, not for any price. It could run Windows 8.1, though. Which is amusing.

EDIT 2: As r3loaded has correctly pointed out, the Willamette lacks the NX bit support required for Windows 8.1. The decade-old Athlon 64 family from 2003, however, includes all the instructions required for Windows 8.1 - and is still three years older than the unsupported MacBook of the example.
IvanIvanovich 10th December 2013, 23:06 Quote
I think it's high time Microsoft does something similar honestly. How long do transitions really need to be? Outside of lumbering enterprises do we really still need things like 16bit support for Windows 3.1 programs? Get rid of it! They can do one last x86 release for legacy hardware (pre x64) and software with a 10 years support cycle.
x64 has been around for what ten years as mainstream, and still we are largely stuck with 32bit. I would like to see OS and cpu go x64 ONLY and drop 32bit x86 all together. I think this should happen sooner rather than later.
Bauul 11th December 2013, 00:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Quote:
Originally Posted by murraynt
I smell windows 8 mobile being cut.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooxy
If that happens, I'm going to be more than a little hacked off. Out of all phone OSs that I've used in recent years, WinMo8 is the best one by a considerable margin - more so recently, as I've noticed the number of available apps has gone up.

Not going to happen. Microsoft has already said that it plans to roll Windows Phone and Windows RT into one. In fact, the first all-Metro closed version of Windows that Gareth's article talks about? That's the new Windows Mobile, for phones, phablets and tablets.

Makes sense too. There's still a distinctive divide between the way people expect their tablets/phones and laptops/PCs to work (i.e., a mouse and keyboard versus touchscreen).

I agree with Brooxy though: WP is a lovely bit of software. It's still missing a bunch of basic functionalities, but the basic stuff it does do it does better than any other smartphone OS IMO.
r3loaded 11th December 2013, 10:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
EDIT: To put that into perspective: were I to have an old Dell from 2000 - THIRTEEN YEARS AGO - featuring a 1.5GHz Willamette Pentium 4 and at least 1GB of RAM, I could install Windows 8.1 on it - whereas my friend's MacBook (an actual example from life, by the way - he runs Linux on it these days) from 2006 cannot be upgraded to a newer version of OS X than it runs now. Not for free, not for £14, not for any price. It could run Windows 8.1, though. Which is amusing.

Actually, you can't - Windows 8 requires certain CPU instructions such as NX which the old Pentium 4 does not support. I know, because I've tried it on an old Dell with a Northwood P4 with 1GB RAM ;)

You can hack around it to install Windows, but it'll crash as soon as it tries to execute an unsupported instruction.
Gareth Halfacree 11th December 2013, 10:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
Actually, you can't - Windows 8 requires certain CPU instructions such as NX which the old Pentium 4 does not support. I know, because I've tried it on an old Dell with a Northwood P4 with 1GB RAM ;)
Oh, I missed the NX requirement - I was looking purely at SSE2, which Willamette includes. I see that the 2004 Prescott Pentium 4 family includes XD (Intel's NX implementation) - so my point still stands, albeit not as dramatically. Wonder when AMD started to support NX... <heads to Google>

EDIT: 2003, apparently, in the SledgeHammer Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX - which include NX, SSE2 and PAE, which is everything you need to run Windows 8/8.1. I'll correct my earlier post to reflect that - cheers!
Star*Dagger 11th December 2013, 11:14 Quote
They should send a kill code to all computers running XP, giving people 7 days to get a clue with a big screen that pops up every ten minutes telling them how much time they have to buy a real OS.
Corky42 11th December 2013, 16:13 Quote
When Windows Threshold rolls out it maybe free for Windows Phone and RT
http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/11/5199446/microsoft-considers-free-versions-windows-phone-windows-rt
Quote:
Microsoft is considering making Windows Phone and Windows RT available free of charge to device makers.
Quote:
We understand that any decision to axe the license fees for Windows Phone and Windows RT would be backed by a push for revenue from Microsoft’s apps and services. Microsoft has been experimenting with ads in Windows 8 apps, and any associated revenue from those apps and the company’s built-in Bing search results would help offset the lack of license fees. Microsoft would also push consumers to subscribe to services like SkyDrive, Office, and Skype for additional revenue.
Nexxo 12th December 2013, 08:59 Quote
Who died and donated their brain to Microsoft all of a sudden? :p
damien c 12th December 2013, 09:40 Quote
Well I gave Windows 8.1 a try and ended up going back to Windows 7 and to my suprise it wasn't because of the lack of start menu, it was because the network card I was using wasn't working properly.

Since then I noticed my pc just felt sluggish when doing certain things compared to when I was on Windows 8.1 so I took the card out and have been back on Windows 8.1 for a week now and I honestly do not miss the start, menu that much at all just every now and then but it's easy to solve.

In the end this will probably bring more people to the latest OS.
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