Windows 9 Rumors: New Start Menu, Apps on Desktop, More

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Ever since Windows 8 debuted in October 2012, PC users have been searching for ways to improve Microsoft’s struggling OS. The Redmond, Wash.-based company sent out its first wave of major Windows 8 updates through Windows 8.1, which brought some minor enhancements when it premiered a year after Windows 8. But while the OS looks and feels nothing like its previous iterations, the next major overhaul could bring Windows back to its design roots. Microsoft may still be months away from announcing what could be Windows 9, but here’s a look at what we think we know so far.

The Classic Start Menu Returns

Windows 8 users have been clamoring for the return of the classic Start menu since the software's inception, and Microsoft is finally ready to deliver. The company confirmed that the latest version of Windows will be getting a fully functional Start menu in Desktop mode at this year's Build conference.

The new Start menu serves as a hybrid of old and new, with a Windows 7-style list of apps on the left and the colorful, dynamic live tiles from Windows 8 on the right. If you don’t feel like waiting for Windows 9, there are several third-party apps that mirror the Start menu quite accurately, including Stardock Start 8 ($5) and Classic Shell.

MORE: 5 Windows 8 Apps to Bring Back the Start Menu

Mobile Features Come to Desktop

Windows 9 is expected to borrow a few features from Windows Phone 8.1, starting with the Cortana voice assistant. Spotted on previous builds of Windows Threshold, the desktop version of Cortana will support both spoken and typed requests for things like weather and sports scores. 

According to PCWorld, two more Windows Phone 8.1 features could come to Windows 9 in the form of Wi-Fi Sense and Storage Sense. Wi-Fi sense automatically connects users to public Wi-Fi hotspots, which could come in handy when using a Windows 9 laptop at a coffee shop or library. Storage Sense organizes your apps by size, giving you a clearer idea of what's eating up your hard drive space. 

No More Charms Menu

The Windows 8 swipe-in Charms menu is a convenient way to pull up settings or search your PC if you've got a touchscreen, but using it can be a pain with a touch-less display. Fortunately, Windows 9 is likely to ax the Charms menu completely for desktop users. We're not sure where the Charms functions (Search, Share, Devices and Settings) will move to, but Winbeta notes that those same features may become accessible from each individual app window, near the minimize icon.

Threshold: A More Unified Windows

The most prominent rumor surrounding the next version of Windows is its codename: Threshold. But the title is more than just an internal reference point-- it’s a callback to one of Microsoft’s biggest franchises. Microsoft borrows this name from the planet around which the first halo ring orbited in the original “Halo” game, as Windows guru Mary Jo Foley reports. The Threshold update will reportedly include updates to three major platforms: the Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone.  Thus, the codename refers to the “wave” of operating systems we’ll see across Windows-based phones, laptops, tablets and Xbox gaming consoles. Part of this unification includes a singular app store that will house applications for all of its operating systems, according to Foley.

Metro Apps on Your Desktop

In the next version of Windows, you may be able to run Metro apps in floating windows on the desktop. You can already do this today with third-party tools such as Modern Mix, but this functionality could be built into the OS soon enough. As is the case with the Windows Start Menu, Thurrott says this feature may also be optional.

MORE: 8.1 Worst Windows 8.1 Annoyances And How to Fix Them

Improved Metro User Interface

In addition to possibly being able to run Metro apps on your desktop, the next version of Windows may bring some favorable changes to the tiled UI. Thurrott reports that “maturing and fixing” this interface will be a “major focus of Threshold,” although there’s no telling exactly what changes are coming.

Three Distinct Flavors

Though Microsoft is pushing for a more unified Windows experience, Windows 9 could have a distinct feel based on your device. ZDNet reports that the software will emphasise Desktop mode on traditional desktops and laptops, while hybrids like the Surface Pro 3 will automatically switch between Desktop and Metro UI modes based on whether or not there's a connected keyboard. For those using tablets or smartphones, Windows 9 will reportedly use the touch-based Metro UI exclusively.

Release Date

Based on reports, Windows 9 could hit PC as soon as this fall. Microsoft is having an official Windows event in San Francisco on Sept. 30, when they plan to reveal "What's next for Windows and the enterprise." Invites for the event don't specify Windows 9, but based on the rumors we've heard so far, the software's official reveal seems all but guaranteed. 

Author Bio
Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco, LAPTOP Staff Writer
Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.
Lisa Eadicicco, LAPTOP Staff Writer on
Add a comment
  • Michael ofori Says:

    thanks for letting me no more.

  • stan hileman Says:

    This is a sad tragedy to see Microsoft take such a golden reputation and just squander it and throw it away as though it means nothing. I was a longtime loyal GM fan but now I happily drive a Toyota and I was a longtime loyal fan of Microsoft and plan to happily use an Apple. Microsoft was huge and popular and magnificent but so was the Titanic.

  • Jeremy Says:


    Here's what I want from a desktop or a laptop that doesn't have a detachable tablet feature:

    1) the Windows 7 Start button...because I enjoy it and its easy and comfortable that's why;

    2) spider solitaire that I can play from my desktop without having to use the f'ing games app. You would be surprised how many people do this. MILLIONS; and

    3) the ability to shut down this new always up continuous connection to the cloud. Some people use the cloud. I don't. Some people

  • Gagle Says:

    Some people live on a computer. Some people have a life apart from a computer. For me a computer is a tool, not life itself. I am so tired of learning a new system every time i want to use a computer or send a gmail. What if you had to spend an hour learning a new system every time you used your microwave? If you use the microwave all day you could keep abreast of the OS. But if it's a devise use use occasionally, you would get tired of spending more time learning to use it than actually using it. Gmail is the worst.
    I'm am so tired of learning a new version every time I use my computer, I don't want to update windows until the new version is out.

  • David Navratil Says:

    Long time windows desktop user (XP & Win 7). Just bought my 1st laptop and it has Window 8.1 on it! Got to start learning how to use it!! Your article was great, Tks - D.N.

  • Eni Says:

    Windows 8 has some usability issues, but it is the future. The biggest problem with the OS no one is mentioning is the lack of HiDPI support from software vendors such as Adobe. If they want to sell PC laptops/tablets ,Microsoft needs to rally developers to support HiDPI. Why is HiDPI essential? if you are running any resolution higher than 1920x1280 the touch interface and legibility of text and icons in the applications are too small making those application unusable for touch (or even with a mouse). Meanwhile PC manufacturers are rushing headlong into producing HiDPI screens (basically the equivalent of 'retina" on the Apple OS)

  • Dude man Says:

    Microsoft needs to fix their broken OS. Windows 8 was bad but at least it worked. Then I made the mistake of upgrading to windows 8.1 which prevents my graphics card driver from working and also freezes when I idle. Also, these aren't issues with my rig. These are issues that have been effecting several windows 8.1 users.
    Who makes an OS that can't even work properly?

  • curmet Says:

    Look, win8 happened. I personally have no issue with it, but it's not the end of the world or end of computers.

    What MS's mindset is (what it seems like) that it does the extreme and then learns the balance from that. Instead of going baby steps and change one thing at a time with every new release/update, it goes overboard in some respect and puts everything on the line and then it sees what works and what doesn't. The next version of windows, whether it is 8.2/threshold, or 9, will be like 7 is now.

    Simply because by the time a new windows is due, the kinks of and majority of annoying things are worked out.

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