The IT industry has been abuzz for the past fortnight with the baffling – but hugely compelling – rumour that Windows 9 will be available by April 2015, or even by October 2014, according to one “well-known hacker”.
If there’s any truth to the gossip, it puts CIOs in a thorny position. With Windows 8 either still to be adopted or – worse – only just bedding in after considerable financial outlay, it could be a bitter pill to swallow if Microsoft chooses to unveil a new OS barely a year after the release of the last one.
But if this new OS – apparently codenamed “Threshold” – is on its way, what can it bring to the party to make up for all the features of Windows 8 that have proved so divisive? To help answer that question, we ran a poll on Computing.co.uk, in which 33 per cent of respondents demanded a proper Start button UI next time. Fourteen per cent asked for an identical UI across all platforms – including mobile – while seven per cent wanted the interface to look and feel more like Windows 98. Six per cent wanted less mucking about with off-screen gestures, hidden windows and progress bars.
We also included the option “Make it open source”, which 40 per cent of people voted for.
But, if you’re one of those who’d like to see Microsoft ditch its business model and make Windows free and customisable, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
But what about IT leaders who have had experience of deploying Windows 8? What would they like Windows 9 to deliver?.
We were last in touch with Doug Baker, IT service manager at fast food purveyor McDonald’s, when his department was on the cusp of deploying Windows 8. Around a year later, Baker told us: “We did deploy Windows 8, this being our tablet platform of choice for our corporate users, [but] we remain with Windows 7 on a non-touchscreen device as there is a user change to moving to Windows 8.”
Baker did not feel that users could adjust fast enough to Windows 8’s radically new interface.
As for Windows 9, Baker said “there needs to be an integration across the platforms to allow the real user experience, and a natural flow from device to device”.
“The other main point is better separation, either with integration of [Windows’ cloud-based remote systems administration tool] Intune, or in a self-standing way, to allow for work and play, so to speak, to really let the user have the freedom of the consumer experience, with the access and integration into corporate for a seamless experience.”
Gripes about Windows 8’s interface dominated our discussions with IT leaders about what they’d like to see from Microsoft’s next OS.
Paul Marsh, head of technology infrastructure at solutions and managed services provider Avanade, wants “evolution, not revolution”, suggesting the leap between Windows 7 and 8 was just too demanding.
“I’d like an easier implementation strategy,” he said. “The prospect of change holds back the enterprise from investing in new technology; IT managers need applications and software which can be implemented quickly and easily without disruption.”