Feeds

It's true, the START MENU is coming BACK to Windows 8, hiss sources

'Threshold' updates to restore beloved UI in 2015

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

Microsoft's forthcoming wave of Windows updates will streamline the OS and will even see the return of the much-missed Start menu, according to new reports.

Rumors that Redmond is planning a new round of updates to the various forms of its OS first surfaced last week, with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reporting that Microsoft will deliver a mass overhaul called "Threshold" that will bring significant changes to Windows, Windows RT, and Xbox One.

On Monday, Foley and fellow Microsoft-watcher Paul Thurrott both elaborated on those whispers, with each citing sources who claim the software giant will use Threshhold to address longstanding customer gripes with Windows 8.

According to Foley, this next round of updates – let's call it Windows 8.2, although no version number has been announced – will see Microsoft's OS consolidated into three versions, each aimed at a different market.

For starters, there will allegedly be a "modern" version of Windows that will be oriented around Windows Store apps, Redmond's touch-centric software model that debuted with Windows 8. This version will be similar to the current Windows RT OS that ships on Microsoft's ARM-based Surface tablets, but in its new incarnation it will span PCs, tablets, and phones, and it may run on the Intel chip architecture as well as ARM.

A second version of Windows will be aimed at customers who want a more traditional PC experience, Foley reports, with emphasis on the desktop and a UI designed for keyboards and mice.

There will also be a third version that targets enterprise customers, Foley's sources suggest. One difference with this version will be that instead of frequent, automatic updates delivered via the Windows Store, Microsoft will ship security fixes on a more predictable cadence to suit business IT admins.

The idea appears to be that Microsoft will tailor slightly different versions of its operating system for different audiences, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach it tried when it launched the touch-driven Windows 8.

Thurrott seems to agree with most of Foley's murmurings, but his own sources add that Redmond will also use the updates to address customer complaints about how Windows 8 works. For example, he claims, the so-called Windows 8.2 will allow users to run multiple Windows Store apps in windows on the desktop, rather than being forced to run them full screen even on high-resolution monitors, as they must do now.

And in even bigger news, Thurrott said that he expects the next version of Windows to bring back the traditional Start menu as an option, addressing what is perhaps customers' biggest gripe in much the same way that Windows 8.1 restored the ability to boot directly to the desktop. He added, however, that it's possible that this feature will only be available on versions of Windows that support the desktop, and not on the consumer-oriented, Windows Store–centric version.

How much credence do we give these rumors? It's always safest to be skeptical, but both Foley and Thurrott are seasoned Microsoft sleuths with reliable sources close to Redmond.

Even if these reports are accurate, however, there is still plenty of time for Microsoft's plans to change. Foley and Thurrott both agree that this next round of Windows updates isn't due to hit until 2015. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.