Developers will be getting a sneak peek at Windows "Threshold," Microsoft's stab at a unified Windows ecosystem that is expected to span its flagship OS, Windows Phone and Xbox One, during the next Build conference, according to Paul Thurrott of Windows SuperSite.
Threshold also marks the beginning of the end for Windows 8. "At the Build developer conference in April 2014, Microsoft will discuss its vision for the future of Windows, including a year-off release code-named 'Threshold' that will most likely be called Windows 9." Build 2014 takes place April 2-4 in San Francisco.
The first rumblings of Windows Threshold were leaked in early December, following an internal email from Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson. He made mention of Threshold while referencing "plans for his unified operating-system engineering group," according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.
"If all goes according to early plans, Threshold will include updates to all three OS platforms (Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone) that will advance them in a way to share even more common elements." wrote Foley. "Threshold doesn't refer to a single Windows OS," she added.
Similar to Windows Blue (Windows 8.1), Threshold will encompass a "wave of operating systems across Windows-based phones, devices and gaming consoles," said Foley. Threshold draws its name from the fictional universe featuring the company's Halo video game series.
Build 2014 "will hit just weeks after Microsoft completes its corporate reorganization," said Thurrott. Microsoft embarked on the massive "One Microsoft" reorganization effort in July.
As further proof that Threshold will help unify the Windows ecosystem, Thurrott revealed that his sources told him that the show "will surprisingly be very much focused on Windows Phone and Xbox." Moreover, the first official glimpse at Threshold will offer guidance on how the company plans to recover from lackluster Windows 8 adoption.
"Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public," wrote Thurrott, citing figures showing that the free Windows 8.1 update "is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment." Calling the situation "a disaster," he said, Threshold must appeal to the massive traditional PC user base "while enticing users to adopt this new Windows on new types of personal computing devices."
"In short, it needs to be everything that Windows 8 is not," he added.
Microsoft is hoping that history repeats. Similar to how Windows 7 rose from the ashes of coolly received Windows Vista, Threshold is expected to help the company atone for Windows 8. "To distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle, Microsoft is currently planning to drop the Windows 8 name and brand this next release as Windows 9," said Thurrott while allowing for the possibility that plans could change.
Build 2014 attendees will have to wait a while to get their hands on Threshold. "Microsoft will not be providing developers with an early alpha release of 'Threshold'," wrote Thurrott. The general public may only have to wait a little over a year, however. If all goes according to plan, Microsoft expects Windows 9 to launch in April 2015.