The rumors about Microsoft's next major update for the Windows OS, beyond 8.1, began hitting the Internet earlier this year, with reports claiming the company is using the code name "Threshold" for those plans. Now a new report from known Microsoft info leaker "MSFTNerd" claims to have some more information on what might be included with "Threshold."
MSFTNerd's report has a caveat; he admits it is based on "a heavy dose of speculative information by Microsoft employees who are not directly involved in program management on these products and the boatload of semi-accurate rumors that are out there already." In other words, take this story with a larger grain of salt than usual from an Internet rumor post.
The report begins by claiming that a minor update to Windows 8.1 will be released by the third quarter of 2014, which will help the OS work better with Windows Phone 8.1 and the first major software update for the Xbox One.
Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s operating systems team, has already said the company is working on a unified app platform for its mobile and desktop Windows products. MSFTNerd's report claims that the goals for "Threshold" include offering a Windows common core "for touch/voice-first devices & mouse-first devices" along with a common app runtime. However, the interface for the touch and voice-first Windows products under Threshold will be different than the mouse-first devices. The report also says Microsoft's cloud services core will have an separate development schedule and will have different front ends for each interface.
The touch-first SKU for "Threshold" will be made for 4 to 8 inch devices, from smartphones to "phablets", according to this report, while the mouse-first version will be made for 10 to 30 inch devices such as tablets, notebook, hybrids and all-in-one PCs. Finally, the report claims the voice-first SKU will be made for products that have 40 to 80 inch displays. This sounds like it will be designed for the large screen Perspective Pixel PCs as well as for game consoles like the Xbox One that hook up to big screen TVs and are controlled by the new Kinect hardware.
The report also claims that the official start of development for Threshold is supposed to happen by the spring of 2014. However, it adds that could change depending on a number of factors, including the basic issue of making all of this work from a engineering aspect. It's also possible that the new CEO of Microsoft, who will likely be picked early in 2014, might have different plans for Windows.