Windows Threshold: ARM preview and future releases

Over the past couple of week we’ve been sharing a lot of info on Microsoft’s next version of Windows, codenamed Threshold.

We’ve found out about some of the major changes coming to the platform, including new UI features, the return of the start menu and some tidbits about Cortana. We also know that Windows Threshold will be released in preview form next month but now we are starting to learn more about RT.

That’s all very exciting and now we have another piece of the puzzle thanks to the always excellent Mary Jo Foley. Her sources are saying that the Windows Threshold technical preview will be limited to Intel/x86 setups, but that an ARM preview will be coming early next year.

The ARM version is expected to work both on tablets and Windows Phones, aligning the ecosystems further. Mary Jo Foley also mentions that the ARM version of Threshold will not include the classic Desktop, meaning this preview will finally show us all the new features coming to Microsoft’s modern UI.

On top of all of this, Windows Threshold, widely expected to be called Windows 9 upon its release early next year, might be Microsoft’s final major Windows release. Instead of new major versions such as Windows 10, 11 and so on Microsoft will continue updating Threshold with new features and fixes.

This is a big change compared to the way the company is used to doing business, but in a world of fast cadence releases and mobile first, cloud first technology, this new approach may be the only way forward.

Source: ZDNet

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Huawei drops Windows Phone citing lack of profit

Next Story

OnePlus One explodes in owner's pocket

63 Comments

Please Login or Sign Up to post a comment.

Sounds like yet another false information coming from her. Loosing the desktop on devices like the Surface 2 ,which have keyboards and mouse support, when soon RT apps will run on desktop, is stupid.

Chrome. All this talk about Windows Phone/RT merging, I think part of the equation that is not being emphasized is that it will also be positioned as Microsoft's response to Chrome and power $199 tablets. Also, I believe the desktop is being removed because in part it is also being 'merged' with the Metro UI as it is in Windows 9. I believe Windows 9 and Windows 9 RT will actually look similar and not have the desktop vs Start screen discrepancy that exist now.

I can see them make a Windows 10 if Windows 9 fails for some reason. But since Microsoft is making a clear split between the tablet experience and the non-touch desktop experience, it shouldn't be a problem. A familiar interface combined with the speed of Windows 8, it will be a succes, should at least convince businesses to upgrade to W9 instead of W7. Although I do hope they will have a easy way to switch between the two interfaces for devices such as the Surface Pro.

Joshie said,
I can see them making a Windows 10 even if Windows 9 succeeds.

Yea.. duh.. in time when Windows takes a big step forwards (under the hood and in appearance) then no doubt MS will use W10 as a way to distinct between the new edition and the old edition.

However the article clearly states Microsoft's intent to make the 'Windows 9' brand something that stays around while enjoying minor updates (i.e. 9.1, 9.2, etc). So that is what I'm responding to.

My argument is that they probably wanted to do the same with Windows 8. But due to its bad rep they decided to skipWindows 8.2 and go for Windows 9.

The ARM version isn't being released until early next year...could this be because that's when Gemini is expected to be ready? I think so!

Indeed. I also think that not having a touch friendly version of Office was the reason why Windows RT had a desktop in the first place.

Thanks,

There's an obvious strategy here and if Microsoft is not following it they are truly stupid: Push the windowed Metro store and apps on the Desktop so people will be compelled to use them and developers will notice; I have used ModernMix and Metro apps on a window are amazing, they look great, the UI (buttons, etc) get resized for mouse/keyboard use. Sandboxing is great, but they need to allow more integration with the system. If developers make Metro apps because of the inevitable high usage of the Desktop, then those apps will make a Metro-only platform like Windows RT more viable. And Windows Phone, which is very good already, would obviously benefit from having more apps.

Mr. Dee said,
They have to have a version 10 just to round things off. After that, just follow Apple with the point release.

If they move to Apple's pricing model for consumer, I'm in.

Based on this article, RT are not limited to just surface but it's heading towards all android tablet as well just like window phone. The scenario with window 9 will include license for mobile and desktop and can be installed on any android tablet. Providing eco system to all. Win win.

minster11 said,
Based on this article, RT are not limited to just surface but it's heading towards all android tablet as well just like window phone. The scenario with window 9 will include license for mobile and desktop and can be installed on any android tablet. Providing eco system to all. Win win.

RT wasn't limited to just Surface in the first place. Samsung, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, etc. developed RT devices. They all stopped because they didn't sell not because MS prevented them.

Ugh...... I really don't want to have the MUI to disappear on desktop PC's, and the desktop disappear on RT.
Just make it optional, so one can choose to have it on or off. I would hate to loose the desktop on my S2, and the MUI on my pc's.... :-\

No way. They should not get rid of the desktop for tablet RT users. I enjoy switching back and forth. If they are concerned about confusing consumers they should make Desktop a feature that is OFF by default. It's like they are deliberately dumbing down the OS for the average joe and I don't like it!

Why? The desktop is useless on RT tablets because all it's used for is Office, which a universal touch version is coming soon and tons more improvements coming. There will still be tablets that have full Windows and the Desktop (e.g. SP3, Dell Venue Pro, etc.).

Actually, windows RT has a home brew community that use a memory edit to allow non Microsoft approved desktop apps.

When I had my RT tablet, I used to run rainmeter and notepad++ on the desktop.

Ad Man Gamer said,
Actually, windows RT has a home brew community that use a memory edit to allow non Microsoft approved desktop apps.

When I had my RT tablet, I used to run rainmeter and notepad++ on the desktop.

Yep, and I would not have bought my Surface RT tablet if it weren't for this "jailbreak". I use Putty, KeepPass2, Dosbox, etc, quite a bit, and the device is some much more useful than Microsoft's narrow vision for it. It will be a big shame if the RT's desktop goes away. I wish they would also give us a "Windows 9 Pro for ARM" that includes everything the x86 version has including an unlocked desktop, for those of us that actually like having a full Windows OS on our ARM devices.

Instead Windows on ARM is turning out to be just another dumbed down phone OS. Very disappointing.

You do realise that Windows RT devices are meant to be Microsoft's answer to the iPad and not a laptop replacement, that's what Surface Pro is for.

Removing the desktop from Windows RT removes the confusion between RT based tablets and Windows 8 tablets.

neo158 said,

You do realise that Windows RT devices are meant to be Microsoft's answer to the iPad and not a laptop replacement, that's what Surface Pro is for.

Removing the desktop from Windows RT removes the confusion between RT based tablets and Windows 8 tablets.


I prefer the versatility of the RT over an iPad any day. They shouldn't remove features just to cater to those who don't understand x86 desktop apps don't work on ARM. Like I said, make it an option, even if it is OFF by default.

And I'd have to disagree, desktop on RT is not useless. I enjoy using it to manage files on the device and my MicroSD. Also, I use it to setup homegroups to access all my media files. Depending on your needs, RT can serve the purpose of your laptop.

Microsoft have to cater to the lowest common denominator, in this case the average user who has no knowledge of what x86 and ARM are and removing the desktop from RT resolves the issue for those users. On here nearly all of us are IT pros but we shouldn't forget that not all people are like us.

So you're saying that an ARM device can replace an x86 device?

That's great, which is why having it an option that is OFF by default will clear up the confusion. Advanced users can choose to use it if they'd like.

And no, that's not what I'm saying. Obviously an ARM device cannot fully replace an x86 device. I mainly used laptop for simple things like browsing the web, media, reading powerpoints in class and clinical web data at work. In this case, yes, it serves the same needs of what I used my laptop for. That's why I said "Depending on your needs, RT can serve the purpose of your laptop".

"Depending on your needs, RT can serve the purpose of your laptop".

That line to an average user, coupled with the desktop and that includes just having an option that is OFF by default is exactly what would cause confusion.

This might be the end of Windows RT for me. I find it really useful having access to the desktop and all the Windows tools that come with it and I doubt too many of them will be ported to Metro.

If they kill the Desktop in RT, that should indicate they are ready with Office Modern at a minimum. That will work. A bigger problem is no digitizer. RT, with Office, a Wacom digitizer, and cellular for ~500 would work well I think. I just doubt it's coming. Right now even a Pro with cellular at a higher cost, with a digitizer would be welcome.

They're not stupid and obviously won't make the same mistake with confusing users. This is only great news for Windows for smaller screens. Also - the desktop on RT is useless, the desktop on full Windows PCs and tablets is useful. With touch Office, and they'll probably bring the remaining missing tools from the desktop to modern - I think this is only the start of something great.

Why does it say, "Windows Threshold, widely expected to be called Windows 9 upon its release early next year, might be Microsoft's final major Windows release"? I really don't like Microsoft naming next Windows as Windows F because it might scare me unless they have a research done on which O.S. does your desktop or laptop computer has and are you going to throw away your desktop or laptop computer?

I hope Microsoft understands that.

Pretty sure existing devices won't update to WP9. There is already leaked info about major wp build bump to 8.15.xxxx.xx which I guess would be WP8.x and the Threshold with merged API for ARM would be for new devices in Feb.

I don't agree. They made a commitment that all devices will be supported for at least 18 months. With all WP8 phones sharing the same kernel as the Windows, there should be no reason that all devices are updatable to threshold. Especially when they said themselves there will be only be 2 versions of Windows now.

If what they say about this being the last true version of Windows, is anybody else expecting them to call it Windows One.

so, why microsoft did not merger its ARM and x86 architecture as one OS like intel powered android device (with ARM Translation Layer) ?

So wait, Threshold will be barely compatible with RT and Windows Phone? I know it's meant to superseed both, but how compatible is it with either.

LauRoman said,
So wait, Threshold will be barely compatible with RT and Windows Phone? I know it's meant to superseed both, but how compatible is it with either.

Where is this implied?

@agtsmith @j2006

I meant the ARM version of threshold. It will most likely not be based on RT (which was basically a half-assed port of Winx86). It will either be a continuation of WP 8(.1?) or an overhaul of it. In either case what will software compatibility be like?

Those of you that think you can run the same software on all 3 (or 4?) platforms, you keep lying to yourselves.

WTF are you talking about, iOS, which is based on MacOS, runs on both the iPhone and iPad and those are two different devices. Windows 8.1 does exactly that already and with Windows 9 RT merging with WP9 that will be one OS with different interfaces based on the device, tablet or phone, so yes I do think you can run the same software on more than one platform.

You do realise that Windows 9 RT and Windows 9 are for different architectures, RT is for ARM and Windows 9 will be for x86 and x64 devices!!!!

LauRoman said,
@agtsmith @j2006

I meant the ARM version of threshold. It will most likely not be based on RT (which was basically a half-assed port of Winx86). It will either be a continuation of WP 8(.1?) or an overhaul of it. In either case what will software compatibility be like?

Not sure what "based on RT means".

Windows RT was an ARM-compiled version of Windows 8 with the desktop interface.
Windows Threshold for ARM will be an ARM-compiled version of Windows 9 without the desktop interface.

Makes sense really, the phone/tablet side of things is going to take longer to fine tune so a preview for that coming early next year is no big surprise in my mind. The desktop side with the new menu/start screen, as a very early tech preview, for end of September is easier to picture happening.

"Instead of new major versions such as Windows 10, 11 and so on Microsoft will continue updating Threshold with new features and fixes"

That doesn't make sense. Wonder what revenue/licensing model they will use.

Ronit Bhattacharjee said,
"Instead of new major versions such as Windows 10, 11 and so on Microsoft will continue updating Threshold with new features and fixes"

That doesn't make sense. Wonder what revenue/licensing model they will use.

They're still going to be charging OEMs licensing fees, and people who want to upgrade from Vista/7 or even 8 later on at some point will still have to, probably, pay something to do so. It's just that those already on it will enjoy free updates to the OS, much like how you get on the WP side.

Now maybe when "threshold" is all done and they have no more updates planned for it they'll push out something else, but for now there's a large number of potential upgrade customers who you can charge and also all the new people who will buy hardware that gets them a OEM licensing fee. Remember, Windows is only license free on phone and mini-tablets, that still leaves millions of laptops, desktops and so on that they'll get money from each year.

Welcome to Windows!

Be it on ARM / Windowsphone or Intel/x86, all platforms are gateways to the Modern apps.

One Windows to run them all

That could happen with user-selectable UIs suitable for the device on which Windows will be run. Why is Microsoft still showing those (tacky) tiles on images of how Windows-9 is going to look? Does that mean that Microsoft is still stuck in the mentality of "one size fits all?" Oh well.

Mugwump00 said,
They're showing what where? You haven't seen "Windows-9".

Yeah, one runtime for all platforms - that be a ridiculous goal!!

Universal Store applications - They're in the store at this very moment, and they're still very much a part of Threshold.

TsarNikky said,
That could happen with user-selectable UIs suitable for the device on which Windows will be run. Why is Microsoft still showing those (tacky) tiles on images of how Windows-9 is going to look? Does that mean that Microsoft is still stuck in the mentality of "one size fits all?" Oh well.

Because Live Tiles are still very much a part of the next release? Live tiles are not going away.

Dot Matrix said,

Universal Store applications - They're in the store at this very moment, and they're still very much a part of Threshold.

I should have /s'd my reply to the ever-portentous Tsar. I'm all-for platform commonality and I assume as 'Threshold' displaces WP then developers will be alleviated from writing any 'platform specific code'..? Anything that brings Spotify sooner to my RT!

Mugwump00 said,

I should have /s'd my reply to the ever-portentous Tsar. I'm all-for platform commonality and I assume as 'Threshold' displaces WP then developers will be alleviated from writing any 'platform specific code'..? Anything that brings Spotify sooner to my RT!


My bad :p

No one is saying the tiles interface has to go away. Microsoft needs to give users the choice of appropriate UI to use for their hardware.

TsarNikky said,
No one is saying the tiles interface has to go away. Microsoft needs to give users the choice of appropriate UI to use for their hardware.

Which is what they are aiming for:

Windows Phone - Modern UI
Surface/Surface 2 - Modern UI
Surface Pro/Surface Pro 2/Surface Pro 3 - Desktop & Modern UI
Laptop w/o Touchscreen - Desktop
Laptop w/Touchscreen - Desktop & Modern UI
Desktop w/o Touchscreen - Desktop
Desktop w/Touchscreen - Desktop & Modern UI

Logical, but what's your source?

I don't think there's any point to a 'Modern free' mode, if they're coding for windowed Modern apps. I'll be happy to use Modern apps more of the time when windowed on my desktop (I find ModernMix clunky).

I wonder whether hybrid devices will be able to detected being detached from their keyboard/mouse and switch Modern apps back to full-screen - I'd think that would be a good option.