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Microsoft to debut Windows 9 as a developer preview this fall

A report suggested today that Microsoft will reveal its next generation of operating system in a developer preview next month.
A report suggested today that Microsoft will reveal its next generation of operating system in a developer preview next month.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The next generation of Windows may be unveiled as early as next month according to a report.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley said in an article today the tech company will debut Windows 9 as a developer preview sometime in September or October. It will be the first public hands-on look at the successor to the controversial Windows 8, which Microsoft released two years ago.

The company has been working on new features to address concerns and gripes over the changes made to the user interface in Windows 8. Microsoft's touch-friendly approach and new start screen alienated many traditional mouse and keyboard users who in turn shied away from upgrading or buying new computers. Microsoft sold only 200 million Windows 8 licenses within 15 months after release, which fell short of Windows 7's 240 million units in 12 months. PC sales declined shortly after the release of Windows 8, which many experts attributed to consumer concerns about the operating system.

Some of the rumored improvements include the return of the start menu, which Microsoft removed in Windows 8 in favor of a touch-friendly start screen with live tiles. Images leaked last month show what appears to be a hybrid of the Windows 8 start screen and the old start menu from Windows 7 and earlier. If accurate, the leaks show that the new start menu will look like the old start screen but with auto-updating live tiles. Along with a new start menu, Foley said Windows 9's metro apps featured on the start menu will run as applications in desktop mode. Microsoft may also remove the charms bar, introduced in Windows 8, for non-touch enabled devices. Both moves show Microsoft plans to shift at least some of its focus back towards traditional desktop and laptops.

Another big rumored feature involves technology already available on Microsoft's Windows Phone devices. The company plans to add its digital personal assistant, Cortana, into the next version of Windows. The move could allow simplified management of a user's daily digital lives, giving Windows 9 a broader appeal for home and office use. The move would lead to greater integration between various Microsoft operating systems. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described plans for a single operating system for all its platforms last month.

Foley expects the preview to be open to developers and the public alike after its reveal sometime in the fall.