The Windows 8 will be launched in October this year, but there is speculation of what the future will be for Microsoft. Questions, like if the company brings out Windows 9, what will be its features and what will be new in it, are being answered by some experts. Here David Murphy of MaximumPC speculates on Windows 9 and offers some opredictions.
What’s the likely future direction of Microsoft Windows? The general consumer reaction to Windows 8 will likely to play a role in what Microsoft decides to do within its big follow-up.
Since one can’t mention Windows 8 without saying something about its Metro UI in the very next breath, here’s the first prediction: Metro is just the beginning. The meeting ground, as it were. It feels as if Microsoft’s grand goal is to unify its devices under a single operating system.
So what are the benefits of transforming Windows into a hardware agnostic platform? Easy: One look and feel for consumers, whether they’re using their next-generation Xbox consoles, PCs, smartphones, or tablets. One development platform and unified APIs would allow apps and features to cross over between devices without demanding a huge chunk of developer resources.
Microsoft will make Metro (or an equivalent tablet-style UI) the dominant measure of Windows 9, which will force the company to find some way to make a simple interface complex when it’s warranted. Perhaps this will involve a tighter integration of Windows Explorer (et al) within Metro, versus the cop-out “switchy interface” treatment of Windows 9′s predecessor OS.
Microsoft is going to do everything it can to pull devices together as tightly as possible underneath the Windows 9 umbrella. Your tablet won’t just be an independent product, for example. It’ll interact with your primary computer’s Windows 9 installation as if it was your primary (or secondary) monitor. It’ll be your Xbox controller or Wii U-style helper interface. It’ll be your remote control – not just for interacting with other Windows 9 products, but the traffic cop for guiding data transfers and/or streams to the other Windows 9 devices you own.
Windows 9′s going to be tied into the cloud. Just how much, though, remains the big question. At the very least, you can count on deeper integration – perhaps even build directly into the file system – of Microsoft’s SkyDrive-based hosting.
The time is not far off when cloud-based storage won’t be a separate app you load within Windows or a folder you simply drop things into. You’ll still be able to keep certain apps and mission-critical files on your desktop (for performance or security), but Windows’ default storage mindset will switch from the local to the ethereal.
The bulk of Windows 9 (or 10?) would live in the cloud. A “buy once, run anywhere” concept could allow a user to authenticate into Windows 9 on any hardware device, and then just as easily download and run apps he or she has previously purchased via the good ol’ Microsoft Store. Given just how app-centric Windows 8′s Metro UI has become, it only makes sense to let users download (or stream) a “Microsoft Office” app, or a partner’s “Adobe Photoshop” app, for example. The world is going digital distribution: Microsoft should, and will, embrace its conveniences for end users.