Why I Don’t Trust Those Windows 9 Rumours

Why I Don’t Trust Those Windows 9 Rumours

Speculation about Microsoft’s apparent plans for Windows 9 and Windows 10 has been bouncing around the internet this morning. They’re based on no more than a rumour from a single source, and for the most part they either reiterate stuff we already know or suggest a degree of ignorance about how Windows actually works right now.

The rumours come from a report at WinBeta, and in turn are based on claims from a single unnamed source identified as WZOR. Normally at Lifehacker we don’t discuss rumours; we’re interested in actual advice on products you can use right now. But these claims are weird enough to deserve a little separate discussion.

These are the main claims made:

  • Windows 9, due in around a year, will be another incremental upgrade along the lines of Windows 8.1. However, the WinBeta article also adds: “He claims that Microsoft is planning to bring the old Aero interface back, but not as we all know it.”
  • Windows RT and Windows Phone will be merged into a single code base.
  • Windows 10 will be a full ‘cloud OS’, with the majority of processing taking place on external servers rather than on your local device.

It’s worth noting that the Windows 9 and 10 labels seem to have been chosen by the reporters for convenience. It seems highly unlikely that Microsoft would iterate version numbers that quickly, though it is aiming for annual updates.

Here’s my reaction to all of these claims:

The Aero claim doesn’t make much sense. While Windows 8 is indeed distinguished by the emphasis on the ‘Modern’ interface, if you run desktop apps you are indeed using the ‘Aero interface’, or something closely related to it, most of the time. This is true even on Windows RT (run any of the Office apps or explorer and you’re back in the familiar Windows environment).

So either this claim means that the modern interface is being killed off altogether (which contradicts the other claim being made here), or it means that tweaks to the interface are being described as ‘Aero’ to appeal to people who still find the concept of the Modern interface strange.

The merger is quite possible, but not news. Windows RT has not been a conspicuous success, so changes are to be expected. However, the notion that Microsoft wants to push development for Windows and Windows Phone to as much of a common code base as possible is not news. Much of its current development outreach emphasises the ease of switching between the platforms, and the interfaces are becoming more and more similar. As I’ve noted above, it also seems somewhat contradictory to suggest that Aero is returning but that Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 will merge.

Microsoft’s cloud strategy is heavily hybrid-focused. Again, it’s not news as such that Microsoft sees potential for applications to offload processing to the cloud; more specifically, to its own Azure system. At all the events I attended for our World Of Servers project in the first half of this year, that prospect was raised.

However, the emphasis for enterprise server deployments (which is the most profitable part of Microsoft right now) has been on a hybrid approach, mixing cloud services with on-premises processing, at either the server or the desktop. It seems to me very unlikely that Microsoft would abandon this approach entirely. I’m sure we’ll see more emphasis on cloud services going forward (we already have SkyDrive and Bing integration in Windows 8.1), but I’ll be surprised if we’re suddenly told ‘right, your desktop processor is irrelevant’ and we all switch to low-powered devices. The world is more diverse than that.

I’m off to TechEd Australia this week, and there’s a slim chance we’ll hear more details about Windows 9 plans. However, I really, really doubt it.

That’s my take. What’s yours?


  • Wow, Microsoft had such a good thing going, yet they have completely lost touch with my needs. I just want a stable shell that i can configure and use to MY liking, you know, like a OS. The whole idea of windows was that if you didn’t like something change it. Now they are forcing junk like metro on everyone with no ability to remove.
    From what I see, they are reacting to their majority audience (ageing mum and dads that don’t know that there is an alternative to IE, and need things like skype pre-installed and in their face).
    Honestly, power users need to look elsewhere to get what they use too in windows.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if they made a ‘cloud’ OS with a subscription service *cough* adobe *cough* unfortunately for Microsoft they no longer have a monopoly, there are viable alternatives.

    • Yeah! Because things should never change or move forward!

      I don’t know what you classify as a ‘power user’ but I’m a .NET Developer sitting here on my Surface Pro with W8, I’ve got Visual Studio running with a web app I’m building, I’ve got a VM running through Hyper-V and I’ve just set up WinRM between the website and VM. ALL of this is being done on the desktop that looks like an incremental update to W7 and functions even better because of things like the Windows Explorer rewrite.

      On top of that I have the Metro interface which works really well when I want to touch the screen (e.g. when I’m sitting on the lounge chair using it as a tablet browsing the net, reading news, reading & replying to emails, etc.). And despite what most people seem to think, I find the Metro Mail and Calendar apps fine for my personal Outlook.com AND work Exchange accounts (lack of a formatted signature block is about the only thing I miss).

      Sure the change from W7 to W8 is a bit of a ‘shock’ but I’m really not seeing the downside.

      • I am curios and would like to know how you do your programming?
        Do you use a proper keyboard or a the touch screen on Surface Pro? doesn’t the small screen of the Surface Pro bother you? Is the Hyper-V running on the Surface Pro or an external PC?


        • At work (i.e. now) I’m using the Surface Pro’s Type cover with the Surface on the desk connected to an external monitor above it. I have VS on the Surface Pros screen and the VM (yes, it’s running on the Surface Pro) on the external screen. I’m currently at 125% scaling and VS on a 10″ 1080p screen IS small. I find it usable but when W8.1 comes out I’ll be bumping up the scaling to 150% on the Surface (and hopefully maintaining 100% native res on the external monitor). At that point I think it will be perfect.

          At home I have a the Surface Pro mounted on an adjustable arm next to my monitor and I use the Surface as the 2nd display (i.e. external monitor is primary). I also have an Apple Keyboard and Logitech mouse. The arm lets me rotate the Surface between landscape and portrait and I mostly run Metro apps on it (PDF Reader, Mail, IE, Music, etc.) while using Desktop applications on the bigger external monitor.

          Btw there’s an add on for VS that lets you scroll with touch (the default behaviour is to select text).

  • There’s always a bunch of concept-builds of Windows that “unnamed sources” confuse with the one true direction. Back in the late 90s when Cairo, Neptune and other project code names were used, the Windows interfaces being tried out were far more radical than Metro/Modern.

    • I still think they should have gone with that metadata-driven file system they were experimenting with years back. The start menu has slowly moved in that direction, but the file system is still based on the age-old directory tree.

      • I believe the general OFS/WinFS vision is still there, waiting its day. Interoperability with other file systems was one of the big problems as it’s so easy to lose metadata from popular file formats that don’t support embedded packets.

  • Hmmm. Basically the return of the dumb client (terminal) yet again, which has been tried at least five times in the last 17 years. Each time it has a new name, but the failure is the same no matter what the name. Funny thing though, the name of the neutered client never involved the words “terminal” or “dumb”. Guess marketing was WAY to smart to allow that to slip by.

    Besides, they’ve already screwed up the edition numbers anyway. Windows 9 should have been the cloud edition, because that way they could call it Windows Cloud 9.

    At any rate, it looks like Microsoft has finally succumbed to what I call the “Mickey Rooney” school of management: “Hey, kids, I know what to do! We’ll put on a show! We can use the old, abandoned barn in the woods! Any you can be in it! And you! And you! And we can raise money, and ….”

    • Its pretty funny, when I started working at Volvo they were just phasing out the old WYSE dumb terminals with everyone raving about how they are the devil etc. Now at this new company its like I’m going backwards through time as they all cant wait to get these thin clients that are all ‘cloud’ connected … all I can say is HA HA HA HA

      • There’s always some wyse guy….

        Which James Bond film was it where a Russian computer virus suddenly enabled a bunch of dumb monochrome terminals to display high res colour graphics?

  • Good on you Angus for avoiding one of your usual tacts to phrase it as something like “why you are an idiot for believing Windows 9 rumors”.

    Instantly made the piece more enjoyable and more open to discussion. 10/10.

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