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Prediction: Windows 9 will hit the market in 2014

Most are expecting Windows 9 to drop in 2015. That may be what Microsoft wants us to think, but it might not be the reality.

So the conventional wisdom now is that Threshold, the codenamed next major update to Windows, will be branded Windows 9 to lose the taint of unlucky 8 (ironic, since 8 is considered a lucky number by the Chinese) and ship in early 2015.

What amuses me is how many people are buying it. I guess so much news whizzes by us in the tech press on a daily basis that we forget rather easily.

Set your wayback machines to 2008. Windows Vista has been an unmitigated failure. Yes, some of the early problems, like shoddy device drivers, had been fixed, but its fundamental architectural problems were beyond patching. Microsoft needed a new OS.

So at the time the company said that Windows 7, which was at that point a codename, would ship in Q1 2010. However, a little birdie told me the release dates. In September of 2008 I learned of a first beta in January, 2009, RC code by April, and gold code by June 2009. All of this came from a friend inside the company. (Journalism 101: sources, sources, sources)

This is not to toot my own horn. The point I am making is that Microsoft under-promised and over-delivered. Microsoft clung firmly to the Q1 2010 release date in spite of the info I had to the contrary and the fact that the Windows 7 beta was in solid shape.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out why, until I was listening in to a Dell earnings call in mid-2009 and the CFO said that Dell expected sales to drop in the quarter prior to the launch of Windows 7, due to pent-up demand and reluctance to buy a Vista machine.

That's when I understood why Microsoft clung to the release date misinformation for so long. It was trying to protect its OEM partners from the Osborne Effect.

We all know PC sales are tanking. What would happen if Microsoft said a new Windows was coming this year instead of next? Any sales taking place now would likely slow, and the last thing Microsoft wants is XP holdouts to stall because Windows 9 is coming in a few months. So it would make sense to push the launch date out further to avoid holdouts or hampering sales any further.

So I fully expect history to repeat. I don't expect Windows 9 in 2015, but this year in time for Christmas. Let's face some facts here. Windows 8 is not a technological hairball like Vista was. Once you get past the Modern UI, it's a solid OS and runs fast and smooth. I've never heard complaints about Windows 8 performance, only the UI and the lack of a Start menu. Now, how hard would it be for the new team at Microsoft to minimize the Modern UI and add a Start menu?

The Build conference is in three months. Microsoft won't release Windows 9 without a public beta, and if there is a time to release a beta, it's at that show. If I'm right, we'll see a beta. If not, let's see who remembers this prediction.

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