What Comes After Windows 8.1? Windows 8.2? Windows 9?

Windows 8.1 arrives soon. I’ve seen a couple things on what comes next. Here’s my take on what Microsoft needs to do.

Let’s face it. Windows 8 was a mess. The user interface was/is so different from the Windows XP/Windows 7 paradigm that most users I know either won’t use Windows 8 or have switched to Mac or Linux. For Microsoft, this is a huge issue. Aside from Windows Phone, which by all accounts has a great interface, but a microscopic user base, Live Tiles don’t work well on a traditional PC, and THAT my friends, is where Microsoft makes their living.

So what’s Microsoft to do? I have a couple of ideas…


what windows next


Ditch the Tiles on the PC Side

Surface RT and Surface 2 are Microsoft’s tablet products, and honestly, the Live Tile thing works and does an OK job on a tablet, which is much like a phone. Live Tiles have been received very well on Windows Phone, so keeping the same UI on their tablet line makes a world of sense.

Surface Pro and Surface 2 Pro are really ultrabooks, not tablets. They’re really an – uh-hem – ultra version of a slate-based TabletPC. The only real difference there is that they’re much smaller, much thinner and much more portable. I have one. It’s a full blown PC and definitely not a tablet or lean-back device. It’s for serious work. The Start Screen simply does not work well here, even though I can take my hands off the keyboard, away from the touch pad on a Type or Touch Cover or even a mouse and manipulate the device with touch. It just doesn’t work well. It’s why touch-based CRT’s and LCD’s never really caught on in any other setting other than retail.


Merge the Tablet and Phone OS and Software Stores

You know, I really like Mary Jo Foley. She’s got some really good sources over at Microsoft, and some of them are really VERY accurate. According to MJF and her source, by Spring of 2015, Windows RT and Windows Phone will be a single, merged OS. In my mind, that’s a year too long. It needs to happen before June 2014.

I agree that’s a lot to get done in less than 9 months; but its overdue now as it is. Microsoft’s mobile strategy sucks, and has for well over a decade. Ballmer just didn’t get mobile devices OR mobile computing, and as such, they lost the position of power they had back in the 2000-2004 time frame.

Merging Windows Phone and Windows RT is the right thing to do, but they need to make that happen NOW and not later. That will likely mean bringing on a huge amount of contract labor and developing a very aggressive schedule. If they can get the mobile OS standardized and have all of the software for that single platform also exist in a single store, then like iOS and Android, they’ll have a unified platform they can then get behind and push with an aggressive marketing machine.


More Frequent Updates

According to MJF and her source, there should be an update to Windows 8.x before June 2014. However, it’s not known if that’s going to be a formal release or simply a service pack or update of some kind. Microsoft is shooting for the April-May-June time frame to be their formal annual release time, but if that’s the case, then they need to hit this next release window with a formal Windows release and not a service pack. If they want to appear as though they are turning around major releases quickly in the Spring, then they need to do so in 2014. Waiting until 2015 to provide the next major update will make them appear to have reverted back to the service pack model they said they left behind with Windows 7.


Clear, Decisive Action from a New CEO, NOW

I know Microsoft is actively looking for a new CEO; but they need to get someone with a clear vision of where to take them at the helm quickly. Steve may be a great guy, but he blew it with Microsoft’s mobile strategy and that’s where the market is currently headed. They are very weak in this area and need to find a way to demonstrate a clear position of strength and direction quickly, or they may as well forget it.

Frankly, I don’t care who the new CEO is; but they need someone who is product oriented, with a clear mobile vision, and who isn’t afraid to think outside the box. The market isn’t going to wait on them. This isn’t 1990, and they clearly aren’t the only player any longer. Move. Move quickly and hit a home run. Microsoft can’t afford any additional misfires. If they have one, the world – and the mobile market – will move on without them.

I’m working on a Delta Review of Windows 8.1 and will have it ready shortly. Please continue to watch Soft32 for it. In the meantime, why don’t you join us in the discussion below and give us your take on what Microsoft needs to do after Windows 8.1.

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  • georgeou

    I think it’s great that Microsoft is at least trying so hard in mobile, but Microsoft really needs to take care of their day job while they look to new markets. The PC market is shrinking, but they can’t afford to let it go stale and they certainly can’t afford to keep angering their PC customers.

    Once they fix their traditional business by focusing on software quality, then they can expand to tablets.

  • Eric A Davis


  • steve

    Seriously man Windows 8 is the best version MS has put out. Why do you need a start menu??? This is 2013, advanced indexing has been around since XP and has only gotten better since.

    Scenario – Go to MS Word

    Slow Way:
    Click Start
    All Programs

    Start Menu
    Type in WORD
    Press enter

    MUCH FASTER! You don’t go searching through all the programs. THAT IS WHY THE START MENU IS DEAD!!! Microsoft has been coaxing us to use our OS more efficiently since VISTA!!! For the VISTA haters, it’s the same as WIN 7 and for that matter WIN 8. Code has changed a lot, but the GUI is pretty much the same…. You can see the progression from VISTA to 7 to 8 easily. I don’t understand why people hate Vista and 8. It’s always like this… I HATE MS W2k, I love XP, I HATE Vista, I LOOOOOVE W7, I HAATTTTEEE W8…. Etc it’s so stupid, it’s just a circle of incompetent PC users. They want XP for life, I don’t need change… Get over it and move on, the new operating systems are much more advanced and can do so much more. Maybe that’s the problem, the users aren’t SMART enough to use it! That’s usually how it is, * people hate anything they don’t understand.

    • Who are the 9 bobbleheads that liked your comment?

      Completely wrong. Windows 8 has some under-the-hood improvements, but the tangible reduction – yes, REDUCTION – in productivity due to the completely unplanned and unrealistic interface makes Windows 8 actually the *worst* OS Microsoft has ever crapped out. “Setting up a few more things”… how much dumber is Microsoft going to make an OS?

      No, getting around is not easier than Windows Vista or 7 – in fact, it’s a step back from both. You now have to actually switch between the 3 different search categories, while in Vista and 7 they were combined (7 searched all three categories instantly, providing the most relevant result at the top ready to be “entered”). Try to get to Disk Management using the search “parti”. 7 does it instantly. 8 takes extra keystrokes.

      8 no longer filters out the commonly used programs automatically on the massive, context- and train-of-thought-destroying “start page”, making you search for each program you want to run. With 7, most programs were two clicks away – not “all programs” and “scroll” (unless you’re a complete idiot, and disabled that function). Two clicks: “Start”, and click your program, which automatically gets put in that little list if you use it once or twice.

      Advanced indexing also has NOT been around since XP. Windows Search is a horribly written, clumsy system hog that sits on top of the OS if you make the mistake of installing it under Windows Update’s optional downloads. It also doesn’t add its capabilities to the Start menu, doesn’t index useful things like program shortcuts and control panel items, and blames you for making its indexing go slower if you happen to be trying to USE your computer while it runs (it actually says, “indexing speed reduced due to user activity”, as if you’re inconveniencing the goddamn search service that serves you no purpose). Vista saw the first honest attempt at making search useful, and 7 had it almost completely perfected (but still leaving something to be desired).

      With such knowledge of the low-level technical workings of all the Windows versions ever since Microsoft started losing its mind (and market), I can’t help but wonder if I should try poking my head up as a CEO candidate. Lord knows I couldn’t do a worse job than Ballmer.

  • Jonathaya

    The only thing ihate about windows 8 is that The Metro is not Unified with the Desktop. Once they make them one, in one way or another, i think windows will trully have more potencial in terms of access and speed.

  • Brian Stump

    Alright, Steve, do you not know something? Windows 8 is the “WORST” OS ever.

    This is a step back from Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and maybe even 2000. Nobody hates Windows 2000, what i heard, usually it’s millennium. And if i had to choose between the worst OS in the world and te one next to vista, WIndows Longhorn, i would pick longhorn over 8. Seriously, 8 is that bad.

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