Windows “Threshold” (9) Press Conference Today – And I’m Concerned

Today in San Francisco, Microsoft is doing their first official unveiling of Windows codename Threshold, otherwise known as Windows 9 or Windows vNext.

Supposedly, this event was to be the enterprise unveiling. Enterprise customers are an important market for Microsoft; that’s because business decision makers have opted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, and not Windows 8/8.1, effectively choosing to make Windows 7 the next XP – a legacy OS that will exit mainstream support next year. Microsoft supposedly wants enterprises to try Windows Threshold early, and submit feedback, so that, supposedly, Microsoft will engineer the product based on feedback.

I used a lot of “supposedly’s” there, didn’t I? If I wanted to get enterprise customers interested then I would stream the unveiling live on the Internet, and not have a private press event where most of the invitees haven’t the foggiest about what enterprise customers want. It just does not make sense to me.

I wonder what value the event really has. It’s not a launch – that will likely be TechEd Europe on October 28th. The preview is not out until October. Don’t expect to hear a whisper of Windows Server or System Center for another month and a half. And come tonight, I doubt we’ll hear about anything in the Windows client OS that we do not already know – a lot of the GUI features were leaked months ago. I wonder if this event is actually Microsoft’s attempt to take control of the messaging.

There are two remaining questions:

  • Will this be a free upgrade? Enterprise customers usually have software assurance so that’s irrelevant to them. That’s more of a question for SMEs and consumers. Today is allegedly all about enterprises so I doubt we’ll hear anything.
  • What will they call it? Anything other than Windows 9 is a failure. It is rumoured that Windows Threshold will be the start of a more rapid release program, like you get with mobile devices. For enterprises: that would be hellish. Nice for consumers. It is also rumoured that Microsoft will simply call it “Windows”. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! How is an enterprise to support something that changes frequently and has no obvious version number?

I really hope a lot of these rumours are wrong. Otherwise we’ll be contemplating Windows burning while Nadella plays his “cloud first, mobile first” fiddle.

We’ll be watching the tweets of Mary Jo Foley & Paul Thurrott, and the live blog on the Verge to find out what’s been discussed in San Francisco later this afternoon.

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