Microsoft's next major Windows release is "Threshold" and according to the latest rumors this update will hit the market around Spring 2015. One of the main goals of this new release, which may or may not be called Windows 9, will be to bring Windows 7 users back to the fold. Threshold will reportedly have lots of new features specifically aimed at desktops users and will reportedly have a different look based on your hardware type.
Desktop and laptops users will reportedly get an SKU that puts the Windows Desktop front and center, while two-in-one devices like the Lenovo Yoga and Surface Pro will support switching between Metro and Windowed mode based on whether or not keyboards are connected.
The combined phone/tablet version of Threshold will reportedly lack a desktop environment but will support running apps side by side. The first public preview of Threshold is expected to be released in Fall 2014.
ZD Net's Mary Jo Foley also claims that Windows 8.1 Update 2 will be the final update for the Windows 8.x operating system. This update will not include the new Start menu so besides some UI tweaks it will not contain anything hugely noticeable.
The Desktop/laptop SKU of Threshold will include, as previously rumored, the Mini-Start menu — a new version of the traditional Microsoft Start menu, an early concept of which Microsoft showed off at the company's Build developers conference in April. It also will include the ability to run Metro-Style/Windows Store apps in windows on the Desktop. Will it turn off completely the Metro-Style Start screen with its live-tile interface, as Neowin is reporting, and make the tiled Start Menu a toggleable option from the Mini Start menu? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised.