There’s been a Microsoft leak, but not the kind that leaves users open to identity theft. Rather, leaked Windows 9 screenshots are circulating on the Internet and, if they are bona fide, offer a glimpse into what the future of desktop computing may look like for Windows users.
ComputerBase and WinFuture, two German technology sites, got their hands on 20 images that claim to depict the “Windows Technical Preview.” Technically speaking, “technical preview” means Microsoft is allowing a group of people to see the product and use the software in a beta-like trial.
So what’s new in Windows 9? Well, for starters, it offers a Windows logo for any app running on the desktop instead of a “File” button. Screenshots of the new operating system also show a notifications panel that displays reminders until you’ve either marked them off your list or decided to ignore the prompts.
Blending Old and New
With all the clamor about the missing start button in Windows 8, the screenshots show its clear return on Windows 9. Other images show a virtual desktops function that lets you set up spaces you can store with apps running inside them.
We caught up with Rob Enderle, a principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his thoughts on the leaked Windows 9 screenshots. Based on the images he saw, he told us Microsoft appears to be blending the best of the new and old worlds.
“The change should be far more palatable to users of the new interface and it is supposed to optimize better for [changing] modes. For instance, now in Windows 8.1, you change modes based on the app you are using, with Windows 9 it appears you change modes based on the way you are using the PC, one mode for touch and tablet and another mode for traditional PC use,” Enderle said.
“Much like Windows XP was successful because it fixed big issues with Windows 2000 and Windows 7 was successful because it fixed issues with Vista, Windows 9 appears to address what was most annoying with Windows 8,” he added.
All in all, it does seem like Windows 9 corrects a lot of the complaints about Windows 8 -- and then some. When it debuted last year, Windows 8 was called the boldest release of the OS since Windows 95. It was certainly the most tablet-friendly. But it may have been too tablet-friendly.
Windows 8's interface was too much of a departure for some employees to embrace. Additionally, there was some question about whether Windows 8 offered enough new value to justify migration investments.
It seems Windows 8 started out of the gate with disadvantages. Windows 8.1 sought to remedy some of the perceived problems. In a nutshell -- and at the heart of the changes -- the Start button was returned to the user interface on the lower-left corner of the screen. When you left-click that icon it pulls up the Start screen, though, rather than the pop-menu Windows used in previous versions. A right-click calls up a menu including the Task Manager, Control Panel, search and other tools.
But Windows 8.1 still wasn’t enough for some users. Will Windows 9 do the trick?