New Windows coming in late September -- but which one?

Nobody seems to know whether 'Threshold' and 'Windows 9' will be one and the same or separate operating systems

It looks like we're due for a preview of Windows sometime in late September. As InfoWorld's Eric Knorr noted last week, something new is brewing with Windows in Redmond, and it looks like we'll have a chance to see it in four to six weeks. At this point, though, there's very little consensus about what will appear.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley kicked off the speculation a week ago with her usual well-connected, anonymous, likely coordinated report from unnamed sources:

Microsoft is aiming to deliver a "technology preview" of its Windows "Threshold" operating system by late September or early October, according to multiple sources of mine who asked not to be named. ... "Threshold" is the next major version of Windows that is expected to be christened "Windows 9" when it is made available in the spring of 2015. "Threshold" is expected to include a number of new features that are aimed at continuing to improve Windows' usability on nontouch devices and by those using mice and keyboards alongside touch.

Tom Warren at The Verge pegs the announcement date as Sept. 30. Paul Thurrott hasn't yet chimed in, as he usually does, but he's been on vacation and is due back today.

Foley is very careful to maintain a semantic distance between "Threshold" and "Windows 9." Many people think the terms are synonymous, but longtime Chinese leaker Faikee continues to maintain that they are two separate products, possibly headed in different directions.

Neowin Senior Editor and Columnist Brad Sams appears to have access to the most recent test builds, possibly on a daily basis. He doesn't talk about details, but the items he's let drop on the Neowin forum leave an interesting trail of crumbs:

  • Sams confirms, independently, that a preview will be available "soon."
  • "Every week they are adding new features (roughly) like virtual desktops, Charms bar moving away, Cortana. ... It still looks a lot like what they showed off at Build but with more features."
  • The current build series is numbered 982X.
  • The watermark on the splash screens have been updated in recent builds to say "Windows Technical Preview." Several posters have noted that the first betas of Windows 8 carried the watermark "Windows Developer Preview," with no mention of "8" -- whether there's a "9" in the Technical Preview's future is anybody's guess.

In my opinion, Microsoft would be crazy to continue the "Windows 8" name -- Win8 deserves to be buried as quickly as possible. Whether the next version will be "Windows 9" or "Windows Gefiltefish" doesn't matter much at this point.

Which brings us to Faikee's continued insistence that "Threshold" and "Windows 9" are completely different products. Sams states, "I now know why FaiKee thinks that 'Threshold' and Windows 9 are two separate things -- not saying that I agree, but I know where it is coming from. ... It has to do with the design updates to the OS. If you were to put two builds right next to each either, they look totally different." Sams has promised to blog about the differences on Neowin. This is starting to get interesting.

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