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Windows 9 Will Arrive Roughly On Time

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Windows 9The tech world is buzzing with the possibility that Microsoft Corp. is rushing the next generation of its Windows operating system to market to correct mistakes made in Windows 8 and rekindle the flagging PC market.

Threshold, the code name for what was supposed to be an update to Windows 8, could be unveiled at the Microsoft Build Conference in April. Reports indicate Microsoft will instead just brand this update Windows 9 and release the full version in April 2015.

If this is the true timetable, the Windows 9 will hardly be a rush. In fact, based on the history of the Windows franchise, Windows 9 will actually arrive late; several previous versions came to market at much faster paces.

Windows 8 was supposed to be the answer to Microsoft’s tablet and mobility problem. The company, which dominated the desktop and notebook PC market, sat on the sidelines as Apple Inc. and Google Inc. pioneered and solidified the smartphone and tablet market with their respective iOS and Android operating systems. The Modern (formerly Metro) interface was supposed to replace the desktop and provide users with a touch-based experience that retained the best elements of Windows.

Things haven’t quite worked out. Microsoft claims Windows 8 sales are pacing well since its October 2012 release, but recent market reports indicate only 25 million PCs are running Windows 8.1 — the update that corrected many problems in the initial release.  And while Windows tablet sales are climbing, the combined market share of Windows 8 and 8.1 is one-third of Windows XP and one-fifth of Windows 7, according to NetMarketShare. In fact, Windows 8.1’s market share is roughly the same as the much maligned Windows Vista.

2013 Desktop Operating System Market Share

Windows 7 47.52%
Windows XP 28.98%
Windows 8 6.89%
Windows Vista 3.61%
Windows 8.1 3.60%
Mac OS X 10.9 2.79%
Linux 1.73%
Mac OS X 10.8 1.66%
Mac OS X 10.6 1.47%
Mac OS X 10.7 1.23%
Mac OS X 10.5 0.29%
Windows NT 0.09%
Mac OS X 10.4 0.08%
Windows 2000 0.03%

 

Analysts are beginning to call Windows 8 a disaster on the scale of Vista. Microsoft, they say, overreached by trying to eliminate many of the features legacy users desired in their PC operating system and trying to change the tablet experience.

Microsoft would certainly dispute such assertions, believing its strategy for a single computing experience — from PCs to tablets to smartphones — is the right way to go. Even if Microsoft accepted the Windows 8 failure assessment, it’s showing no signs of panic, as evident in the Windows release cycles.

Windows Release Cycles

Windows Release Cycle

Version Release Date Days Between Releases Change in Release Intervals (Days)
Windows 1.0 November 20, 1985
Windows 2.0 December 9, 1987
750
Windows 3.0 May 22, 1990
896
146
Windows NT July 27, 1993
1163
267
Windows 95 August 24, 1995
759
-404
Windows 98 June 25, 1998
1037
278
Windows 2000 February 2000
587
-450
Windows ME December 31, 2000
335
-252
Windows XP August 25, 2001
238
-97
Windows Vista November 8, 2006
1902
1664
Windows 7 October 22, 2009
1080
-822
Windows 8 October 26, 2012
1100
20
Windows 9 *April 2015
*1146
46

* Assumes April 1, 2015, release date; no official release date has been announced.

If time is the measure of urgency, Microsoft raced Windows 7 to market to rescue the franchise from the plunge of Windows Vista. Windows 8 and Windows 9, based on this history, will come right on time in the modern Windows era.

So is it OK to criticize Microsoft for the mistakes made in Windows 8? Yes. Is it OK to scoff at Windows 8 market share numbers? Sure. But Windows 9 looks more like plan than panic.

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