It looks like Microsoft's next major operating system release could launch soon and include the much-missed Start menu. Kind of.
According to ZDNet, Windows 9, also known as Windows Threshold, will reportedly somewhat abandon the colourful tile layout of Windows 8 in favour of the traditional Start menu. Specifically, the company is working on a feature called Mini Start menu. It not only works similar to the old Windows Start menu but can also display some of the tiles or Metro-style apps that debuted with Windows 8 in 2012.
Apart from the Mini Start menu, Windows 9 will be customised for different types of hardware devices. Mobile devices will have an app tile layout by default for optimum touch input, while desktop and laptop users will have the traditional Windows layout by default - with the added Mini Start menu. As for hybrid devices like the Surface Pro, it will boot to a desktop layout by default if a keyboard is attached. Otherwise, it will boot to app tiles for touch input.
In other words, Windows Threshold will look and work differently based on hardware type. The overall goal however is to win back Microsoft fans who didn't like the usability mistakes of Windows 8. Although Microsoft is still developing Windows 8 and will even release a final software update sometime this year, the company is expected to deliver a public preview of Threshold in autumn 2014.
And finally, it's been widely reported that Microsoft wants to abandon the Windows 8 brand - simply because the operating system wasn't well-received by critics and users alike. The company is allegedly planning to name its next major OS release Windows 9, though the software is currently going by the codename Threshold. Eagle-eye observers will note that Threshold is also a planet name from Microsoft's Halo video game series.
A concept of the Mini Start menu is above, from WinSuperSite.