Update: Windows 9 is dead. Long live Windows 10! Microsoft fooled everyone by skipping to Windows 10. There’s a preview build available already and stay tuned for our initial observations. So far all we can say is that we’re happy to have the Start Menu back.
As a server monitoring software company, at Frameflow we are always interested in the latest developments that directly affect our industry and our offering. Microsoft has scheduled a press event for September 30th and it’s almost certain that they will use it to reveal details about their next major update to Windows.
Microsoft Likely to Stick with Windows 9 for Server Edition
It hasn’t been confirmed yet but most IT web sites are suggesting that Microsoft will not only stick with its latest numbering scheme for Windows desktops releases, but bring the same versioning for server releases too. If true, that means we can expect Windows 9 Server instead of something like Windows Server 2015. This is consistent with Microsoft’s goal to position Windows as an ecosystem where you’ll find Windows on your desktop, on servers, on your phone and in the cloud and it’s all just “Windows” as opposed to distinct products for each platform.
Windows 9 Expectations
We know a tiny bit about what Microsoft has in mind for Windows 9. A Microsoft executive in France recently let it slip that Windows 9 will include features “geared toward technical and enterprise customers.” Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, has been consistently pushing a “mobile first, cloud first” strategy so it’s reasonable to expect that we’re going to see improvements in these areas as well. On the “mobile first” side of things, it would be great to see something like Apple’s hand-off ability where you can switch devices mid-stream and keep working. On the “cloud first” side of things, even more integration of Windows 9 Server with Azure cloud-based services would be a huge benefit.
Back to the Start Menu
We also know that Windows 9 will bring back the Start Menu. In several demos Microsoft has showed off a new design for it that includes both the traditional Start Menu structure, that we’ve known since Windows 95, combined with some elements of the new Metro interface. We don’t have much to go on but what we’ve seen so far looks like a step in the right direction.
64-Bit Version Only?
We’re seeing a number of indications that Windows 9 may only be available in a 64-bit version. This is probably good news on desktops since it’s been ages since all systems have been fully 64-bit. We liked the smaller memory footprint of 32-bit server editions, especially when it was necessary to pack a lot of VMs into a Hyper-V or VMware host, but we’ve known for a long time that we’ll eventually need to move to 64-bit systems across the board and it certainly feels like now is the time to make the move.
Lastly, most media outlets are confirming that Windows 9 will be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users. We can see how this is probably true for desktop editions, but we would be surprised if the server version is a free upgrade for Windows Server 2012; we can only hope that it is.
Don’t Hold Your Breathe for General Availability of Windows 9 Tomorrow
So exactly what can we expect on September 30th? It almost certainly will not be the general availability of Windows 9. Microsoft takes its time getting to a general release usually starting with Community Technical Previews (CTPs), followed by beta releases, followed by release candidates and then finally a general availability release. We’re predicting that Microsoft will release a CTP of Windows 9 and maybe Windows 9 Server. CTPs are generally aimed at developers, but Microsoft has increasingly made them more widely available. And if your organization has an MSDN account, you will likely see it available for download there.
Server Management Tip: Load Windows 9 CTP on a VM
In the past we’ve tried the CTPs for several older versions of Windows and we’ve found that they are great for getting an earlier look at what is coming down the pipe from Microsoft. You might be tempted to upgrade your main machine to the CTP, but take our word and load it in on a VM instead. CTPs can be rough around the edges, with significant bugs, and there’s not always an easy upgrade path to the general release.