Microsoft will allow users of its Windows 8 operating system to upgrade to the forthcoming Windows 9 free of charge, according to a published report. There could also be deals for those still running Windows XP.
Microsoft Indonesia President Andreas Diantoro revealed the free upgrade path from Windows 8 to Windows 9 while speaking to reporters in Jakarta, according to Indonesian tech site Detik.com.
Microsoft may reveal details of Windows 9 as soon as Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. Early reports indicate it will differ significantly from Windows 8, with many of the changes aimed at making the OS easier to navigate and less confusing.
A video recently posted by German tech site WinFuture shows Windows 9 bringing back the Start menu, a popular feature that Microsoft removed from Windows 8 in favor of its Modern UI touch-centric interface.
Many users complained that Modern UI, first introduced by Microsoft as the Metro interface, is too difficult to use on non-touch PCs that require navigation through a mouse and keyboard. Windows 9, according to the video, also lets users boot straight to the classic Windows desktop, bypassing Modern UI if they wish. Microsoft has not confirmed the video’s authenticity.
The operating system also lets users create and run multiple, virtual desktops. It’s a feature that has been available for some time on Apple’s Mac OS X and Linux machines.
The video further reveals that Microsoft will add its Cortana personal assistant to Windows 9. Currently available only on Windows Phone, Cortana is similar in function to Apple’s Siri service. Cortana can help users with a range of tasks, from finding a theater to driving directions.
Threshold, according to reports, will also contain features that automatically turn on or off depending on the host device. For example, a phone version would not provide access to Microsoft’s traditional desktop, while a SKU meant for PC users would bypass Metro and boot straight to the desktop.
Windows 7 is Microsoft’s most widely used PC OS, with a market share of 51.2 percent, according to NetMarketShare. Windows XP’s share checks in at 24.8 percent, while Windows 8/8.1 has a share of 12.5 percent.