Microsoft Windows 9 codenamed “Threshold”, set to be announced in April and released in 2015

Microsoft is planning to announce Windows 9 at a developer conference in April, with a release expected in April 2015, according to reports.

Citing sources within the company, tech analyst and blogger Paul Thurrott says the announcement of the next major version of Windows, internally codenamed “Threshold”, is set to be announced at the BUILD 2014 developers’ conference.

Alongside the announcement, the company is also aiming to release a major service pack upgrade to Windows 8.1 known internally as GDR1, with the conference otherwise focusing on Windows Phone and Xbox.

“Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment,” Thurrott says.

“That’s a disaster, and Threshold needs to strike a better balance between meeting the needs of over a billion traditional PC users while enticing users to adopt this new Windows on new types of personal computing devices. In short, it needs to be everything that Windows 8 is not.”

Key features of Threshold are believed to include the reintroduction of a traditional Start Menu, the ability to run metro-style apps on the desktop alongside regular desktop apps and “fixing” the Metro design language.

Interestingly, while the company is set to announce the new operating system in April, development is not scheduled to begin until one month later.

The news comes just days after market research firm Gartner showed the global PC market contracted to 315.9 million units in 2013, down 10% from 351 million units in 2012, with the industry suffering seven consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Falls in shipment volume were felt across the PC sector, with declines at HP (9.3%), Dell (2.2%), Acer (28.1%) and Asus (17.7%), with only Lenovo experiencing a slight 2.1% increase.

Overseeing the new operating system is set to be one of the first duties of the company’s incoming CEO, with the tech giant expecting to nominate a successor to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer in late January or early February.

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