The fat lady has finally sung for Windows 8. With a list of non-features slated to be rolled out next week in what was once called Windows 8.1 Update 2, Microsoft has made clear it's given up on improving the struggling operating system, and instead focusing on Windows 9.
Microsoft had originally planned to have Windows 8.1 Update 2 be a serious update to improve Windows 8.1 with the addition of a new Start menu, the one that Microsoft had showed off at its Build 2014 developer conference back in April, Mary Jo Foley reports.
But that was then. This is now: The long-awaited Windows 8.1 Update 2 that will go live next week won't include a Start menu. The features that it will deliver are so minor, you won't even notice them. In fact, Microsoft is backing away from even calling it Windows 8.1 Update 2, and says it's not much more than a normal monthly update.
Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc writes in a Microsoft blog that:
"Despite rumors and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 'Update 2.'"
That's not just for August. That means Microsoft will never release one.
So what will Microsoft deliver next week? According to LeBlanc there will be some improvements to the way touchpads work, fewer Sharepoint log-in prompts, and APIs for making Miracast Receive work (Miracast is a tool for projecting to a wireless display.). And that's it.
As for the long-awaited Start menu, that's apparently been put on hold until the next release of Windows, currently code-named Threshold but which might eventually be called Windows 9, likely due in the Spring of 2015.
It's clear from all this that Microsoft has given up on Windows 8. And that's the right thing to do. Windows 8's uptake is even slower than the bomb that was Vista. Net Applications figures show that Windows 8 actually lost user share in July. This is an operating system that continues to go nowhere fast.
Microsoft is doing the right thing. There's simply no way to salvage Windows 8, and Microsoft should be devoting all of its resources instead to making the next version of Windows much better. Leaked Windows 9 screenshots show an operating system that PC users can love, including a Start menu, Metro apps running in resizable windows on the desktop, and more. If you care about Windows, that's what you should be waiting for, not any improvements to Windows 8, because you won't see any serious ones.