When Microsoft released Windows 8 in 2012 it quickly became clear that the operating system was not performing as well as Microsoft hoped it would.
Windows 8 was not a new Windows 7 sales-wise and the operating system gained usage share slowly as a consequence.
One of the core reasons for this was Microsoft's decision to make the touch-optimized interface standard on all devices. The company added the Start Screen interface -- known as Metro back then -- which meant that users had to switch between the two interfaces regularly.
There was no start menu at all, and touch-centric features such as the Charms Bar were used to replace functionality that the company removed from the system.
It became clear quickly that desktop users were not too happy with it. While most users had to use the system anyway, many desktop users found ways to circumvent its usability issues.
Companies like Stardock created programs to bring back the Start Menu to the operating system and millions of users downloaded these programs to improve the usability of Windows 8.
Restructuring happened after the release of Windows 8 and Microsoft changed its course slowly. First sign of that was the release of Windows 8.1 which made things a bit better for desktop users. While still not optimal in many regards, it demonstrated that change in strategy.
As it stands right now, the company seems more or less done with Windows 8 and concentrates most efforts on the next version of Windows -- Windows 9, Windows Threshold -- instead.
It is clear that Microsoft cannot afford to release another operating system that does not perform well as it would surely affect the company's dominant position in the client operating system market.
We do know that Microsoft will bring back a full start menu, and while it won't look identical to the one in Windows 7, it will offer the same functionality as it.
The core difference here is that it will also list apps and maybe even make use of the Live Tiles functionality to display information right in the menu.
It is not clear how customizable the menu will be, but it is likely that you can add or remove entries here to customize it to your liking.
Recent rumors suggest that Microsoft may kill the Charms Bar for desktop users in Windows 9. The Charms Bar displays on the screen when you move the mouse cursor to the lower or upper right corner of the screen, or when you press the shortcut Windows-C.
It works great on touch devices as you can use your thumb to control it, but on a desktop, it is abysmal to use. It is slow, the position of it is not optimal, and the structure that is used forces you to click multiple times before you reach the link you want to click on in first place.
Most desktop users are probably not making use of the Charms Bar at all, and those who do, may use it predominantly in apps to control preferences of these apps.
While removing the Charms Bar completely is one option that Microsoft is testing currently, it could also decide to move the menu to another location to make it more accessible on the desktop.
The reason why this may be the better option is that apps and games make use of the interface for their preferences. These preferences need to be displayed elsewhere when the Charms Bar is removed.
Another rumor suggests that Microsoft may introduce virtual desktops to Windows 9 natively. The concept is not entirely new, as Microsoft shipped such an option with its PowerToys tools collection for Windows XP.
The company did not integrate virtual desktops natively into the operating system though, and most users may have come in contact with them either through Linux systems or by installing third-party software such as VirtualWin.
Virtual desktops create additional desktops that programs can be run in. The core benefit of this approach is that you can separate windows from each other without having access to multiple screens.
You could run communication tools on one desktop, a development environment on the second, and entertainment on the third.
Microsoft has not announced a release date yet for Windows 9. Most experts suggest that it will be released in 2015, in April at the earliest and October at the latest. If Windows 9 would be released in October 2015, Microsoft would keep its one new system every three years schedule for Windows client systems as Windows 7 was released October 2009 and Windows 8 October 2012.
While it is too early to tell if Microsoft will get it right this time, it looks as if the company is dedicated to improving the operating system for desktop users even if it means removing functionality that launched with Windows 8.
If you ask me, I'm more than happy with a modernized version of Windows 7 that introduces improved security features and support for new technologies.
What about you? What do you expect from Windows 9?