Rarely can a major software release have bombed quite so spectacularly as in the case of Windows 8. Released to the usual fanfare from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), the beleaguered operating system has since received a critical and commercial panning, forcing Microsoft to engage in some pretty swift damage limitation.

Windows 9

Firstly, the world’s biggest producer of computer software was forced to rush out an 8.1 update of its Windows 8 program. This was pretty much essential for Microsoft, due to the multitude of complaints that the operating system received from clients. But while Microsoft has kept pretty quiet about permanently placing the doomed Windows 8, it is an open secret that a new version of Windows, certain to be dubbed Windows 9, will be launched in the near future.

Windows 9 to be rushed out

In accordance with this rumor, it has emerged in the last 24 hours that Microsoft could even be ready to launch this Windows 8 replacement by the end of the year. Such is the corporation’s determination to rekindle its relationship with consumers, it has already been reported that Microsoft will offer existing Windows 8.1 owners a free update to its latest operating system.

One of the primary reasons that the previous version of Windows was panned was Microsoft’s rather bizarre insistence that Windows should dispense with the Start Menu. This incited a barrage criticism, and eventually resulted in the company backtracking and recognizing that it’d made a serious error in omitting such a fundamental feature of the Windows operating system.

It’s not surprising then that the early indications regarding Windows 9 point to Microsoft ensuring that it is highly desktop oriented. The tiled Metro-style interface included in Windows 8 was little short of a total disaster, and although Microsoft was evidently attempting to alter its users’ tastes by making a radical change to Windows, it now seems ready to dispense with this costly experiment.

According to ZDNet, the new version of Windows is codenamed ‘Threshold’, and that we can expect to see it emerge well before Christmas this year. It is thought that Threshold will see the Start Menu restored, a decision which had been mooted to be part of an update to Windows 8 released in the next few weeks. It seems now that Microsoft will delay this, and use its restoration as a promotional element of Windows 9.

A trying 2014 for Microsoft

Microsoft’s share price has actually made steady, if unspectacular, gains over the last year…

microsoft

…despite the fact that the year can be considered, at best, a period of transition for the software powerhouse. Aside from the disastrous reception afforded Windows 8, Microsoft is still adjusting to a world in which its operating systems are not necessarily de rigueur for tablet and smartphone users, and which the cloud is necessitating a change in tack. Its Xbox One games console has sold reasonably well, but Sony is romping ahead with the PlayStation 4, and unquestionably Microsoft has lost a lot of good will and market share thanks to its extremely dubious marketing of what it dubbed a unique media and games platform.

Thus, the release of Windows 9 will be critical, and the fact that Microsoft has apparently earmarked it for 2014 makes this completely clear. Although 90 percent of desktop computers still use Windows, maintaining this dominance in a shifting computing climate will be a massive challenge for Microsoft.