Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is widely expected to launch its Windows 9 ‘Threshold’ next year. Beta version of the new OS will likely be released by the end of this year. At the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) last month, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told attendees that the next OS will have “game-changing functionality” for the enterprise users. That means Windows 9 will have several features not present in Windows 8, which almost everyone in the enterprise sector hated.

windows 9

Here is an overview of features that Windows 8 lacked, but Windows 9 will include to re-establish Microsoft’s leading position in the operating system market.

A full-fledged and revamped Start menu

Microsoft will undoubtedly bring back the Start menu with Windows 9. But it will be slightly modified. The new Start menu will provide users quick access to recent apps. Microsoft will also group Metro apps such as Skype and Weather into the Start menu.

Windows 9 to get interactive taskbar

Reports suggest that the taskbar will get a major overhaul with Windows 9. Come the next Windows OS and the taskbar will no longer be a static location for icons. It will be much more. Sources told Neowin that the taskbar icons will be interactive, acting as “mini Live Tiles.” Productivity a user experience is the top priority for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and the interactive taskbar is aimed at improving productivity.

Unified OS

Windows Phone may not be wildly popular in the consumer market, but business users like it. It integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office, and is more secure than Android. But it has largely been disconnected from the desktop Windows. According to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, Microsoft will unify its mobile and Windows devices. There will be a single app store for PC, smartphone and tablet apps.

Cortana

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri on iOS and Google Now on Android. The software giant introduced the virtual assistant with Windows Phone 8.1. Cortana is tipped to be making its way to the desktop with Windows 9. It will appear on your taskbar, so you can activate it quickly with a click. Cortana will help you perform a wide variety of functions using voice commands.

Virtual desktops

Sources familiar with the development told Neowin last week that Microsoft is working on the virtual desktops feature for Windows 9. The Verge later confirmed the report. Ubuntu and Mac OS X already offer virtual desktops. This feature improves productivity, and enterprise users love it. It allows you to have multiple versions of the same desktop on the screen, giving you different setups on each. You can have dedicate one to web browsing, another to gaming, yet another to work, etc.

Good-bye charms bar

Charms bar in Windows 8 really annoyed desktop users as it required an awkward mouse gesture. It’s the pop-out right-hand side bar in Windows 8 and 8.1 Charms bar contains options such as share, settings, search, and shutdown. WinBeta reported last week that it’s time to say good-bye to the charms bar. The feature won’t make its way to Windows 9.

Most importantly, reports suggest that Windows 9 could be free for existing Windows users. What could be better than that?