It's a secret to no one that Windows 8 isn't the winner that Microsoft planned it to be, with its uptick being worse than Vista's - something a lot of us didn't even realize would be possible. With Windows 9, or whatever it'll be called upon release, Microsoft has to produce a successful release in order to make those who refused to migrate to Windows 8 to warm back up to the company. How could it do that? By offering Windows 9 to XP, Vista, and 7 users for free - or at least at attractive pricing.
That's at least something that's been told to Mary Jo Foley by her one of many Microsoft insider sources. "Microsoft officials are still not talking publicly about Threshold/Windows 9. There are rumors Microsoft is planning to offer Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users some kind of deal - possibly even a free upgrade to Windows 9 — in order to get them to move to the latest Windows version once it's out next year."
This does raise an issue, though: What about the loyal customers who purchased Windows 8? It'd seem a little unfair to get them to pay more than those who skipped over one or more generations. As many software vendors typically provide better discounts to those with the most recent version, or at least the same discount to everyone, Microsoft could land itself in a bit of hot water here.
Mary Jo also notes that "Update 2" for Windows 8 is slated for a release next Tuesday, and while it was originally supposed to be a substantial update, it seems Microsoft has scaled things back. An "Update 3" has been rumored for some time, but that also seems to be scaled back, to the point of potential nonexistence. Why? To save all of the good features for Windows 9, of course. Microsoft wants nothing more than to make Windows 9 an overwhelming success, so business wise, this move makes sense.
Regardless of what happens, I can't help but get a little excited at the thought of what Windows 9 could become. I've been using Windows 8 since launch, and outside of the Start Screen, I do consider it to be the best Windows yet. But with Microsoft so keen on doing Windows 9 right, things could get interesting.