Microsoft Should (And Reportedly Will) Make Windows 9 Free For Windows 8 Users

At the risk of getting people's hopes up, the web is quickly filling with reports that Microsoft is planning to offer Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) as a free upgrade for Windows 8 users. The original source of the rumor comes from an Indonesian-language website quoting Andreas Diantor, President of Microsoft Indonesia, as saying that Windows 8 device owners will receive the new operating system as a free update.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Whether or not it's true remains to be seen -- several sites have used the word "confirmed" when referencing the foreign report, and while we're keeping out fingers crossed, we think it's better to remain cautiously optimistic than to consider this a done deal.

Windows Market Share
Source: Net Applications

Either way, this is something Microsoft should do. It's been nearly two years since Windows 8 was released to the public, yet Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined hold just a 13.37 percent share of the desktop OS market, according to data provided by Net Applications. Meanwhile, Windows XP is holding stubborn at 23.89 percent even though it was recently euthanized, and Windows 7 is still found on over half of all PCs (51.21 percent).

The numbers alone are only part of the story. What they reveal is Microsoft's failure to penetrate the market with Windows 8 in any meaningful way, which means that its customers don't share the company's same vision, at least not yet. Windows 8 certainly has some positive things going for it, but because Microsoft put so much time and energy into its Modern UI experience, it alienated power users who wanted a familiar interface with conveniences like a Start menu.

Windows 9 Screenshot
Image Source:

Windows 9 represents a second chance for Microsoft to get Windows 8 right. From the various leaks we've seen, Windows 9 looks promising -- the Start menu is supposedly coming back, windowed Modern UI apps are coming to the Desktop, it will support virtual desktops, there will be a notifications center, and even Cortana may be part of the experience.

If Windows 9 lives up to the hype, making it free for Windows 8 users would increase the chances that they'd give Microsoft another shot rather than jump ship to Linux, Mac OS, or even Chrome OS, the latter of which is growing in popularity.

In any event, we'll find out soon enough. Microsoft is holding a press event tomorrow to unveil Windows 9 and talk about its features.