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Windows 9 is still a ways off, hasn't begun wide internal testing yet

A new report by Neowin cites sources within Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) as stating that employees have begun widespread internal testing -- so-called "dogfooding" -- of two new versions of Windows.  Dogfooding generally implies tests where employees not only test a product in limited groups or controlled settings, but distribute it to thousands of employees who use it for their day to day activities.  An example of this was Ford Motor Comp.'s (F) internal betas of its updates to MyFord Touch.

I. Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1

At Microsoft, employees (who often have company-provided Windows Phones) have begun to receive Windows Phone 8.1 GDR 1, according to the report.  GDR 1 stands for "General Distribution 1".  The current version of Windows Phone -- Windows Phone 8.1 -- is in the process of slowly being rolled out to Windows Phone 8 users via updates.

Windows 8.1 -- Microsoft's latest desktop OS -- has seen three such internal "GDR" builds, which transformed into "Update" builds upon release.  For example, the previous distribution -- Windows Phone 8 Update 3 -- was tested internally as Windows Phone 8 GDR 3.  Likewise Windows 8.1 Update 1 was tested as Windows 8.1 GDR 1.  So it's safe to expect that Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1, barring surprises, will be renamed Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1.

Windows Phone 8.1 Blue

The report does not give a time window for that update's release, but other reports and our own sources indicate it may be sometime in the July or August timeframe, with a second update (Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2) in October or November.

Previous reports indicate hands-free proximity controls will be a key feature of Update 1.

The new report suggests that the PC version of Windows -- which is being referred to internally as Windows 8.1 GDR 2 or Windows 8.2 -- is currently in widespread testing.  The update is expected to roll out to large enterprise clients and other select public testers via a July RTM (release to manufacturing) build.  The upcoming OS will see "a likely release in August or September", according to the report.

II. Windows 9 and Why the Next Release Will Likely be Called "Windows 8.1 Update 2", NOT "Windows 8.2"

It's probable that Microsoft will stick to the Windows 8.1 Update 2 title (rather than Windows 8.2) based on what we've heard thus far.  Key features, such as the revised start menu have been shuffled to Windows 9, which some sources indicate could be released next April.  Given the lack of marquee content (compared to Windows 8.1's more serious UI and settings changes), it seems unlikely that Microsoft would bump the version number to Windows 8.2.

Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 Update 1

Why is this likely?  Look at the naming history.  Its major versions of Windows have been:
  • Windows 1.0: Nov. 1985
  • Windows 2.0: Dec. 1987 (two years later)
  • Windows 2.1: May 1988 (six months later)
  • Windows 3.0: May 1990 (two years later)
  • Windows 3.1: April 1992 (two years later)
  • Windows 95: Aug. 1995 (two and a half years later)
  • Windows 98: June 1998 (three years later)
  • Windows ME: Sept. 2000 (two and a quarter years later)
With Windows 2000, Microsoft swapped in the "NT" codebase as its official consumer and client operating system.  However, Windows NT was hardly new, having been commercially available for enterprise servers and workstations with the release of NT 3.1 in 1993. 

NT 3.1 originated out of a 1988 effort to develop a future operating system, spearheaded by David N. Cutler -- a veteran of the now-defunct Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) who most recently helped to design Windows Azure and the Xbox One's hypervisor.  Windows NT got its name from the acronym "WNT", which was a one-letter incrementing of one of the OSes designed by Mr. Cutler for DEC -- an OS called VMS.
  • Windows NT 3.1: July 1993
  • Windows NT 3.5: Sept. 1994 (a year later)
  • Windows NT 4.0: July 1996 (two years later)
  • Windows 2000 (Windows NT 5.0): Feb. 2000 (three years and a half years later)
  • Windows XP (NT 5.1): Oct. 2001 (a year and a half later)
  • (NT 5.2 -- 64-bit updates to Windows XP in 2003-2005)
  • Windows Vista (NT 6.0): Jan. 2007 (five years and a quarter later)
  • Windows 7 (NT 6.1): Oct. 2009 (two and a half years)
  • Windows 8 (NT 6.2): Oct. 2012 (three years)
  • Windows 8.1 (NT 6.3): Oct. 2013 (one year)
Looking at Microsoft's schedule, it's suffered major feature creep in recent years with long delayed releases like Vista (codenamed "Longhorn").  Also, aside from a handful of custom names "Window ME", "Windows XP", "Windows Vista", Microsoft has generally used numbered branding -- "Windows [0-9]" and "Windows [0-9].1" -- or branding by year -- "Windows 9x" or "Windows 2000".

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

A release branded Window 8.2 would be unusual as it would be a first in Microsoft's long history.  However, internally it makes sense that the release may be called that as other products (e.g. Windows XP, Windows 8) were internally dubbed "NT [0-9].2"

Looking ahead, the next major version of Windows is expected to be Windows 9.  Microsoft sources reportedly told Neowin that the OS is on track.  Microsoft has shared updates on the new OS's development internally across various groups.  However, no widespread internal testing has begun yet.  Windows 9 is rumored to unify Windows and Windows Phone into a single OS.

Source: Neowin

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Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By quiksilvr on 6/19/2014 8:57:05 PM , Rating: 4
I always found this very confusing. If you look at the Properties of your Computer, it doesn't indicate whether or not you installed Update 1. Why didn't they just call it SP1 and stick to the known nomenclature?

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By chµck on 6/19/2014 9:00:03 PM , Rating: 1
Because a service pack is just a collection of updates in a single package.

No need to go all OSX here...

By zephyrprime on 6/20/2014 12:32:50 PM , Rating: 5
No it's not. Service packs in the past have included new features that were not included in any individual updates and were never included in any individual updates.

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By therealnickdanger on 6/19/2014 9:02:45 PM , Rating: 3
Because "service" implies that something is broken.

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By cubby1223 on 6/19/2014 9:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
Because "service" implies that something is broken.

Windows 8 is broken.

By Peter-B on 6/20/2014 2:58:08 AM , Rating: 1
Stating your opinion as a fact...

By Gungel on 6/20/2014 7:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
Strange, my Windows 8 runs much better than Windows 7 ever did and it offers many more useful features. You must be doing something wrong.

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By retrospooty on 6/20/2014 7:50:26 AM , Rating: 3
You cant say that... "broken" indicates its not operating as designed. Win8's problem is that the UI is gutwrenchingly awful, but it works as designed. The problem is the awful design.

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By NeoReaper on 6/20/14, Rating: -1
RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By retrospooty on 6/20/2014 11:44:28 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are confusing the OS and responsiveness and the horrible decision that is the new UI. Totally separate subjects. There are alot of improvements in Win8, it's just that the UI is so awful to many people, so they will never even try it.

It's like a great new sports car that only comes in Neon purple with yellow trim and no door handles so opening it is a pain in the ass.

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By NeoReaper on 6/20/2014 12:41:24 PM , Rating: 3
Not exactly, I happen to hate the interfaces post XP. For example, I find navigating the control panel and network settings extremely irritating. For the most part the interface annoyances in Windows 8 are very similar to the interface annoyances I find in 7 and Vista which is why I technically hate them all but at least Windows 8 is "snappy".

The lack of a real start button is somewhat of a moot point to me because I haven't used the start button much since Windows 98. I prefer using the "quick launch" bar for all my applications and keyboard shortcuts for things Windows Explorer and Device Manager.

I do understand some of the hatred towards the Tile UI if you don't have a touch screen but I sincerely feel that it's been blown way out of proportion.

RE: Y u no just call it Service Pack?
By retrospooty on 6/20/2014 12:52:38 PM , Rating: 1
"I happen to hate the interfaces post XP. For example, I find navigating the control panel and network settings extremely irritating."

OK, I see what you mean. I was just referring to the mainstream of people that hate the new UI on Win8.

"I do understand some of the hatred towards the Tile UI if you don't have a touch screen but I sincerely feel that it's been blown way out of proportion."

I agree, it has to an extent, and it is easily remedied with one of several free and easy to install apps... It's more of a point thing. They forced it on us and gave no choice if using 8, so the answer is, we choose to not buy Win8 period. I don't personally want to reward them for draconian behavior. When they fix it (as we have seen screenshots with the new hybrid start/tile menu) I will gladly pay them again. It actually looks really slick to me, now that it isn't forcing a full screen menu.

By NeoReaper on 6/20/2014 1:10:14 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree with you on the screen shot of the hybrid interface, it looks quite awesome. I didn’t mind paying for Windows 8 even though I'm not actively using it at this moment (still running my ancient XP at home and Linux at work) because I only paid the $30 early upgrade price for Pro back when they first introduced it at a dicount. I figured it was a pretty fantastic deal considering it was a Microsoft "Pro" product.

I definitely wouldn't recommend buying Windows 8 as a standalone OS purchase but if ur machine comes bundled with Windows 8 (a new Dell computer or whatever) I wouldn't suggest downgrading to 7 since there are many free tools to give you a "classic" start menu for less than the price of Windows 7 and you get to keep the performance enhancements of Windows 8

By drothgery on 6/20/2014 12:06:24 PM , Rating: 2
I saw something where Microsoft is obligated to support service packs for some (rather long) length of time (at least for enterprise customers). So something they expect customers to automatically upgrade from in less than a year won't be branded as a service pack anymore.

By Braxus on 6/20/2014 12:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Guessing one of the other reasons is by releasing a service pack, Microsoft extends the support life of Win8. Kind of how WinXP was a while back. WinXP SP3 was supported but the RTM and SP1 versions were no longer.

Windows releases
By HardwareDufus on 6/19/2014 9:00:52 PM , Rating: 2
Windows 1.0: Nov. 1985
Windows 2.0: Dec. 1987 (two years later)
Windows 2.1: May 1988 (six months later)
Windows 3.0: May 1990 (two years later)
Windows 3.1: April 1992 (two years later)
Windows 95: Aug. 1995 (two and a half years later)
Windows 98: June 1998 (three years later)
Windows ME: Sept. 2000 (two and a quarter years later)

I might include another one... albiet ill named... Windows 98 Second Edition... to round out the pre NT core product line.

Let's be honest and state that.
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 98 Second Edition
Windows ME
Were really, more or less, Windows 32/16bit 4.0, Windows 32/16bit 4.1, Windows 32/16bit 4.1 Service Pack 1, Windows 32/16bit 4.2
No real changes to the core (except that ME drived to adopt a new driver model), all riding on top of 16bit DOS. Confusing? Oh yeah...

Another note too, is Windows NT 4.0 became a very different OS after several of the Service Packs (finishing with Service Pack 6a). Even Service Pack 4 offered something called Option Pack 4. One could argue that eventually by the time SP4/OP4 rolled around we were looking at Windows NT 4.X.. though it was never given a new release name.

The idea that Windows Vista and Windows 8.1 Update 1 are considered part of the same Windows Release (Windows Versión 6.x) boggles me.

Architecturally, I thought NT/Windows2000 were similar,
Windows XP, Vista & 7 were similar (luna vs aero interface and different driver model)..
and Windows 8 was a different world altogether... (though once you go to desktop mode it's like Vista/7)...

Not arguing with anything you wrote... Just highlighting from a consumer/user standpoint... and an IT profesional aware of some of the underpinnings... that Windows naming conventions have never made one bit of sense! None at all!

If it's Windows 8.1 Update 2... well at least we can be assured it will be absolutely free!!

They better be ready to make Windows 9, maybe they will get clever and call it something like Windows Cloud 9, emphasizign the cloud across all devices (Windows / Windows pone).

Of interest to me is what happens to NT, RT, Phone flavors of Windows9?

RE: Windows releases
By HardwareDufus on 6/19/2014 9:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ok my last two sentences were a cluster of partial phrases...

I meant to say that I hope they will make Windows 9 very distiguishable... seriously differentiating features.

RE: Windows releases
By atechfan on 6/20/2014 5:35:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see Windows 9 be a hypervisor, and then allow you to build your Windows modularly. You'd have the hypervisor load the core kernel and the WinRT API environment, since that is the future of Windows, and everything else would be user configurable. Will you be running lots of Win32 apps? Load the Win32 environment. Like Modern UI? Load that. Like the desktop? Then load that. There is no reason to tie the WinRT runtime environment to Modern UI. Code a version of the classic desktop using the new APIs too.

This allows them to make very minimal installs for tablets that don't have lots of storage, plus give the user more control. It also means that the archaic Win32 can be shed making a leaner Windows except when it is needed. I'd set up mine so that Win32 programs always ran in a VM that killed itself when the program was closed.

RE: Windows releases
By Labotomizer on 6/27/2014 3:24:52 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like the old goals of Midori. I would love if they did that. It's basically how the server works, without the Win32 and Metro environment being separated that is.

RE: Windows releases
By CaedenV on 6/19/2014 11:57:52 PM , Rating: 2
I would dare to bet that they are going to get all clever and call it Windows One, Windows Phone One, Xbox One, and Windows One RT, just to go with their whole 'we are unifying Microsoft' kick and to push the unified core and apps that are supposedly coming down the pipe

RE: Windows releases
By DanNeely on 6/20/2014 9:54:12 AM , Rating: 2
The reason why Vista, Win 7, and Win 8 all have an internal version of 6.x is that there haven't been major breaking changes to kernel mode APIs or the driver model. The interface layer has undergone major revisions and MS has made significant changes to the kernel in areas beyond public access; but for a low level 3rd party windows developer almost everything still works the same and various power user/admin/maintenance tools should all still work across all 3 consumer versions. When MS increments the major version number it's generally expected that the everything still works invariant is no longer true; the need for 3rd parties to create (and then optimize) new drivers for most of their products was one of the major stumbling blocks Vista ran into on launch.

RE: Windows releases
By hellokeith on 6/24/2014 12:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot Windows 95 Service Release 2..

Well that was a waste of time
By name99 on 6/19/2014 9:07:28 PM , Rating: 5
So basically
- MS is preparing some update to Win Phone
- It'll be released at some point
- The grand excitement is over precise details of how to name it?

Jesus, talk about desperate to find some "news".

RE: Well that was a waste of time
By CaedenV on 6/19/2014 11:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
Ya, The next few updates until the release of WP9 are basicly going to be hardware support for new devices, and tweaks to APIs to support more unified apps in the store... not expecting a whole lot in the way of new features between WP8.1 and WP9/One

RE: Well that was a waste of time
By bodar on 6/20/2014 1:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously. Do we even know what IS in the Update, since the revised Start menu is off the table? I didn't catch anything in the article.

RE: Well that was a waste of time
By BZDTemp on 6/20/2014 3:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
We do , which is why there is no need to do an whole article about that since the new information is when and not what.

RE: Well that was a waste of time
By bodar on 6/20/2014 4:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'm just saying a summary sentence or two might improve that part of the article, since it is clearly related info, more so than the history of Windows versioning tangent.

Windows phone being ignored?
By stimudent on 6/20/2014 10:24:07 AM , Rating: 2
I still have only seen one person with a Windows phone. It's like people vaguely know it exists and when it is brought up, it's a quick glance, whatever, kind of response.

RE: Windows phone being ignored?
By CyCl0n3 on 6/23/2014 3:39:13 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you must be living in the US then. Here in europe i saw quite a few people with WP. and it definitely got more the last 6 month, especially Lumia 6xx, 9XX series.

It had better be free....
By TEAMSWITCHER on 6/20/2014 11:42:13 AM , Rating: 1
I just bought a full retail copy of Windows 8.1 Pro, so the Update to Windows 9 had better be completely free. Free like like If Apple can provide free updates with significant new features to can Microsoft.

This is especially true considering that the quality of the new features will likely be less valuable to me than what Apple is blessing Mac and iOS users with. Microsoft doesn't control my ecosystem - I don't use a Windows Phone so don't make me pay for an OS that inter-operates with one.

It's not like Microsoft didn't get paid, I gave them $200 for this clunky OS, and I'm seriously thinking about downgrading back to Windows's that bad. Microsoft wants to stop apologizing, but they have yet to released a true upgrade to Windows 7 for desktop users. Anyone who bought Windows 8 still deserves an apology.

RE: It had better be free....
By Just Tom on 6/20/2014 12:13:36 PM , Rating: 3
Ok, so you just paid full retail for Windows 8.1 Pro and you are surprised that you don't like it? Despite the fact you belong to a tech site that has talked about 8.1's features endlessly.

Couple of questions: Why on earth did you pay full retail? An upgrade would cost you $80 on Amazon. And if you're building a new machine you could just a system builder disc for $130.

You might have a point about initial adopters on Win8, but at this point anyone with any knowledge knows exactly what Win8 is about.

By BaronMatrix on 6/20/2014 2:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
What makes MS think that people who have phones have never used Windows with Aero...?

If MS is serious they would have a Windows Desktop Core which could load either modern UI or Aero UI...

I hate having a $400 GPU and knowing that MS took Aero from it... I hate my laptop because using Aero next to Modern is a downgrade...

With no Aero, there is no reason for me to bother...

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