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A Windows 9 wish list includes full Windows Start menu

After looking at Windows 8.1 for hints and speculating about Windows 9, our columnist makes his OS wish list. It includes features such as a proper Windows Start menu and cloud file-sharing integration.

With Windows 9 reportedly just around the corner -- as soon as the spring of 2015 -- the prospect of a new operating system has stirred up a lot of conversation among IT professionals. Will Windows 9 be Microsoft's much-needed saving grace given the fallout over Windows 8.x? Will it be the endpoint OS that enterprises move toward, or will Windows 7 be the mainstay for the foreseeable future? I believe we'll find out in the next 24 months.

I've been a pretty big fan of Windows 8 since the beginning -- when it's tuned to look like Windows 7, that is. Some details about Windows 9 have already been released. Who knows how accurate they are? Regardless of how things turn out, this IT guy can dream of some things he'd like to see in the upcoming OS. Here's my wish list.

No Modern UI by default

Especially on non-touch desktops, like what most people still use in the enterprise. The forced change from the traditional user interface to Windows 8 Modern is arguably the most short-sighted thing that Microsoft has ever done. It's cool on a tablet and much more usable on mobile devices than the traditional desktop once you learn it, but it really shouldn't be enabled by default on desktops and laptops.

There's nothing wrong with making the traditional UI better -- think OS X -- but Microsoft has to let desktop users continue to do things the way they've been working for the past couple of decades. Otherwise, it will again have consequences.

A proper Start menu

Microsoft's attempt at bringing back the Start button was a lame, half-hearted move presumably done to appease a few users. It was only half of what was needed. The actual Start menu is where the work got done. People want to be able to get their work done without having to learn something completely new.

Is any business user really clicking the new Start button in Windows 8.1 and then doing everything else in the Modern UI anyway?

A single Control Panel

I don't know who thought that having some Control Panel functions accessible via the traditional interface and others that require the Modern UI was a good idea, but it needs to be in one location, period.

More enterprise features

Building on Workplace Join, Work Folders and BitLocker would be great for starters. Continued cloud file-sharing integration would be nice as well. If Microsoft wants to make sure that Windows 9 is -- and stays -- the most secure desktop OS, the company will have to make a more concerted effort to simplify third-party patch management via the System Center Configuration Manager or another way.

Right now, trying to control third-party patches is one of the greatest problems with desktop security, and it's still kludgy at best.

I have faith in Microsoft, which has been inextricably tied to advances in computing. I'm holding my breath, however. The company is going to have to win back the trust of the population with its next OS, or people will continue on this new path of not taking its software seriously. Until Windows 9 is released, the best thing we can do is let our voices be heard. I hope someone in Redmond is listening.

Next Steps

Windows 8.1 provides hints about Windows 9

Windows 9 could support unified apps and cloud integration

IT shrugs at Windows 8.1 even as Microsoft preps Windows 9

Windows 8 Start menu gets reskinned by third-party products

How to find the Windows 8 Start menu and related admin tools

Sort fact from fiction about Windows 8 features

This was first published in August 2014

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