Get ready for a peek at what’s next with Windows.At an event in San Francisco on Tuesday, Microsoft (MSFT) is widely expected to preview a first look at the next big iteration of its iconic computer operating system, with a focus on corporate users.
Microsoft has released no other details. It’s safe to assume, though, that what comes next for Windows in 2015 will hew to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s vision of a business and consumer tech market focused on mobile devices and Internet cloud-based services.
The company has been talking broadly about its Windows strategy for months. At its developer conference in April, Nadella and other Microsoft executives outlined ways in which it would make it easier for software developers to create applications that will work across all Microsoft devices – PCs, phones and tablets.
Forrester analyst Frank Gillett says one of Microsoft’s goals will be to make keeping Windows on your PC up to date as simple as keeping your phone operating system up to date.
“With this next version I believe they are aiming for what I would call in a tongue-in-cheek way ‘the last Windows upgrade,’ ” says Gillett.
There’s even talk of Microsoft coming up with a name other than “Windows 9,” according to a Reuters report, or simply calling the operating system “Windows” going forward.
Microsoft’s last big Windows overhaul – 2012′s tablet- and touch-friendly, highly graphical Windows 8 – was a dramatic departure from the familiar and well-received Windows 7 that preceded it. It left many consumers frustrated over the disappearance of the familiar Start button and desktop.
Windows 8 has since been updated to add features that make it more comfortable for people who prefer traditional mouse-and-keyboard interactions.
Stock research firm FBR says it views Windows 9 as a potential “game-changing” product release as Microsoft looks to reinvigorate the Windows franchise and “offset headwinds” in the PC market.
Wall Street so far has embraced Nadella’s big moves since being named CEO in February. The stock is up about 25% this year. It closed Friday at $46.41.
In July, the company announced a massive layoff that would trim some 18,000 jobs, many aimed at its $7.2 billion Nokia acquisition. Earlier this year, it announced Office for iPad, a long overdue version of its bread-and-butter productivity software for Apple’s popular tablet.
And just this month, Microsoft said it will acquire the studio that created the hit “sandbox” game Minecraft for $2.5 billion, a move that could help bolster both Xbox and the company’s mobile ambitions.
Tuesday’s event is aimed at Windows in business environments as the company gives a first taste of what’s ahead for its important enterprise customer base. Nadella is traveling in Asia.
“I think what they are trying to do is start a drumbeat,” Gillett says.