'Threshold' update could be free for Windows 7 and 8.1 users

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A new rumor claims Microsoft might offer "Threshold", the next major version of its Windows OS, as a free update for Windows 7 PC owners in addition to those folks that already have Windows 8.1 installed on their systems.

Previously, Microsoft offered Windows 8 and 8.1 as a paid update for people who owned Windows 7, as well as XP and Vista. However, according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft could make it free for Windows 7 owners who have Service Pack 1 installed, along with Windows 8.1 users.

The article also repeats rumors that Microsoft is looking to merge Windows RT and Windows Phone into one "Phone/Tablet" SKU that will just use the Modern UI and will run on ARM-based tablets and phones, along with Intel Atom tablets. That version could also run two apps side by side, which is already a feature on Windows 8 and 8.1 but has yet to be added to Windows Phone. The Desktop/Tablet version of Threshold could offer the desktop UI as the default, as Neowin posted earlier today.

As for when Threshold will be released, it still looks like the plan is for Microsoft to pull the trigger sometime in the spring of 2015. Foley claims that a public preview of Threshold, which may or may not be called Windows 9 for its final version, will be made available for download sometime this fall. She also claims that Windows 8.1 Update 2 may not get as big of a publicity push as Update 1 did earlier this year and will be launched quietly as part of Microsoft's August "Patch Tuesday" releases.

As always, treat rumors and unconfirmed reports like this with some skepticism, even from reliable sources like Foley's, and it's more than possible Microsoft could change its schedule and plans for "Threshold". What do you think about this report which claims Windows 7 owners may get a break when it comes to updating to the next major version of the OS?

Source: ZDNet


Reader comments

'Threshold' update could be free for Windows 7 and 8.1 users


If You have automatic updates on, you already have it. If not, Google it (but ONLY download it from Microsoft's website)

To check whether or not you already have it installed, simply press the Windows key on your keyboard (or click the Start button) and right click Computer and select Properties.

If you have had it installed for very long, I would be surprised if you do not already have it.

Start Button>Left Click>hover over computer> Right click>Left Click Properties

Under "Windows Edition" You should see:
Windows 7 (some version)
Copyright 2009 blah blah blah
Service Pack 1


If you don't see service pack 1 then god help your soul.

This would be huge for Microsoft. I am really liking the new MSFT. Stock shows public trust too. Keep the momentum up.

Could be? It should be free since apples offering mac osx as a free upgrade to everybody.. Hope its true.. Would be a good move!

Apple offers it as a free upgrade because they also sell the hardware. They make their money off the hardware. Where would Microsft make their money if you buy a Dell, HP, etc machine? Unless you want to see ads and software companies collecting and selling you personal info as a standard model when using software, software should cost money to pay for the development.

With the introduction of the app store it is mind-boggling to me that MS continues to charge for any version of Windows 8. Take the short term loss in order to gain market share to advertise to developers about the user base, this would in turn bring many more apps much faster, and again reinforce the user adoption. MS will make tons more money in the long run from the app store sales and adverts than they could ever hope to make selling copies of the OS. The fact that they still insist on selling copies for new machines seems ridiculous to me, and I hope that goes away as well.

Not sure if you noticed, but MS already has adds on non-paid apps in their app store. You do not have to use the app store, but if you have Win8 then in all likelihood then you will end up installing at least a few ad-enabled apps and start making them some money. If you pay for all your apps in the app store then MS still gets your money, and you don't need to see any adds.

You want Microsoft to take a short term loss on its operating system? Have you seen their financial reports to see just how much money licensing their software brings in? Two words, cash cow [still]. It would be no short term loss. More like long term giveaway.

They don't have to give it away.  They just should sell it as an initial license and then give away updates for free.  If you buy a new computer you'll most likely get a new license (since most people buy OEM machines not homebuilts).   I imagine Microsoft sells very few retail copies of Windows as a percentage of Windows Sales. 

You just said that the (average) user would pay $100+ on their app store over time. That's a LOT of money. The most I've ever spent in one thing is probably ~$40 on Hearthstone.

I'm all for a free OS, but this would be nothing short of surprising and quite possibly game changing.

I'm sure there are many people like me that haven't paid for any apps on Windows 8. All the programs I actually pay for are desktop programs, in which they get no money from.

Really? I heard the Windows Phone store earned slightly under Google's Play store which is amazing considering the massive difference in their respective market share. As for the Windows store, dunno.

I heard a rumor that the metro side of the new Windows could be free to all users.  MS would make money on the app store or advertising within apps.  If you wanted the traditional desktop then you would have to pay to get that functionality.  Again, only a rumor, but seems pretty feasable to me.

They will make money off the Echo System if they get a billion users on Smartphones, tablets, PCs and Xbox it will drive sales of Office, Skype, Bing etc... Also % they get on sales from the Store..

When your shiny Mac is obsoleted by Apple you have to fork out for another one, regardless of if it is more than capable of running the next OS X or not.

Isn't that funny? I love how my old Windows machine can run the latest iTunes but my fiancee's Macbook about the same age cannot.

Tsk tsk Apple.

My family iMac from 2007 is running Mavericks happily, and will be updated to Yosemite once that is released. 7+ years of support is pretty good in my book.

Thing is Apple is not a software company they are a hardware company. Microsoft is by and large a software maker, given they sell a few million game consoles, phones, tablets. They are not money makers for Microsoft. Heck Microsoft makes more from Android than they do from their own hardware. Anyways Microsoft can hardly afford to give away the keys to their kingdom, no matter how envious they may be of Apple.

Historically, MS has never made much money from software upgrades. Most have upgraded when they purchased a new PC. I mean, 25% of people are still running XP and will untill they buy a new computer. This has left the marks fairly fragmented with various versions. Enticing users to upgrade with a free version could drive more store sales, but also help to eliminate 8.0. That version needs to be retired quickly since it is no longer supported for patches.

So we all paid good money for Windows 8 and took the risk. Now all the whining holdouts might get an upgrade that they don't even want for free?

That makes sense. Way to treat your supporters, Microsoft.

Yes it will. But only when beats, um Apple, makes products worth their price, Google stop being kids, the NSA becomes #1 on the "most trusted companies" list, and I become world famous.

It will be good for everyone in the long run as long as there is a larger install base using modern Windows.

yah, this is what I thought too, MS would be able to expand their install base exponentially. especially if the reception is good they can even end patch support for windows 7 early to force even more people to migrate over (but that would be unethical...)

Well the good part is that there are millions who use windows 7. Hmmm. I wonder what could happen to the windows store? Yeah.

It's a fair sentiment, but consider we have also enjoyed the competitive advantages of Windows 8 for 2 years plus, with the dinosaurs left for dust. More win8/9 installs will mean more dev interest which benefits us all.

Windows Threshold/9/One is not going to be free (though it should be!), it is a free upgrade. This means that if you purchased windows 7/8/8.1 then you get a free pass, but if you are building a new system then you still have to buy into the ecosystem.

The only people getting a free copy of Windows are those who are buying future phones and small tablets where there is no OS charge, but those are all pre-installed anyways. There are no legal copies of Windows being given directly to consumers for free in this deal.

But the reality of the matter is that they SHOULD be offering free copies of the OS to anyone with hardware fast/modern enough to run it. The more people we have, the more apps we will get. I would not mind spending my $40 on Win8 and whatever cost of Windows was built into the cost of my phone and laptop if it means that we are going to regain the 3rd part app and application support that Windows enjoyed in the '90s and early '00s.

It is kind of frustrating, but knowing MS they would do something like offer all paid licenses to Win8 a terabyte of OneDrive for 2 years, Office 365 for two years, Skype premium, or some other benny so that we wouldn't feel burned.

I believe in MS services enough to vote with my $. Plus, there's supposed to be some sort of "Windows with Bing" that's supposed to be free down the road.

Early adopters get burned a great percentage of the time. But this company seems to make it up to you when they make mistakes (which they make often).

So buying an equally priced version of an OS that Microsoft legally created and still supports is supporting Microsoft less? I'm not sure the accountants agree.

Well... unless you have access to a Dreamspark Premium subscription where you can get Windows for free.  That's how I got mine.

They're trying to keep windows seven from becoming the next XP and more power to them. Myself, I'm worried about what this will do to screw up windows phone and I sure hope metro is present

This is probably more to get a large user base so the major developers will get on board and start making metro apps. Since metro apps can be easily ported to windows phone, it should help WP as well.

Anyone that uses the term "gud" because they're too lazy to use word flow and type "good" deserves a crippled free OS. No soup for you.

Isn't it probably harder to type gud than it is to flow good? One has to be typed manually, the other is with one finger. I'm not sure that means lazy :P

Adding gud to the word flow was so easy. You gotta use it for your needs. Learn it fast or your ice cream may become digital melted icecream

I hope it is free.  The more people we have with access to the Store, the more developers will be attracted to develop for the platform. With the potential access and eyes the enterprises could bring that may be the advantage that the Windows ecosystem needs.

I suppose that would be good... but I can't really see it working on phones with a screen size of anything less than ~5"

Looking forward to it! I still haven't upgraded any of my computers to Win8.x, but certainly would if this was true.

I have a Surface Pro classic. Other than OS updates, I have no use for non-desktop mode. I will prolly see what Win7Pro will do on my Surface in a few weeks.


I'm using win 7 don't have any issues unless I go for any pirate software. Windows 7 has been good to me and will surely upgrade to 9

Windows 7 has also been good to me. However, I did upgrade my desktop and laptop to windows 8 and it has been good to me too. Shouldn't be a surprise since it basically has teh same kernel as windows 7 and the same desktop as windows 7. I only had to get acclimated to the new UI, which didn't take very long.

Give them the platform for free, and charge them for the services.... Sounds like a good business plan to me.

Same thing Apple is doing with it's OS.  Very nice move MS.  It'll cut down on piracy for sure.

Actually it does or rather will do, Microsoft are ditching the Surface brand name and replacing it with Lumia by Microsoft!!

I'm all in! I can't upgrade my laptop running Windows 7 because the promotional discount offer for Windows 8 wasn't available for my country (Paraguay, and the ones from Bolivia were left out of it). And I can't afford a full version price or those Single Language Builds for OEM.
If this is free it won't be a problem for me! I like the changes happening in the business model of these companies when it comes to software license!

I'm kinda bummed that the people who supported Microsoft and purchased W8/8.1 (and 7 before that) get the same as those who only spent on 7. Of course, if this turned out to be true.

No, people who only paid for Win7 do not get the same. They never got Windows 8. You got what you paid for. It's not like you preordered Windows 9 and have still been using Windows 7 this whole time. 

Agreed. I purchased 8 for my gaming PC when it was a $40 upgrade as I'm sure alot of people did. I don't feel I was burned at all. Maybe if I paid the full $120 but honestly what do people expect, that their purchase of XP should earn a lifetime of support and upgrades? Just like early adopters complaining on the price drop off xone. You paid to have the system nearly 10 months before anyone buying now. If you weren't totally sold you should have just waited.

I really hope the part about them treating Atom-based tablets like RT devices is wrong. If they want to completely remove the desktop from RT devices then fine, it's not like they really have anything that runs in it anyways. Atoms CAN make use of the desktop and run any existing Windows software so why lump them together? What would be the point other than forcing people to purchase much more expensive tablets and likely drive them away from a Windows tablet altogether. Are they TRYING to cede the low-cost tablet market to Android? "Hmm, this tablet is cheap but it can only run the crappy selection of apps from the Windows Store. Guess I'll just buy this Android tablet instead. It can run a lot more software."

This! I'm typing this comment on my 8-inch Atom tablet that's hooked up to a 22" 1080p monitor and a wireless mouse and keyboard. Aside from the rediculous inability to charge, I love this setup and would be really sad to see it go away!

I'm also traveling the second half of this week and will be able to install my company's proprietary software on my tablet. I don't expect to be very productive on it in the airport, but I can at least look things up and edit a number here or there...

Threshold is the codename for Windows 9. WP8 will be upgraded to WP9, but it is not exactly the same thing. However, W9 and WP9 are supposed to bring the 2 ecosystems alot closer if not merge them in some way.

Hopefully they'll make the merged OS more like RT and not the other way around. If I wanted big phone, I would have bought an iPad. There are too many advantages to RT to dumb it down for WP.

Windows 8 users yes but windows 7 no why not simply offer it for £25 like windows 8 was offered. Why stab windows 8 users in the back

Yes it was I even bought 3 copies but my point is why should users who bitched about windows 8 come along and get it for nothing and then they will say that windows 9 is the best thing since sliced bread which will happen. I also looked at it from a business pov there's only so much you can make back from app sales

MS is taking more action to increase the install base of Modern UI to attract more developers, who will create amazing and useful universal apps.

Yeah I get your point but windows 8 has sold what 200 million + copies at this point if that doesn't get devs in I have know idea what will. Universal apps are a amazing thing but I just dont think its enough

Please no phone UI on tablets! That is the worst thing about iOS and Android and one of the things that Microsoft got right ...

No it's not, it's a touch interface designed specifically for large screens. Have you seen Windows Phone on the 1520? It's starting to look like early iPads, just a scaled-up phone display.

The best thing about RT is that it's *not* a phone interface. That's what makes it so productive. And if the rumor about removing touch from Pro is also true, then we completely lose a great touch OS.

I have not seen a 1520, I have no interest in a phone of its size. I have been using Windows 8 for nearly a year now. Its roots are in WinPhone - tiles, touch, scrolling, Windows Store. Windows Phone and Windows 8 are siblings. Fortunately the latter has desktop mode so it can also be productive.

I am already disappointed in the Surface 3. I like the form factor of my Surface Pro classic. If I cannot also use my fingers to scroll when I inevitably lose the pen, then it will not be an option, and I will abandon the Surface line.

Different strokes. I have both the 1520 and Surface Pro 3 and they are awesome. Can't wait to get Threshold on both.

Although I love the fact that I, as a windows 7 user, can upgrade to W8 without paying anything, I quite dislke the idea of limiting the W8 ARM devices (RT/WP) to the modern UI version o_0 I love my Surface 2 for both: the modern UI and (!) the desktop version! Please...do not change this!

Here's to hoping it doesn't have the same resolution restrictions as Windows 8. Or at least lower width requirement to 1024.

Imo free is not really needed. Unnecessary miss of income, and risk. Just make it really cheap, like max 10-30 euro. Then they still get billions of money to keep their income high and be able to invest, and practically everyone can buy it without digging deep in their pockets.
But 'free' probably sounds better....
I wish them good luck with getting enough money from just a few services lol...

Comment about RT and WP merging: Oh no!!! Here comes WP complete reset nr 3. They haven't managed to get all the bolts and nuts back after the previous "updates".

I really don't get all the hate for Windows 8. If you don't like the metro interface, stay on desktop. It's still faster and more stable than Windows 7 with an even faster boot time. It's really not much different than what Mac OS does with lauchpad and the touch-friendly Metro is great for tablets.

Sweet! That would mean I wouldn't have to worry about upgrading my Venue 8 Pro. Just hope the 8.1 drivers are compatible in the event Dell doesn't bother providing new ones (I know, I know - fat chance).

As much as I love metro I always thought it should be for Tablets/Phones and the desktop should live on.

I just hope it doesnt cause app issues, metro app store is open to so many devices even if people don't use it.

Good. Charging for the next version would be an incredibly dumb move on Microsoft's part. Windows 8 has shown that customer adoption for Windows will never be like it is for the Mac, even at $40 people didn't update (granted there were other issues surrounding the bad press and modern UI but still) and loads more still haven't updated to 8.1 from 8 yet even though that's free!

Threshold is clearly Microsofts major play for the future of Windows. 8, 8.1 and WP8.1 are all the opening salvo but Threshold brings it all together and sets them up for the next phase. They need to get as many people on board as possible as quickly as possible and to do that they need to make it free, publicise the heck out of it, and do it through Windows Update so it doesn't require much effort on the part of the user (going into the store and clicking a button was clearly too much for 50% of Windows 8 users to get 8.1).

Oh, and make it good. Tech press-proof good. ;)


As for the actual OS. I feel Windows and Windows Pro are perfectly useable names.

Windows - Running entirely modern UI on anything from 4" phones all the way to 150" TVs. (I think there should be an "in-app purchase" option for the desktop though, a lot of people with Surface's really love Windows RT for the locked down desktop so make it optional for $30 or something and for those that want it they'll get it, for everyone else, it's less complicated). This needs to maintain the versitility of current modern apps though and allow different size snap views and not revert to just two.

Windows Pro - Desktop based, only given a much needed visual overhaul to look more modern. Will run everything regular Windows does though (in windows, no less!) and link up to allow notifications and calls/texts etc to be taken from the device you're using not just your phone. It's 2014 and it's ludicrous Win8/WP8 don't already link up in this way so in 2015 it has to be there.


Or something like that. I really think far too much about these things, lol!

Hopefully they'll do another Build in October to do a big reveal and dev preview...

I doubt this will happen BUT it would be nice.

And I CAN see a reason for Microsoft to do this...I'm pretty sure they want to avoid ANOTHER Windows XP with Windows 7, meaning, people will not pay to leave it. If it's free then people might be more inclined to upgrade.


At any rate, if they give it for free, it will certainly have a catch. Microsoft will not simply give away an entire OS for free.

Yeah, that's what I'm affraid of. And honestly, that's a terrible idea. If that's what they intend to do, then I hope they also give the chance to buy Windows normaly as we did until now. For I don't like subscriptions nor IAPs (or in this case, IOPs)

Yeah, Im getting pretty sick of MS pulling this crap.  If they offer it free for Win 7, im leaving.  I paid good money to update all of my machines to 8.  Screw them

lets see, I think I would have kept my windows 7 for another year instead of shelling out 300 to put it on my machines. It's def screwed up if they make it free. I guess they could return all the money they made off of everyone that purchased it

What a piss poor way to feel about the situation simple because your feelings are hurt. #childish

It's childish for him to feel like if he waited an extra year or so that he would be £300 better off and on have the latest version of Windows? Don't be an idiot KMF79, being unhappy is completely understandable.

I didn't say shit about my opinion on whether his being unhappy was justified or unjustified. But what I did say about what he posted, is clearly childish. If you want to back him up Stringfellow, be my guest. But to say his regretful purchase outweighs all the people who own machines with Windows 7 how stand to benefit from this is idiotic.

yes free to everyone. Whether you purchased windows 8 or not! So tell me, why the hell did I pay good money for a product only to have it offered for free??? I guess people can't read!

This is sort of a slap in the face for early adopters of Windows 8, but if you think about what Microsoft wants, and that's adoption of their latest and greatest, offering it for free to all Windows 7 SP1 users would be the best incentive of getting them to move. Now the problem is you risk a Vista fiasco. Some of the XP laptops did "support" running Vista, at least met the requirements, but manufacturers never supplied the proper drivers. I would hate to see this happen, no driver support and all these Win 7 users are complaining about Windows 8 screwing up their computers when it's really the manufacturers not supporting them.

Windows threshold will likely check your computers requirements before you upgrade. Same for what happened with Windows 8

Really hope the potential merge of Windows Phone and RT doesn't nerf the Surface 2. The desktop part is extremely useful and powerful compared to other Tablet OSes.

In theory Microsoft could make a free ad supported system and then allow paid upgrades to people who wants it. Other things could be charged to like a paid codec package, version with office, etc. Like a subscription based windows or something

The LAST thing we need is more ad-supported or subscrition-based software. Please!

I'd gladly pay for the next version of Windows to have less ads in my life and I certainly wouldn't pay a subscription fee for the priveledge of using it.

All of you are such big Idiots it isn't even official that Windows 7 will be able to upgrade to next windows OS for free and everyone is so happy that new windows OS has released!

I love the idea of this as I'm currently running Windows 7 on a (sadly defective) Dell XPS 17. I can not afford new hardware now or for the foreseeable future, so this would be a very nice change of pace for Microsoft.

I still cannot get my mind off the big thing coming for windows phone. Did he mean this threshold update? One can only guess..

Satya Nadella is a brilliant man! By bringing Windows 9 to all existing Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users for free he makes it possible for around 70% of the desktop market to enjoy Microsoft latest edition of Windows.

With the universal app vision there there will be over a billion potential Windows (desktop) users for developers to reach when they make a Windows app.

And in with the same amount of effort they also reach every Windows Phone and XBox user.

This will completely wipe away the existing appgap between Windows (Phone) and iOS/Android so everyone can jump over to Windows Phone without compromising on anything.

Count in de perfect intergration between all your Windows devices and Microsoft wil become topdog again in no time.

When this happends, Google wil have a huge problem! Micrsoft is more and more intergrating Bing deeper and deeper in there software offerings blocking Google every way of the step.

Making Windows 9 free of charge for the majority of Windows users could be the most brilliant move Microsoft could make to finally become,absolutely with out a doubt, relivant in the post pc mobile/cloud first era!

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

A free Windows upgrade to a full next version number would be awesome but I'll believe it when I see it.