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

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

192 Comments
  • Wow
  • 1
  • Windows 7 is wow but for Windows 8.1 it should be free.
  • Ok how do I update my windows 7 to pack 1
  • If You have automatic updates on, you already have it. If not, Google it (but ONLY download it from Microsoft's website)
  • So I can't update it from "windows update" from control panel ??
  • 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.
  • HURRAY FOR FREE WINDOWS 9 FROM WINOWS 7 SP1 TO THE NEWEST WINDOWS(currently 8.1)
  • Google it #$%&@. Bing it for sure
  • Let's hope it's true :D
  • The times, they are a-changin'.
  • This would be huge for Microsoft. I am really liking the new MSFT. Stock shows public trust too. Keep the momentum up.
  • Awsome :D
  • 2
  • That's, awesome.
  • 3
  • 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!
  • 4
  • Your name should be Count Terblanche, maybe :D
  • :D
  • 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.
  • Aka Google land
  • 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.
  • Microsoft losses money on the app store
  • 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.
  • Switch to Windows
  • Exactly, so I see it as a bad idea....
  • 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.
  • This is only a free upgrade, you still need to own a copy of Windows
  • Think of it like early beta ? and it's not yet confirmed, don't trust any rumor if there isn't anything official
  • I'm just glad I never purchased a kin.
  • The Kin looked cool though. Was overpriced for what it was.
  • I really doubt it will be free.... Like really really doubt it
  • Windows is going free now.  It should be going open source, too.  My guess is, it will be.
  • Windows will be open source when the sun goes supernova.
  • Free, maybe. It will definitely never be open source though.
  • 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
  • Ding ding have a winner!
  • 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.
  • It is smart in the long run, but damn...
    Cutting edge is the bleeding edge. Some of us got burned.
  • Just because its free doesn't mean it is easy for IT to upgrade to.
  • That's great news. I'm using win 7 without upgrading to win8., that'll be a gud deal for me :P
  • 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
  • Great :)
  • Yeah, can't wait!
  • Damn
  • 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.
  • Hope this feature of two apps running together, will be compatible with all windows phone
  • +720 agreed
  • 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"
  • Maybe 4". I wrote a small app on my free time that lets me run 2 IE windows open and it works great on my Lumia 1020. Not very useful on a 520 but it works. EDIT: Screenshots: http://1drv.ms/1vpB3uI
  • Just wish MS will learn from your app
  • It work on screens above 4" most windows phone have that screen size
  • Looking forward to it! I still haven't upgraded any of my computers to Win8.x, but certainly would if this was true.
  • You should do it now, its amazing. I installed 2days ago. I was stun to play asphalt 8 on win8.1
  • I can't stand Win7 at work now.. Feels old, kludgy and missing stuff I use.
  • 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. -SAB
  • Wowwwwwwwwwwww
  • But pls give me info abt how to get this update when its Available...
  • 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.
  • The future looks good B)
  • Give them the platform for free, and charge them for the services.... Sounds like a good business plan to me.
  • Finally they understood that the biggest money come from 3rd party apps ! 30%
  • Microsoft still loses money on the store...
  • Finally. Thank you Microsoft to give the OS, hopefully for free to consumers who purchase original stuff :D
  • Woot
  • Keep thar word
  • That would be great
  • Same thing Apple is doing with it's OS.  Very nice move MS.  It'll cut down on piracy for sure.
  • Obviously will cut down piracy and this will cut down the price of surfaces too
  • Sure will. I'm more hoping other vendors would begin to build a "Surface-like" tablets.
  • Don't you mean Lumia by Microsoft Tablets!!!
  • No, that product doesn't exist.
  • Actually it does or rather will do, Microsoft are ditching the Surface brand name and replacing it with Lumia by Microsoft!!
  • Metro will be there u can switch to it manually.they are making it customizable
  • If so, that $15 I spent on Windows 8 upgrade could be the best purchase I've ever made!
  • 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!
  • They said the same when win8 came out so I doubt it :/
  • 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.
  • So is this that big news that we were made to get dazzled with??
  • They said windows phone. This is about windows.
  • 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 ex