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The Start menu may return to Windows

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Microsoft appears to be readying some significant changes to its next version of Windows. Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft is planning to make the Start menu available as an option in the next major Windows release, currently codenamed "Threshold." The Start menu change will follow a recent reversal that Microsoft made in Windows 8.1, bringing back the Start button UI. It’s not clear if the Start menu will be made available for all versions of Windows Threshold, and Thurrott speculates it may appear as an option for those that only support desktop apps.

Further Threshold changes appear to include an option to run Windows 8-style ("Metro") apps on the desktop. Currently, the new Windows 8-style apps can run alongside the desktop, but the next version of Windows is said to expand this greatly by allowing Metro apps to float as separate windows on the desktop. Third-party tools like Stardock’s ModernMix already support this, but it appears Microsoft will add it natively to provide more flexibility for its new style apps.

Separate versions of Windows for consumer and business

On the topic of Threshold, ZDNet is also reporting that Microsoft is moving to a simplified version of Windows for consumers, including a version focused on Windows 8-style apps that’s updated frequently and available for ARM-based Windows tablets, PCs, and Windows Phones. A more traditional consumer version will be designed for the current PC market and fully support existing desktop apps. A separate enterprise version will include the policy management and enterprise features that you’d expect, but it’s not designed to be updated as frequently as the consumer SKUs. The Verge can confirm Microsoft is investigating separate consumer and enterprise versions of Windows.

Microsoft’s Windows "Threshold" version is expected to debut in spring 2015.