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Windows 8 vs. Windows 10 - which will be better?

When Microsoft launched Windows 8 back in 2012, the company couldn't have predicted that their attempt at creating a unified OS for mobile and desktop platforms would be so divisive.

At the time, the firm's decision seemed perfectly sensible with tablet sales on the rise and consumers seemingly ready to adopt the mobile-first approach. However, just under two years later, Microsoft is ready to abandon the operating system for Threshold or Windows 9.

Read more: Watch video of Windows 9 in action [Hint: It looks amazing] (opens in new tab)

Despite its fans, from a purely commercial point of view Windows 8 has been a failure. 20 months after launch, it had acquired just 12.54 per cent market share, even trailing behind Windows Vista over the same period of time. But just why has Windows 8 failed to catch on?

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for many consumers was the lack of a Start menu. Seen as major snub for keyboard and mouse users, Microsoft is set to rectify this with Windows 9. Early screenshots show the firm reintroducing the Windows 7 Start menu alongside tiles from the Windows 8.x Start screen to provide a hybrid menu with a more universal appeal.

Crucially, Windows 9 seems set to offer greater customisation, with users able to toggle the tiled UI on or off.

Windows 8.x's Charms Bar, which appears when users hover over the bottom right corner of the screen, has been removed from the Windows 9 desktop UI, but it is likely to remain on tablets, suggesting a more targeted approach from the new OS.

Cortana, which has been well-received on Windows Phone, is also set to be added to Windows 9. The voice assistant is unlikely to have as big an impact on desktop users as it has mobile ones, but it at least shows that Microsoft's new OS isn't simply retreading old ground.

Windows 8 was perhaps a case of too much, too soon, but that doesn't mean the tech giant should drop all the features that it introduced. If it can move the Modern UI into the background for Windows 9's desktop release, while making it more prominent on touch devices, Microsoft may have a product that incorporates the best of both worlds.

Read more: Can Microsoft repair the damage with Windows 9? (opens in new tab)

Windows 9 already looks set to be an improvement over Windows 8. Microsoft appears to have recognised the different needs of mobile and desktop users, without completely abandoning the Windows 8 features that made it such an original operating system.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.