The next release of Windows will sport a new kernel, a "flattened" desktop, and live tiles that can be re-sized.
eWeek has published a story based on info from an "enthusiast" at Taiwanese online forum PCBeta who claims to be an alpha tester of the new version of Windows. This person reports that Microsoft will be sticking with the Modern UI overlay, but is also borrowing a few tricks from Windows Phone 8, seemingly blurring the line between the two screens.
According to this source, codenamed "Maxy", the next Windows release will offer more customization options than before, one of which is the ability to re-size the Live Tiles on the Modern UI interface. This means consumers will be able to expand their favorite tiles, giving them more virtual real estate than those less frequently used.
Unfortunately, that's it for anything fresh and new. As previously reported, Microsoft is shooting for yearly Windows updates for a low price rather than wait every three or four years to release an upgrade. The company has already shown that it's willing to take on this low-priced model by testing the $40 waters with the latest Windows 8 Pro upgrade.
Microsoft's "Windows Blue" scheme will reportedly begin late summer / early fall 2013 with the next desktop and mobile OS release. It will either be offered at a very low price point, or completely free to ensure that all Microsoft customers upgrade to the latest platform. Keep in mind that offering a cheap or free upgrade means most consumers may jump at the chance, thus making the overall Windows platform more secure and less fragmented.
As for the upgrade numbering system, there are reports that the next big release will be Windows 9. But there's a good chance Microsoft will revert back to the days of Windows 3.x and make the desktop release Windows 8.1 and the mobile release Windows Phone 8.1. Regardless, consumers will need a legitimate copy of both before upgrading to the 2013 release – those updating from a pirated copy will see their apps and the Windows Store itself cease functioning.
For the record, eWeek's source claims to be alpha testing "Windows 9 dev" so maybe Microsoft will stick to whole numbers for each yearly release while possible service packs will bump the current platform up a decimal – who knows at this point. This source also reports that the desktop will remain intact in the next release (yay), but will be "flattened" to better mesh with the Modern UI overlay. A new kernel (6.3) will also be used, the source said.