Darn those pesky leaks!
Website Myce has acquired a screenshot from well-known Microsoft leaker Faikee that confirms recent rumors of a second update that will take place later this year, and Windows 9 sometime around April 2015. There's also mention of Office 2015 and another platform called Windows 365. Could this latter option be the cloud-based platform we've heard so much about?
According to the Windows 365 status, the platform is in alpha and based on the Windows core. Unfortunately, that's it for details, but speculation points to a monthly subscription like Microsoft's current Office 2013 suite, with an option to pay every three months, six months or annually. This scenario would mean customers have a limited number of seats (like three per license), and will receive constant updates and new releases automatically.
The screenshot, which looks to be a scan of an internal schedule sheet, reveals that Microsoft is currently building Windows 9, Windows Server 2015 and Windows Phone 9, and presumably trying to keep the experience across all three unified. There's also mention of the "Gemini" Office 2013 Modern UI-based apps, which may be in RTM mode as of this article, as well as Windows Phone 8.1.
There's talk that Windows 9 would be free to customers, but that's unlikely given that Microsoft has bills to pay and needs that income. If anything, the Redmond company may follow its Windows 8.1 plans and offer customers with Windows 8.1 Update 2 a huge discount, while Windows 7 and Windows 8 customers will have to pay for the full upgrade.
Windows 8.1 Update 2 will likely pounce on customers this fall, bearing many requested gifts like the Start Menu for easy navigation for desktop customers. This addition won't be an exact replica we've grown fond of on Windows of old, but a mixture of live tiles and classic elements to make the menu come alive. The Start Menu will also have a search box and power options.
"I previewed some work we are doing for the next iteration of Windows, which builds on the journey we began with Windows 8 just over a year ago as well as the releases we've done since then," said OS department head Terry Myerson during BUILD in April. "In particular, I showed some early thinking on how the user experience in Windows will evolve in a way that will help developers' apps make their way to users across devices and form factors."
Cortana, the virtual assistant residing on Windows Phone 8.1, will likely make an appearance on Windows 9 next Spring. But don't worry; she won't converse with your kids aged 12 and under thanks to the U.S. government's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
As always, take all of this as a mere rumor and speculation -- except for the existence of Update 2, which was confirmed during the BUILD conference.