Russian leaker WZOR reports that some news outlets already have Windows 9 "Threshold" as of Tuesday but are not allowed to publish reviews until September 30, the day Microsoft intends to reveal the upcoming OS to the public. This press version will be updated during Microsoft's press event to unlock a number of features previously not provided.
The report claims that Microsoft plans to ease up on its activation policies, allowing customers to re-install the platform an unlimited number of times on the same hardware. The company also plans to increase the number of times customers can re-activate Windows 9, allowing consumers to transfer their copy to a new system or the same system with a new hard drive.
Previous reports from unnamed sources indicated that Microsoft will offer Windows 9 free to customers still running Windows 7 and Windows 8. However, we presumed that Microsoft would instead use the same Windows 8 scheme for Windows 9: charge $40 to those on the latest version (Windows 8.1) and full price for consumers on all older versions (Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP). As before, the discount would only last until January.
A separate report regarding Windows 9 indicates that Microsoft has inserted a new anti-piracy system to help reduce the number of pirated copies of Windows. This seemingly goes against rumors that Windows 9 will be a free upgrade -- why would you beef up anti-piracy features in software that will be freely handed out to everyone? Remember, Windows 8.1 with Bing isn't free to OEMs; the software merely has a reduced price.
That all said, the Windows 9 consumer/technical preview is expected to be released on September 30. The platform will then go RTM before the end of the year, and be made available as a retail product in April 2015. There's a good chance the company plans to remove the numbering system from the Windows brand, as seen with the recent Windows Phone leak.
Based on recent leaks, Windows 9 is expected to bring back the Start Menu and allow Modern UI "Start Screen" apps to run in a windowed mode on the desktop. The OS will supposedly boot into desktop mode if the platform doesn't detect a touch screen, and the Charms bar will likely be ripped out and replaced by a more functional PC Settings drop-down menu.
Cortana is also expected to play a big role in Windows 9, as will virtual desktops and a notifications center. ARM-based tablets running Windows RT won't have the desktop at all and will likely merge with Windows Phone by April 2015.