We’ve seen in quite a number of reports that Microsoft is eager to put Windows 8 behind it and move forward with Windows 9. The release of Windows 8.1 and Update 1 shows that the company is trying to make amends, especially for the desktop user who may or may not have a touch screen. Because of this, the public beta of Windows 9 is expected to make an appearance in 4Q 2014 followed by a full release in Q2/Q3 2015.
Over the weekend, Windows Build 6.4.9788 hit the internet, showing that Microsoft will indeed return the Start Menu back to where it belongs. As previously reported, the Menu will contain both your standard Windows 7-style links and Modern UI apps in one list on the left, and a list of live tiles on the right. The main taskbar aligned at the bottom appears to be unchanged.
Neowin points out that this particular screen reads Windows 8.1 Pro, not Windows 9. Neowin's sources allege that the screenshot is legitimate, and that Microsoft is still using the Windows 8.1 branding for now (this isn’t unusual). If it weren’t for the leaked build, we would have assumed that the screen came from Windows 8.1 Update 2, which is expected next month.
Keep in mind that because the leaked platform is an early build of the next-generation Windows operating system, features will naturally change before the platform officially goes public. Mashable reports that the new Start Menu showed in the leaked 9788 OS looks similar to what was demonstrated during BUILD 2014 back in May. However, the tiles are different, leading to the assumption that this release is indeed an early version of Windows 9.
Another screenshot pulled from Build 9788 shows a Modern UI PC Settings window lingering on the desktop screen. This backs up previous reports that users can open Modern UI apps either on the Start Screen or within the desktop.
As previously reported, Windows 9 will cater to the desktop user as well as those with touch panels. If Windows determines that the user has a non-touch screen and a keyboard and mouse attached, then it will automatically boot up the desktop. If the platform detects a touch screen and no attached peripherals, then it will boot into the Start Screen.