In April, at the BUILD developer conference, Microsoft will reveal further details of the successor to Windows 8.1, Windows Threshold. It is looking increasingly likely that Microsoft will stick with a number rather than words when it comes to the official name, so expect to see Windows 9 hitting the download servers rather than Windows Threshold. There will almost certainly be some form of developer and public previews prior to this, but April 2015 seems to be the likely release date for the gold code.
It had been thought that the follow-up to Windows 8.1 could be Windows 8.2, but in all probability it will be Windows 9 -- Microsoft appears to be shying away from the word- or letter-based names such as XP, Vista and Me these days. There have been a great deal of rumors about just what could be included in Threshold, and according to Paul Thurrott, this year's BUILD is where we might start to get some concrete facts.
There have been some strong hints that the Start menu will make a return, and if Thurrott's sources are to be believed we should not be disappointed on this front -- nor with the rumor that modern apps could be run on the desktop in windowed mode. Whether this is all we can expect to see from the so-called Metro 2.0 remains to be seen.
At the moment, the focus is very much on the upcoming update to Windows 8.1, so it is extremely unlikely that we will see a working version of Windows 9 at BUILD, although Microsoft will almost certainly set out its vision for the future.
April 2015 really isn’t all that far away -- it is a little over a year, after all -- and with three proposed milestone releases between now and then, there's going to be a great deal of Windows 9 news over the coming months. Paul Thurrott suggests that the decision to name the operating system Windows 9 rather than Windows 8.2 is to enable Microsoft to place some distance between it and a version of Windows that has been seen by many to be disappointing.
One thing is for sure. There are some exciting times ahead. From the changes that are alleged to be included in Windows 9, it sounds as though Microsoft is doing what it used to do so well -- listening to its customers.
Have you heard any rumors about Windows 9 that you're particularly looking forward to, or are there any changes you feel really must be made if Windows 8.1's successor is to succeed?