MICROSOFT HAS SENT INVITATIONS to an event on 30 September, all but confirming that the next version of Windows is imminent.
The invitation says, "Join us to find out what's next for Windows and the enterprise." Given what we already know, there's very little to hypothesise here. Barring a huge twist, this will be a chance for developers and users to get a preview of the next version of Windows, which due for release next spring.
Here's what we already know. Following a leak from the Chinese offices of Microsoft, it is all but certain that the next release codenamed Threshold will be called Windows 9. Some have speculated that the two are different things, but with Microsoft pledging a more granular approach to updates, it seems unlikely that it will fork Windows.
The Start Menu is back. The most criticised omission from Windows 8 is back by popular demand, but includes Live Tiles, the feature at the heart of the Windows Phone interface. However it will only take up one side of the Start Menu, acting as animated folders rather than a replacement interface like the "Metro" or "Modern" interface in Windows 8.
Cortana appears to be aboard. We've had confirmation that Microsoft engineers have completed the process of incorporating the Microsoft personal assistant into test builds, but we had been warned that it might not make it into the final build. However, the latest leaked build includes multiple references to Cortana in the code, suggesting that it will be there - if not at launch, then soon afterwards.
Multiple or Virtual Desktops are also new. This will allow users to have separate working environments for, say, home and work, adding to the operating system's BYOD credentials.
Storage Sense and WiFi Sense are, it seems, being ported from Windows Phone, offering a chance to offload large files to external storage and a method for pre-authorising those pesky WiFi hotspots that require a web login.
A Notifications Centre in the system tray is expected to show messages that have popped up on the screen and timed out as you were busy doing other things. Up to now, such things have been lost forever, but now it appears that Microsoft is following the lead of Chrome OS.
However, there's still a lot that we don't know. Will, as suggested, Windows 9 be a free upgrade to Windows 8 users, with prices slashed for Windows XP and Windows 7 refusniks? Will the "Metro" or "Modern" interface be banished to the dustbin of history once and for all? How many versions of Windows 9 will there be, and how many of them will be cut down OEM versions with Bing?
Bookmark this page, we'll keep it updated with all the latest news and rumours ahead of the Microsoft Windows 9 event on 30 September. µ
'Some of us like the misery'
That'll surely affect its credit score
Smarter than your average pair of smart glasses