Microsoft may have only just got its mandatory Windows 8.1 Update 1 release out of the door, but the company is claimed to be looking to launch Windows 8.2 as early as the autumn.
Microsoft is rumoured to be planning Windows 8.2 for an autumn launch, to be followed by Windows 9 and a new product dubbed Windows Cloud.
Part of the company's rumoured shift to a rapid release cycle, similar to the six-monthly releases of Ubuntu Linux and Apple's more recently adopted annual OS X release cycle, Windows 8.2 will take over from Windows 8.1 as the company's primary operating system. A precursor to Windows 9, Windows 8.2 can be thought of as a Service Pack release for Windows 8.1 and will include features promised at the BUILD conference earlier this year but not found in Windows 8.1 Update 1 - such as the new Start Menu, which combines the icon-based menu of Windows 7 with a Windows Phone-inspired Live Tile bar.
At least, that's the rumour. Microsoft, typically, is refusing to discuss unannounced products; Russian pirate group WZOR has no such qualms, however, and claims to be in possession of critical information regarding Microsoft's planned release schedule.
According to a message spotted and translated by Myce
, Microsoft plans to launch Windows 8.2 as early as the autumn. The release is expected to be the last update to the Windows 8 family, with the next launch being Windows 9 and bringing with it even more serious changes to the divisive user interface first introduced in Windows 8.
Windows 8.2, like Windows 8.1 before it, will be released as a free upgrade for all Windows 8 family customers. The WZOR group has claimed that it has received conflicting reports that Windows 9 will also be a free upgrade for Windows 8.2 users, with Microsoft echoing the upgrade path of Apple's recent OS X Mavericks; others speaking to the group have claimed that it will be a paid-for release, with heavy discounts available for early adopters upgrading from the Windows 8 family.
Other details claimed by the group include the impending release of Windows Cloud, a virtualised version of the company's operating system designed to provide competition at the extreme low-end of the market for Google's Chrome OS. Windows Cloud, it is claimed, would allow users to access core functionality for free and pay a subscription fee for more advanced applications.
Microsoft, as is usual for the company, has not commented on the rumours.