Leaked release dates shed light on Microsoft's Windows 9 plans

A new batch of rumored release dates give a glimpse into Microsoft's plans to return Windows to glory.

The Russian super sleuth continues his stream of updates on a nearing 8.1 update and the release of Windows 9.

Maybe it's a good thing Microsoft is in a bit of chaos right now, because it's leakier than an 80-year-old man who drank a gallon of tea. WZor, the leaker with a track record dating back to the Vista days, has unleashed a bunch of dates that, if true, indicate a very busy year.

First up, he said Microsoft partners will be getting a pre-beta version of Windows Developer Preview 9 soon. He didn't have a precise date, but figured it would be after February 15, and he put the probability at 90%. The plan was to get it to partners before the Build conference in April.

Next, he said the first and only beta of Windows 9 will appear in May of this year, with one and only one Release Candidate coming at the end of August or the beginning of September. Bugs will be collected through the end of October and up November 15, if necessary. However, he thinks RTM will be around October 21-25 to get it ready for Christmas.

As for Windows 8.1, he and a second site both report Microsoft has compiled a second escrow build, which means no more features will be added - it’s all about bug fixes before the final signoff. The release date is subject to debate. Some say April, others say it will be earlier.

The latter makes more sense. Windows 8 Update One, as it's formally known, is mostly tweaks to make the OS more keyboard- and mouse-friendly. If I were Microsoft, I'd want it out before the conference Build so the show can be all about Win9. Then again, Microsoft's party line is that Windows 9 is coming next year.

One thing I don't get, though, is a recent move where Microsoft extended the pre-install life of Windows 7 Professional past October 31. For a while, it was known that Microsoft would not sell Win7 preloaded on PCs after Halloween, but the company quietly changed this policy late last year.

So why would Microsoft create a situation where it is selling three operating systems? Because that's exactly the situation it will be in by the fourth quarter of this year if all the rumors hold up: Windows 7 Professional for businesses, Windows 8, and Windows 9.

The only reason I can see is that business users have spoken loudly, and their Windows 7 deployments will continue through Q4 and they need it. Windows 8 is a no-fly zone and Windows 9 would be too new and unproven. For consumers, Windows 9 will be just fine, fingers crossed.

So what's up with Windows 9? I hope to know this week.

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