More than a year ago, the notorious Russian Windows leaker WZor dropped hints that Microsoft was working on a cloud-based OS to follow Windows 9. WZor has since gone into hiding following the arrest of an inside leaker a few months back, but a new source has yet another hint of the OS to come.
An eagle-eyed NeoWin.com user spotted the Facebook profile of a Microsoft employee who listed the work he or she is doing. First is "Windows 9 & Server & mobile edition," with the status partly blurred to protect the person because it had revealing information.
Below that was "Windows 365. Status: Alpha based on Windows Core." The next was "Office 2015" and its status, which was blurred out.
In an update several months ago, WZor said Windows 9 would be a sort-of return to the old Windows, with the Modern UI. He had hinted at a May release, and here we are with no sign of it. So who knows? By the way, it seems WZor is coming back to business. He's restarted his blog, but it is empty.
As for the mention of "Windows 9 Server & mobile edition," there is a ton of code reuse between the client, server and phone operating systems. So this person is likely working on something used in all three segments.
I don't know much about the Office 2015 entry, other than the reported codename of "Gemini" that would feature Office with a Modern UI look. Given the rumors that the Modern UI is on the way out of Windows, I wonder if that is indeed the case.
The talk of a cloud-enabled OS is nothing new, even with the WZor rumors. New CEO Satya Nadella talked about cloud-enabling for Windows in his first letter to the company when he was first announced as CEO.
And a few weeks ago, Neowin pointed out a job opening at Microsoft for a "Senior Software Development Engineer - Membership Offers & Engagement," which offered more hints of a cloud-based OS.
"We are a team focused on developing services that will power Microsoft's ability to offer Windows as a Service. You will help build the software platform that allow 1st and 3rd party service providers to onboard their services on to the Microsoft's new consumer membership program. You will prototype and develop services that connect partners with consumers to offer an integrated Microsoft membership experience."
All of this is a reflection of the trend in software to keep pulling money out of users. Software companies are no longer content to sell their boxed products; they want to keep coming back to the well. It started with the antivirus companies selling subscriptions. Since you absolutely need AV software, skipping a subscription wasn't much of an option.
Then Microsoft made Office an on-demand app. And users learned what happened when their subscription expired: ransom. People could open and look at their Word and Excel files, but couldn't edit them.
So what will happen with a cloud-based Windows? Will we have to pay an annual fee to Microsoft? Users will go crazy and Apple will have a field day. I personally think such a move would be suicide, but I'm not the boss. So I hope less greedy heads prevail.