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.
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.