Windows 10 rumour round-up: What’s Microsoft planning for its next major OS release?

Windows 8.1 launched to the general public in October, but that doesn't mean Microsoft's Windows team immediately went on holiday. On the contrary, it started working on the next major OS release.

UPDATE: Microsoft has announced the next version of Windows. It is called Windows 10. Check out Pocket-lint Windows 10 feature round up or more details.

READ: Microsoft Windows 10: Here's the top features to get excited about

According to the latest batch of reports and leaks, the successor to Windows 8.1 will allegedly accomplish many things and come with an entirely new brand name. Apart from bridging the gap between the classic desktop environment and the latest Windows experience, for instance, it will introduce much-requested features and further unify Microsoft's three platforms (Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox One).

That sounds like a lot of hopes and dreamed pinned on to one operating system - and it's not immediately clear how Microsoft can juggle all of these ambitions and pack them into a single release. Still, the rumour stories are popping up left and right. To help you keep track of what Microsoft is planning, Pocket-lint has compiled a rumour round-up.

Check it out, below, and let us know in the comments what you think.

What is Windows 10 Threshold?

Goodbye, Windows 8

Windows 10 is the next version of Windows. It was thought to be called Windows 9 and once went by the codename Threshold.

Microsoft surprised everyone during a media event on 30 September in San Francisco, where it unveiled the next Windows as Windows 10. Microsoft said it didn't use Windows 9 because it "wouldn't be right". The company also didn't want to go with Windows One, mostly because it already used the "One" brand for other products.

Microsoft reportedly wants to abandon the Windows 8 brand with Windows 10, mostly because Windows 8 was not well-received by critics and users.

READ: Windows 10 teased officially by Microsoft, with logo

When does Windows 10 officially release?

Microsoft confirmed it will ship Windows 10 to consumers in 2015 - though "later in the year".

During a Q&A session after its event in San Francisco on 30 September, Microsoft elaborated on when exactly Windows 10 would officially release for consumers. It said Windows 10 would ship "mid next year" - and definitely "after the Build conference".

When does the Technical Preview release?

Reports have long claimed Microsoft would introduce a "Technical Preview" of Windows 10 this autumn. And they were right.

Microsoft has announced the Windows Insider Program at its event in San Francisco. The program will only allow PC experts and IT Pros to get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops.

The Windows Insider Program will launch on 1 October, and you can join the program through Microsoft's Windows Technical preview page. Microsoft will also soon release technical previews of Windows Server and management tools.

"The Windows Insider Program is intended for PC experts and IT pros who are comfortable using pre-release software with variable quality. Insiders will receive a steady stream of early builds from us with the latest features we’re experimenting with," Microsoft warned.

Anyone who wants to join the Windows Insider Program must first sign up. They will then be able to download the technical preview and submit feedback to Microsoft. The company said it would give more specific details about the program and how to join when it launches.

READ: Windows 10 'Threshold' release date should be 30 September

What's new in Windows 10?

Microsoft announced Windows 10 on 30 September.

The new OS will undo many messy bits that both critics and users didn't like about Windows 8, while also bringing back some Windows 7 elements and keeping touch alive for two-in-one devices. Microsoft also wants Windows 10 to be a one-application platform.

Check out Pocket-lint Windows 10 feature round up for more details... or you can look below at all the leaks and rumours that surfaced before Windows 10 unveiled.

Leaks and rumours (prior to 30 September)

A single-yet-customised OS

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft, announced earlier this year there were no longer multiple teams working on different versions of Windows: "Now we have one team with a common architecture. This allows us to scale, create Universal Windows Apps," he said.

Nadella also promised Microsoft would streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes, meaning developers will be able to create one version of an app that should work across PCs, Windows Phones, and Xbox consoles.

That said, Windows 10 is expected to be customised for different types of devices.

Some reports claimed mobile devices will have an app tile layout by default, while desktop and laptop users will have the traditional Windows layout by default. As for hybrid devices running Windows 10, such as the Surface Pro, they will boot to a desktop layout if a keyboard is attached.

READ: Microsoft promises Universal apps

Cortana

Microsoft's Cortana is the equivalent to Apple's Siri and Google's Google Now. It debuted on Windows Phone 8.1. According to tech website Neowin, which apparently had access to internal Windows 10 builds, Cortana should make it to the final version of Windows 10.

It is thought Cortana will be deeply integrated into the OS, likely bringing new search capabilities. It's not clear how Cortana and Bing will co-exist on Windows 10.

Charm bar

The Charms bar, a feature ushered in by Windows 8.1, offers access to quick settings and functions like search. Although the Charms bar is considered useful for touch-enabled devices, its effect is largely lost when a mouse and keyboard are thrown into the mix.

Leaked screenshots of Windows 10 builds have shown the Charms Bar will not make it to the desktop and laptop versions of Windows 10. It might not even be included in the tablets and 2-in-1 laptops version of Windows 10. ZDNet however claimed Metro-style windows apps will get title bars with menus and Charm features.

In other words, Microsoft might simply nix the Charms bar from a dedicated position on the desktop and instead fold relevant Charms components into the title bars of apps. Developers will allegedly need to add enable Charm features for their apps.

READ: Microsoft to ditch Charms Bar

Start Menu

Teased during the Build 2014 keynote address, the Start menu that disappeared in Windows 8 is officially returning with Windows 10, according to Microsoft.

Leaks have revealed the classic Start menu will appear in the bottom-left corner of your screen. It doesn't take over the entire screen in a tile-layout as it does in Windows 8. The order of things is different from Windows 7's Start Menu. Folder shortcuts are at the top, for instance, and pinned Live Tiles are on the right side of the Start menu, where they can be resized and reordered in a gridview.

One last thing: according to a leaked video, the full screen Start menu isn't gone completely. It might still be accessible through Taskbar.

READ: The Start Menu is back

Virtual desktops

Virtual desktops is thought to be another major change in Windows 10.

It will allow you to spread your work across multiple desktops, while still remaining on one device. The idea is that you will have an improved workflow, free from clutter. Youwill likely be able to control or access the feature by clicking an icon on the left side of the taskbar, as several leaked screenshots have revealed.

READ: Windows 10 revealed in screen dump

Extras

Two German websites, called Computer Base and WinFuture, recently published about 20 screenshots that show off a leaked build of Windows 10.

Some of the changes included a notification center in the lower-right corner, as well as a Start Menu, tweaked Taskbar, and a new search icon near the Start button. There's even another icon next to the Start button that might lead to the virtual-desktop feature.

And finally, WZOR claimed that Windows 10 will focus heavily on cloud computing and even indicated a type of Chrome OS-like operating system that would require an internet connection. ZDNet also described Windows 10 as the bridge between Microsoft's past of big-bang releases and a licensing model to one focused on the cloud. That said, it's not immediately clear how deeply Windows 10 will focus on the cloud. It might just be the first step down a long road of transitions.

Keep in mind Microsoft's CEO was formerly responsible for building and running the company's computing platforms, developer tools, and cloud computing services. It's therefore safe to assume Microsoft will want to embrace cloud-computing in the near future.

Leaked videos

Check out the leaked videos below to see certain features - such as the Start menu, notification center, and virtual desktops - in action.

How much will Windows 10 Cost?

According to Indonesian news site Detik.com, which was first spotted by BGR, Andreas Diantoro, the president of Microsoft Indonesia, has announced that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 8 users.

READ: Microsoft might make Windows 10 upgrade free

Russian collective/leakers WZOR also claimed earlier this year that Microsoft is considering not charging for Windows 10.

ZDNet however, which often reports accurate Microsoft rumours, has heard the opposite: different SKUs of Windows will be offered at different prices to OEMs and consumers, and that the desktop version of Windows 10 will definitely cost something.

If that's the case then, there has been no word yet on pricing specifics.

Need to know more?

Check out Pocket-lint's Windows 10 Windows 10 and Windows 10 Threshold hubs for all the latest news about the next version of Windows.