Talking tech since 2003

The Russian hacker group known as WZOR claims to have some inside info on Microsoft’s forthcoming updates to Windows 8.1, not to mention Windows 9. The group has leaked that info online, and, if true, Microsoft’s plans for the long-running OS could make some very interesting changes to the way it’s traditionally worked.

According to a post on tech-site Myce, WZOR says that Windows 8.1 Update 2—which may simply be called Windows 8.2, because let’s just have fun with numbers—might hit before the year is up. The update will supposedly bring with it what Microsoft had teased at its Build conference a few weeks ago—namely, the much-heralded return of the Start Menu/button combo that’s gone missing from the OS since the change from Windows 7 to 8.

As for Windows 9, that, too, will sport the Start Menu (and, I bet, every other iteration of Windows from now until the end of time), but may also pack some more changes. The post says that 9 could offer up the “next generation of the Metro interface,” though what exactly that might entail isn’t clear as of yet.

The most interesting tidbit relates to something called “Windows Cloud.” The leaks from WZOR say that, with the release of Windows 9, Microsoft will offer up “a prototype operating system where the client software will be free to download and additional functionality requires a subscription.” To make full use of Windows Cloud, they say, a user would need to be connected to the Internet and pay a subscription, but otherwise the free OS would give basic usability features.

Windows 9 and Windows Cloud? A free-to-download but subscription-based OS?

Microsoft asking users to pay a subscription or full features wouldn’t be anything new. The current version of Office Suite is subscription based, and when offered by businesses or organizations that pay for bulk subscriptions, it’s not bad. But I have to wonder how a subscription-based OS would work for home Windows users. Perhaps Windows 9 Home will come with a single payment, while a more fully-featured Windows 9 Business—armed with Windows Cloud—will require the subscription.

Whatever all this is, I hope that Microsoft makes the right decision for its longtime users. Subscription-based models have some positives, but it’s tough not to feel like companies are trying to nickel-and-dime its customers by making them pay every month for products that work more or less the same.

How much would you pay for a subscription OS? And what kind of services and perks would you expect in return?

[Source: Myce, via BGR]

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