Microsoft has begun inviting reporters to an event concerning "what's next for Windows." The invitations started going out on Monday, and almost certainly pertain to a preview of Windows 9.
It doesn't take Nostradamus to connect the dots.
Microsoft described the event, to be held on Sept. 30, as related to "what's next for Windows [including] information geared toward technical and enterprise customers," according to a company spokeswoman.
Microsoft won't confirm its agenda, but all conventional wisdom points to some type of preview of Windows 9, also known as Threshold. It's not clear, however, if Microsoft will be releasing new Windows code, as has been reported. It's conceivable that Microsoft could show off a working version of Windows 9, but withhold a consumer preview for a later date.
What is known, however, is that some build of Windows 9 has been provided to hardware partners, as details have steadily leaked over the past few weeks. The most recent reveal tells us that Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, will be included inside the new OS. Other rumored features include a notifications center, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense, and a variety of PC-centric tweaks like virtual desktops and the ability to eliminate the Start page entirely in favor of a Start menu.
Following the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has steadily walked away from its "Metro" design motif, slowly phasing out the large Live Tiles of Windows 8 in favor of something a little more in line with Windows 7. Windows 9 supposedly will take that even further, making the Live Tiles a component of the Start menu. Microsoft has also made clear that Windows and Windows Phone are on a convergence path; the new notifications center and porting Cortana to Windows are proof of that.
The fact that the event invite mentions enterprise customers may be good news for IT administrators. Perhaps their needs will be addressed first, with enterprise versions of Windows receiving a more stripped-down interface. But that's just speculation on our part. We've been invited to the Sept. 30 event, and we'll report all the details that Microsoft is ready to share.