Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is still mum on Windows 9 as it tried to fix the widely criticized Windows 8. There is no official word on what the next-gen operating system would look like or its features. But over the past few months, we have seen plenty of reports, rumors and leaked internal documents. After the Windows 8 debacle, there are huge expectations from Windows 9. The Redmond-based company can’t afford to gamble with its next version of Windows. Let’s have a look at everything we know about Windows 9.

Windows 9

Windows 9 release date

In January, respected Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) blogger Paul Thurrott said that the software giant plans to release Windows 9 in April 2015. However, last month, prolific leaker FaiKee released internal documents showing the complete roadmap for Microsoft’s various products including Windows 9. The document said the preview version of Windows 9 will be released in the second or third quarter of 2015, meaning anytime between April and September next year. Another leaked document obtained by Myce showed the same preview release date of Q2 or Q3, 2015.

Start Menu to come with Windows 9, not the Windows 8.1 update

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) brought back the Start button with Windows 8.1, but users have been asking for a full-fledged Start Menu. Many believed that the company will introduce it with the next update to Windows 8.1. However, latest reports suggest that the much-hailed Start Menu will come back with Windows 9 next year. Sources said that Microsoft has gone back on its plans to reinstate this feature to Windows 8.1 Update 2.

Windows 9 price

How much will it cost? Perhaps nothing. That’s what Russian leaker WZOR claims. WZOR said that the Redmond-based company is considering giving away Windows 9 for free to existing users. The leaker has heard that the barebones version of the OS will be free. But you’ll have to pay for additional functionality through subscription. Notably, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is working on a cloud version called Windows 365, which is likely to be a subscription-based operating system.

A unified platform

Windows 9, also called Threshold, is likely to unify Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s various platforms including Windows Phone and RT. The company will reportedly merge all three operating systems to create a strong ecosystem that provides unified user experience across various devices and services. That means app developers will have to create apps that could run on desktop, smartphones and tablets. Its OneDrive cloud service already streamlines data across various devices.

Power management

Bruce Worthington, which heads the team working on Windows power management provided some technical details about saving power in Windows in a recent Channel 9 video. Saving power seems to be a priority for Windows 9, especially as Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s Haswell processor brings Connected Standby to Core Systems.

Cortana integration and other new features

Besides the full-fledged Start Menu, Windows 9 will reportedly have many other features. Internal documents obtained by FaiKee show that the next version will have greater emphasis on cloud services, changes to Metro interface, Windows Defender system protection and improved Windows activation. Most importantly, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s voice assistant Cortana is coming with Windows 9.