Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is all set to launch Windows 9 this fall, backed by a massive advertising campaign. That’s what sources inside Microsoft told notorious Russian leaker Wzor last week. Many other reports have pointed to an April 2015 release date. Microsoft seems to have sped up the development process amid the risk of alienating users.

Windows 9 Start menu image leaked

The upcoming iteration of Windows is expected to bring several new features such as Cortana, OneDrive, improved Windows activation, and Windows Defender. But the most anticipated feature of Windows 9 is the return of Start menu. After the failure of Windows 8, Microsoft has stated that it will bring back the Start menu. Earlier this year, the company showed a concept of what it would look like at its Build developer conference.

A newly leaked image of Windows 9 Start menu (via My Digital Life) shows that the software giant has mixed up elements of traditional menu with the Metro UI. The leaked image is reportedly a screenshot of Build 6.4.9788 of Windows 9. One key thing that many experts noticed is that the screenshot has Windows 8.1 Pro in the bottom corner. Then Neowin spoke to people close to Microsoft, who said that the image looks legitimate because early builds of Windows 9 still use that branding.

Windows 9

That means, technically, Windows 9 could be just an incremental update to Windows 8.1. More than a decade ago, Microsoft did the same thing with Windows 98 SE and Windows ME. Windows 9 success is critical to the Redmond-based company’s future. The company is showing more interest in cloud computing, which has forced it to revamp its entire business model.

The software giant’s product lines haven’t done as well as they were expected to. Windows 8 has received universal criticism. Microsoft entered late to the smartphone OS market, and is still struggling to establish a strong position in the marketplace. Xbox One sold decent numbers, but it was outsold by Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758)’s Play Station 4.

Can Windows 9 change the fate of Microsoft?

Anyway, as far as reports suggest, Microsoft seems to be doing the right things with Windows development. The new OS will reportedly have a different activation method to prevent piracy and problems in China, which led to the ban of Windows 8 in the world’s most populous country. Another rumored feature of Windows 9 is its capability to recognize the device it’s running on, and transform the UI accordingly. On desktop and notebook, it will have a traditional UI. But tablets and smartphones will have the Metro interface, though the underlying OS will still be Windows 9. On two-in-one devices, the interface will change depending on whether there is a keyboard attached.

Microsoft shares gained 0.40% in pre-market trading Monday to $42.26.