My favorite Russian prognosticator, Wzor, just posted a lengthy discourse on the Russian-language Ru-Board that covers a number of Windows topics, namely that Windows 8.1 Update 2 -- widely expected as part of the August Black Tuesday batch of patches -- will mark the end of the line for Windows 8.1 updates; Windows 9 Preview will be out this fall; and Microsoft is working on new activation methods that will more closely tie a copy of Windows 9 with a specific PC.
After release of Windows 8.1 Update 2 new updates will be released, but no new features will be added to the operating system. Update 2 is the final rebuild of all SKUs
The discussion of new activation techniques mentions "problems in China" as a motivation, although it isn't clear to me if the primary problem is rampant piracy or the Chinese government's recent refusal to buy Windows 8. In an interesting turnaround, Wzor says:
Activation of products distributed via ESD-RETAIL channels will be more tightly associated with a specific PC and that activation will be done when user will log in to Microsoft Store. Activation key won't be given to user and he won't need to enter key manually.
How that will work in practice -- if, in fact, it's implemented -- brings up all sorts of vexing questions.
Installing ESD-RETAIL systems on new hardware or restoring system on the old one, will require to "detach" old installation from Microsoft Store, and only after that, it'll be possible to activate new system.
It sounds to me more like a viable approach to implementing Windows 365, rather than winning over the Chinese government. There's also a discussion about how to implement an Enterprise version authentication scheme that doesn't rely on being online or accessing Microsoft cloud services. That seems more in line with China's pronouncements (whatever their motivation) and, more important, objections that are likely to come from many countries that require localized, secure handling of sensitive data.
I don't think the folks at Microsoft are naive enough to believe that piracy in China will slow because everyone wants Windows 9. But they certainly see the writing on the wall for storing sensitive information locally, particularly in major European markets.
Finally, Wzor reassures us that Windows 9 will be announced this fall, although he didn't repeat his claim from two weeks ago that it would be announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., taking place July 13 to 17. There's still no claim, one way or the other, about the availability of a Preview or Developer's Preview of Windows 9 at WPC or during the fall -- he only talks about announcements.
If Microsoft can get Windows 9 out the door in short order -- even if it's only "the way Windows 8 should've been" for experienced Windows users -- perhaps some of the damage from Windows 8 can be mitigated. Unleashing a detailed Windows 9 announcement will kill Windows 8 sales, but that wouldn't change the status quo by much. Releasing a working Preview of Windows 9 would work wonders.
If a near-term announcement of Windows 8's demise is tied to an offer for free upgrades to Windows 9 from either Windows 7 or Windows 8 (8.1, 8.1 Update 1, 8.1 Update 2, whatever) -- including a consumer migration tool like Windows Easy Transfer or Laplink Migration Kit -- Windows might live to fight another day.
This story, "Wzor predicts demise of Windows 8, Windows 9 to arrive in the fall," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.