In the near future Microsoft is going to release the second update for Windows 8.1. Even though it continues to work on this update the focus at Redmond seems to be at the next iteration of Windows, codenamed Threshold, and believed to be branded Windows 9 when it finally hits shelves next year. A new report published today claims that it is possible for Microsoft to go ahead with a Windows 9 public preview release in the last few months of this year.

Before that happens though the company is likely going to release the second and final update for Windows 8.1. Rumor has it that some of the big changes that were first coming with Windows 8.1’s second update will now come with Threshold, leaving the update with user interface tweaks, performance and stability improvements as well as bug fixes.

One such big change is the much awaited return of the Start Menu. Microsoft had initially planned to bring back the Start Menu with the upcoming Windows 8.1 update but now it is holding off until Threshold.

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet hears from sources that Microsoft will try to make Windows 9 more appealing to Windows 7 users, particularly those users who primarily use their Windows PC with a mouse and keyboard. Threshold or Windows 9 will “look and work differently” based on the type of hardware. This means that on devices without touchscreens Windows 9 will put the Desktop front and center, whereas in hybrid and all-touch devices the spotlight will be on Windowed mode and Metro-Style mode.

It is also claimed that Windows 8.1 Update 2 is going to be released as part of the August Patch Tuesday, Microsoft isn’t expected to delay the release. The company is said to be “done” with Windows 8.x and is now focusing all of its energies on Windows 9, with the plan being to differentiate it as much as possible from Windows 8, which some have branded as a flop.

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