Microsoft is planning to release a preview build of Windows 9 at a special press event on September 30, according to sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans. The date could still change, but September 30 lines up neatly with previous leaks that suggested a late-September or early-October release date for the Windows 9 technology preview. It’s still unclear exactly how many of Windows 9′s hotly anticipated features will actually make it into the September 30 release — but hopefully we’ll at least see the resurrected Start menu and Metro apps running on the Desktop. We wouldn’t be surprised if you have to wait a little longer for the consumer preview of Windows 9 before you get to play with your new Cortana digital assistant, however.
A few days ago, news leaked that Microsoft was planning to release the first public build of Windows 9 at the end of September or beginning of October. Now, sources are telling The Verge that Microsoft is planning a Windows 9 press briefing on September 30. The tech preview build of Windows 9 will likely be released at the event or shortly after. Hopefully everyone will be able to download the Windows 9 preview — just like the early public builds of Windows 8 — but there’s a chance that Microsoft will only release it to developers and professionals via TechNet and MSDN.
This technology preview of Windows 9 will contain a lot of new features, but it won’t be feature-complete. In much the same way that the first Windows 8 preview still looked a lot like Windows 7, expect the Windows 9 preview to be a Frankensteinian hodgepodge of new and old features. We would expect the new Start menu to make it into the tech preview build, and the ability to run Metro apps in a window on the Desktop, but beyond that is anyone’s guess. One of Windows 9′s larger new features — integration of Cortana — might not make the cut. You should also expect a lot of smaller changes — UI tweaks, new stock Metro apps, etc. — to pop up a couple of months later in the first Windows 9 consumer preview.
Microsoft might also use the September 30 press event to tell us about the fate of Windows RT, too, which is being integrated into Windows Phone as part of the grand unified theory of Windows.Microsoft, with its accelerated release schedule and exciting features like Cortana and virtual desktops, is clearly trying to prove that it still cares about normal (laptop/desktop) PC users. While Cortana is useful on a smartphone, I think it might be surprisingly powerful on a laptop or tablet as well. I might be getting a bit ahead of myself here, but it would be really cool if you could say “Cortana, show me all of my photos from 2012″ rather than fiddling with various filters and search boxes in Explorer. Using Cortana on a PC could be just like the voice-activated computer in Star Trek — if Microsoft does it properly, anyway, and doesn’t just half-assedly drop the Windows Phone version into Windows 9.