Citing unnamed sources, Chinese tech news website Win8China says that a beta version of the operating system will become available in January of next year, and adds that the OS will sport a number of improvements, including better touchscreen support.
A mobile version of Windows 9 — presumably Windows 9 Phone — is also said to be in the works.
It is worth noting that this is not only the first information we’ve heard on the successor to Windows 8 but that it also comes from a website which has a chequered history when it comes to reporting rumors like this one.
As it is, the timeframe does at least look viable, given the reports of Microsoft moving to yearly updates for Windows (the next major update is Windows Blue, slated for later in the year). A November launch would also be smart ahead of the holiday season and would tie in with Microsoft's recent confirmation that it plans to end Windows 8 Phone support on July 9, 2014.
The operating system, Microsoft's first to support tablets and ARM processors, has been labelled as a "bridge" to Windows 9 by some analysts and has been treated with caution by enterprises, most of which seem to have adopted a "wait and see" approach to upgrading.
That said, despite many of these enterprises having not long migrated to using Windows 7, a study towards the end of last year revealed that 40% of enterprises plan to move to Windows 8 by the middle of 2013.