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Alleged screenshots leak of the next Windows

An apparent leak of what Microsoft may distribute as its Windows Threshold Enterprise Tech Preview offers a snapshot of the next version of Windows.

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Here is a screenshot of what appears to be a leaked build of Windows Threshold. Courtesy of ComputerBase.de

Two German sites, ComputerBase and WinFuture, posted 20 screenshots on Thursday of what looks to be a leaked build of Windows 9, aka "Threshold," that Microsoft recently distributed to its partners.

The screenshots of what is alleged to be Threshold Build 9834 show off a number of features, some of which Microsoft officials have said to expect in the next major Windows release, and some of which tipsters have said are in the works.

As Microsoft execs indicated at the Build conference in April, there are a new "mini" Start menu and the ability to run Metro-Style/Modern apps in windows on the Desktop. As tipsters have told us, there also are the new virtualized desktops capability, a notification center and a mechanism that will allow testers to weigh in on features and functionality that Microsoft will be providing via regular updates to Threshold.

But there are some features that aren't there, or at least aren't fully there, yet -- which is to be expected, given this alleged partner build is still a fairly early one (and possibly the same one that Microsoft plans to distribute as its coming public Enterprise Tech Preview). The browser included in the leaked build is Internet Explorer 11, for example, rather than a more recent version.

The Charms bar is another example of a feature that's still in flux. While my tipsters have said the Threshold team was (and still is) leaning toward eliminating the Charms bar altogether from Threshold, the Charms are likely to still be part of the Threshold Enterprise Tech Preview that Microsoft is expected to make available late this month or in early October, my sources say. In part, that decision is due to the fact that app vendors haven't yet incorporated some of the Charms functionality, like printing and sharing, directly into their apps.

There is code in the updated Windows Store app in the leaked build that shows how a drop-down menu including Charms functionality (Search, Share, Play) might be designed to work, however.

By the time Threshold debuts in final form in spring 2015, the Charms bar is still likely to be eliminated in most, if not all, SKUs, I still am hearing -- depending ultimately on user feedback.

The Enterprise Technical Preview, as its name indicates, is for enterprise users who live primarily in the Desktop. There's supposedly another preview coming, my tipsters have said: a more consumer-focused one that will show off what Microsoft has built for phone and tablet users. That test version is looking like a January or Februrary 2015 deliverable, tipsters have said.

In looking at these screenshots, it's key to remember that the feature set of Threshold is still very much a work in progress. The Threshold team is in the midst of feature reviews, my sources say, where it's decided what will and will not be part of the public previews of Threshold. That means just because a feature does or doesn't end up in public test builds of Threshold doesn't mean that feature will (or won't) make it into the final Windows Threshold release.

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Another alleged screenshot of Windows Threshold. Courtesy of ComputerBase.de

This story originally posted as "Windows Threshold screenshot leaks: What's there, what's not" on ZDNet.