Leaker claims Microsoft will give away free cloud-based Windows for PCs & laptops

If the Russian leaker Wzor is on the right track, the Start menu will roll out to Windows 8.1 in the fall and there's a free Microsoft-flavored OS in the works.

Wzor, the infamous Windows leaker, took to a forum recently with claims that Microsoft is allegedly working on a prototype operating system that would not be fully functional unless it was connected online to the cloud. You better sit down, because rumor has it that some minimalistic version of this new Windows OS, which may be meant for devices with screens larger than 9 inches, could be "free."

Microsoft managed to get in a double-whammy when Pawn Stars made a Scroogled commercial calling the Chromebook "pretty much a brick" when it's not online. For good measure, Rick of Pawn Stars pointed to the Chrome logo on the laptop and said, "That means it's not a real laptop. It doesn't have Windows or Office. Without Wi-Fi, it doesn't do much at all. And when you are online, Google tracks what you do so they can sell ads." That commercial was one of Microsoft's best slams. But if the Russian leaker Wzor is on the right track, then there's allegedly a Microsoft-flavored OS in the works that seems similar to Chromebook's Chrome OS.

Here's where confusion meets even more hearsay, as the new free "Windows Cloud" OS might be Windows 9. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley suggested the "Windows Cloud" base-level version might be free for everyone, but would require a subscription to 'turn on' the full set of capabilities and features, similar to the way Microsoft requires Office on iPad users to have an Office 365 subscription to do more than just the simplest of tasks with the free version."

You likely remember the all-important Windows 8.1 update that was dubbed nothing more impressive than "Update?" If users want their machines to receive any future security or non-security updates, then Update is a required installation for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows RT 8.1. According to Wzor, there's another Windows 8.1 update rolling out in the fall; Microsoft's internal teams are supposedly squabbling over whether to call the next update to Windows 8.1 "Update 2" or "Windows 8.2."

At BUILD 2014, Microsoft confirmed that a revised Start menu was coming back to Windows. Rumor-control ran with it, debating whether that was a future update to Windows 8.1 or Windows 9. Now it seems like consumers will finally get the Start menu back in the fall update.

WinBeta published translated details from Wzor, but Wzor.net is still offline; it went dark in March, immediately after an ex-Microsoft employee was arrested for allegedly stealing trade secrets. On a Russian forum, Wzor said the arrest and subsequent tightened security "still affects the capabilities of our sources to provide and publish information."

Wzor isn't the only one taking chances, as it nearly boggles the mind to consider Microsoft might give away even a basic edition of a new OS "Windows Cloud"...at least on any device with a screen larger than nine inches. If Microsoft wants to compete with Google, then it's probably wise. No matter how good the Scroogled commercial slammed Google, a Redmond-flavored copy of such a free OS also seems somewhat like Microsoft shot itself in the foot...again.

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