Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer confirmed that the next version of the firm's desktop operating system Windows 8 will appear some time in 2012.
Speaking at a developers conference in Japan, Ballmer said the market can "expect to hear a lot" about Windows 8 this year and that the this would include a variety of form factors including PCs and tablets.
New interface options continued to be a theme following on from recent videos product by Microsoft's research team and widely expected to relate to Windows 8. Ballmer said 'natural language' would be a 'big area of innovation.'
Natural language in this context is short for natural language processing, also called computational linguistics, which seeks to extract meaning from the usual of normal speak, textual or spoken.
"Today on a PC, it's file open, blah, blah, blah, respond, reply, forward. I can't just say to my device, get me ready for my trip to Tokyo," Ballmer said of the limitations of current generation operating systems.
"With natural language, we're really asking ourselves the question, can we let you control your computing environment by expressing intent instead of specific commands," Ballmer added.
"You should be able to command the computer with your intent, and have it take action."
Ballmer also said that an upcoming version of the firm's smartphone-based Windows Phone operating system will offer '500 new features', without going into further detail on what those might be. However the firm is due to unveil more information on Windows Phone update codenamed Mango later on Tuesday.
The full text of Steve Ballmer's speech can be read here.