Microsoft will release a free always-online version of Windows entitled Windows Cloud, it has been reported.
Russian leaker Wzor, who previously accurately revealed the Windows 8.1 update before its official announcement, claims that the Windows Cloud operating system will provide full functionality while connected to the internet (via WinBeta).
When disconnected, the OS will still provide some limited functions, similar to the existing Windows Starter platform.
Wzor added that Windows Cloud may be launched as part of Windows 9 or 10, suggesting that Windows 9 itself may be offered for free, partly subsidised by advertising delivered through Microsoft’s integrated search engine Bing, and that Windows 10 may be a “full cloud-based operating system”.
“[But,] the truth is not clear how it will be function offline and without subscription services,” Wzor added.
Elements of Windows Cloud may also be added to Windows 8 as part of the upcoming (and so far unconfirmed) Windows 8.2 update, Wzor was said to hypothesise.
If Microsoft were to provide an operating system dependent on an always-online connection, it may draw yet more attention to its competition with Google, with Google’s Chrome OS delivering a cheaper operating system driven by internet connectivity.
Microsoft initially announced its Xbox One games console would require an always-online connection, but later removed this requirement following widespread criticism.
Microsoft refused to comment on the rumours.