Microsoft's Windows 9 operating system could be previewed as early as next month, it is claimed.
Redmond is planning a press conference to reveal the successor to Windows 8 on September 30, according to The Verge, citing sources close to the tech giant.
Windows 9, currently known by its codename 'Threshold', is slated for a spring 2015 release, but developers and press could get access to the OS in the autumn preview.
It is expected to feature a mini-Start menu, support for virtual desktops and separate windows for applications as Redmond tries to return to a slightly more traditional UI than that offered with 8.
Analyst firm Gartner predicts that most Windows 7 users will skip 8 entirely when extended support for 7 expires in 2020, jumping straight to Windows 9.
Research VP Stephen Kleynhans wrote in a blog post earlier this month: "We believe most organizations will do this. With this strategy, many will not eliminate Windows 7 before support ends unless they budget extra funding to do so."
Other options Gartner assessed included shifting to Windows 8 now, which Kleynhans dismissed as holding "little value", and deploying Windows 8 on all new PCs, which he deemed suitable for many firms.
Windows 7 accounted for 51.22% of all web-connected desktops in July, according to the latest figures from Net Marketshare.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 and 8.1 usage fell for the second month in a row, from 12.64% of the total in May to to 12.48% in July.
But Redmond remains confident about the OS.
A spokesman said: "Windows 8.1 is great for businesses because it is designed to deliver the experiences people will want and provide businesses with the enterprise-grade capabilities they need."
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