A simple question asked on a social media site halfway around the world might have revealed more about Microsoft's new Windows operating system than the company intended. Microsoft China could possibly have tipped the company’s hand recently in a post on Chinese social network Weibo when it asked, "Microsoft's latest OS Windows 9 is coming soon, do you think the Start menu at the left bottom will make a comeback?"

The question was accompanied by a graphic depiction of what’s assumed to be the logo for the new OS, a numeral 9 formed by a series of Windows tiles.

The words "coming soon" were the only ones necessary to fire speculation about when Windows 9 will be released and what its features will be.

Rebounding From 8

Early reports seemed to indicate that Microsoft’s focus might be on design changes to make Windows 9, which is expected to appeal to mobile users, equally suited to traditional PC users. ZDNet reported that Microsoft will remove the Charms sidebar from Windows for the new OS release, among other tweaks.

The new OS will follow on the mixed reception given to Windows 8, which tried to cater to both desktop and mobile users and ended up pleasing neither. Given that an update to Windows 8 is unlikely, Windows 9 might be on a fast track toward a release date.

The consensus is that many observers expect Windows 9 to be made available next April in PCs, laptops, tablets and phones. According to a leaked document obtained my Myce.com, a preview version of the new OS is scheduled for release around the second or third quarter of 2015.

Preview Coming Even Sooner?

Following Myce.com’s report, tech news site The Verge reported that a preview version of Windows 9 will be unveiled at the end of this month.

The document uncovered by The Verge outlined a number of items in the new OS, including changes to its user interface. Windows 9 also will apparently include Windows Defender, OneDrive, improved Windows activation and Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1′s personal assistant.

Other outlets have been busy digging up tidbits of what Windows 9 will and won’t contain. Winbeta reported that Windows 9 won’t include the Charms bar, the pop-in menu that contains buttons for searching, sharing and other functions.

Winbeta reported that Microsoft might preview Windows 9’s ARM processor in the early part of 2015, using the preview to show off ARM-running devices such as the Surface and Surface 2 tablets, as well as the Windows Phone.

With little information circulating about the cost of the new operating system, some have speculated that Windows 9 might be made available for a nominal cost for users who are upgrading from a previous OS. Myce.com reported that users who upgrade from Windows 8.1 will pay no more than $20 for Windows 9.