Microsoft expects to come out with the next version of Windows in 2012. Rumors are that it will be called Windows 8, although Microsoft says it has not been named yet, that it is just the next Windows. However Steve Ballmer, the head of Microsoft called it Windows 8 in a speech in Japan recently.
Microsoft says it will be a friendlier version of windows and use more natural language ways of doing work on it. They expect to integrate more abilities to let you speak to it and work with it in a more natural way.
The are expected to put these features in Bing (their search engine that has grown tremendously in the last year or two and is starting to challenge Google) and also integrate the abilities of Bing more in Windows.
Many of these big items are what we also see Google doing with their search engine and their browser Chrome and expected in the Chrome operating system which some expect to challenge windows but will be a operating system that works in the cloud (on the Internet) and is not installed on your computer.
Google has had Google Apps out for several years which work on the cloud also, you do not install them, you use them thru your Internet connection. Likewise Microsoft is moving a version of Office to the cloud to compete and it is call Office 365 and is available in beta. My experience using it is that it has a low learning curve if you already know Office and that it will offer most items people use.
The trend is toward storing and running everything on the cloud which means that programs and your data is not stored on your computer but somewhere out there on the Internet. The two major limitations I see is that if everything is on the cloud and your Internet connection fails you cannot do anything and that if the place with your applications and data has a failure the same problem and second is that if that location loses their equipment for what ever reason you are dependent on them having done backups and being able to recover quickly. However the cloud concept is growing. My online classes are taught using software in Indiana and San Jose California and to a degree I am dependent on both keeping the data back upped and secure although I do backup and download my Angel data regularly, but Cisco does not have that option for me.
We are moving thru another shift in computing as the cloud grows in use and toward more natural language devices. Another exciting time to see what man can do in developing machines.