Preston Gralla

Is this Windows 9 Start Menu the real thing?

July 14, 2014 11:41 AM EDT

There's a screen shot circulating online that purports to show the new Windows 9 Start Menu in action. Is this really the future of Windows, or just a well-done fake?

The screen, which you can see below, looks much like the one that Microsoft showed off at its Build conference when it promised it would eventually release a new version of the Start Menu. Ever since the release of Windows 8, users have been asking that Microsoft resurrect the menu.

The screen looks much like the Start Menu in previous versions of Windows, complete with search box, recently run apps, and so on. There's also a new addition to it, what's in essence a mini-version of the Windows 8 Start screen, filled with Start screen apps.

Is it the real thing? That's tough to know. If you look down at the lower right, underneath the "Microsoft Confidential" text, you'll see that it's called Windows 8.1 Pro, and labeled as build 9788. Extreme Tech says it believes build 9788 was compiled on July 4.

The Windows 8.1 Pro watermark is puzzling because most people believe that the Start Menu won't be ressurected until Windows 9 is released. But early alphas of new versions of Windows may sometimes carry the previous version's number.

So, is it the real thing? Neowin reports that "a source close to Microsoft" says it is. Others say it's a Photoshopped fake. Right now, it's a little too early to tell. We'll likely know over the next few weeks. If there really was a build 9788 compiled on July 4, then there's a good chance that build will get leaked over the next week or two. If there's no leak, my bet is that it's a fake. If there's a leak, though this screen shot may well be the real thing.