Steve Ballmer has said to expect the "next generation" of Windows next year.
Microsoft's CEO made the remarks at a developer's conference in Japan, finally using the name "Windows 8" and suggesting there will be a Windows release next year.
"We're obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows," he said in the speech.
He said 350 million Windows 7 PCs will sell this year, and touted the new features and interface, but said more was yet to come. "As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming," he said.
"As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8," he added. "Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors."
Microsoft executives have previously avoided using the name Windows 8. Windows chief Steve Sinofsky refused to say which Windows he was demoing when showing off an ARM version at CES in January. "I didn't say Windows 8, I said the next generation of Windows," he said.
Indeed, despite Ballmer's remarks, Microsoft still appears to prefer to keep details about the next Windows release vague, with a spokesperson suggesting to ZDNet that the CEO made a "mis-statement".
"To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows,” the spokesperson added.
Microsoft told PC Pro: "We have nothing further to share at this time."
Why spend on Bing and Skype?
Ballmer also attempted to explain why Microsoft shelled out $8.5 billion on Skype.
"Technology, information technology, the most fundamental thing we do is help people communicate, which is why we continue to drive forward with products like Outlook and Lync, and also, frankly, why we made the decision to acquire Skype," he said.
"Skype is the most popular software on the planet for people who want to do real-time video connection, in addition to being very important, in helping people do voice and other real time communication," he added.
He further explained why Microsoft is battling Google in the search market: it's for the research into natural, easy-to-use computing.
"We don't learn special commands to use Bing or Google. You simply type, and the computer tries, or the phone tries to give you back some links that may be relevant," he said. "This notion of natural language will be a breakthrough in which we are investing."
He added: "I get asked a lot, why do you lose money? Why are you so serious about Bing? It's because Bing is not just a search engine. It's key to opening up the world of natural language."
UPDATE: Microsoft has since issued a retractraction in regard to Ballmer's statements. "It appears there was a misstatement. ...To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.