The Chinese Government infamously announced recently that they have banned the use of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 on Government PC's due to the cloud/Modern UI integration. While it may not sound like a big deal on the surface, Microsoft are currently panicking regarding the whole ordeal, and are currently reconsidering a number of plans with Windows 9.
We reported on the issue yesterday, but have since found more information regarding the matter. Since the announcement, Microsoft has already made drastic changes to the way employees at Microsoft access test builds. Instead of the builds being freely accessible via Microsoft CorpNet, an employee is required to request a new build which is personally assigned to them, this change will attempt to minimize leaks dramatically.
These changes are in effect in China and Russia too, after the announcement of the ban Microsoft has limited test build distribution for employees at Microsoft China and some in Microsoft Russia. This means Microsoft employees in China can't even request new builds. Things aren't looking too great right now at Microsoft headquarters.
This is all to do with the ban of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 in China. It has knocked Microsoft off their feet, and they are currently considering changing their plans regarding Windows 9. So far, the rumors claim that the ban has already put the original release date of Windows 9 in jeopardy, and Microsoft could be planning to make even more drastic changes to one of its SKU's.
Mary Jo Foley has proclaimed that Microsoft will release Windows 9 in three different variants, a normal traditional SKU, a touch based SKU and an Enterprise Edition SKU. We don't know much about the first two SKU's, but rumors are claiming that the Enterprise Edition of Windows 9 will be the one that is hit with Microsoft's drastic decision making the most.
According to WZOR, Windows 9 Enterprise Edition could potentially see the removal of cloud-based integration within the operating system, along with the ability to completely disable the Modern UI 2.0.
So it's all very doom and gloom with the Windows 9 development cycle right now, hopefully Microsoft will officially announce something soon. Until then, we ask you to take what you've read here with a grain of salt considering this is a massive rumor and could definitely be false.
In other news, Windows 8.1 Update 2 is set to hit RTM Escrow next week, meaning the update is almost finished. The update was originally set to include the Start Menu, but has been rumored to have been held back for Windows 9, probably due to the whole ban fiasco in China. One of the members at WZOR claim to have seen a build of Windows 8.1 Update 2, and claim it has a very 'interesting' start button.