Windows 10 isn't even out the door yet, so what better time than now to talk about its successor? Believe it or not, there's a fair bit of information on it floating around already, with its codename being particularly interesting: Redstone.
Following in the footsteps of 'Blue' and 'Threshold', Redstone is an obvious tie-in to Microsoft's purchase of Minecraft, which it snagged from Mojang last year. Redstone is an integral material in the game, used to create simple items like a map or compass as well as logic gates for building electronic devices, like a calculator or working doors.
That similarity is likely the only correlation Minecraft has with the upcoming Windows, and it's probably a good thing: a blocky Windows OS might not be too attractive.
Here's the really important news: we could see Windows Redstone in 2016. Yes, next year. This isn't hugely surprising since Microsoft has made it known in the past that it's wanted to accelerate the roll out of its Windows successors, but it does highlight one of the reasons why I think Microsoft is so happy to make Windows 10 free for the first year: A new Windows version will be out as soon as that deal expires.
At this point, it's hard to predict what Windows Redstone will look like, but given how fast Microsoft has acted during the preview of Windows 10, it seems likely that what the company even knows of Redstone today could differ greatly from what it becomes next year.
On account of Microsoft's insistence on "tiles" in lieu of a regular Start menu, I can't see that going anywhere. If anything, it might be tweaked further to look better, but it seems Microsoft is intent on making its desktop OSes have mobile-specific enhancements.
Regardless of what Redstone looks like, what's important for now is to just get Windows 10 out the door. That's expected to happen this coming summer, and based on what I've experienced during the preview, it's already on the right track to releasing as a very stable, robust OS.