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Leaked Windows 9 screenshots hint at a redesigned desktop

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Slowly but surely, we're starting to get a clearer idea of what the next version of Windows will look like. Microsoft already teased a classic-style Start Menu, while ZDNet's usually-reliable Mary Jo Foley has reported that the Charms Bar might be removed. Today, we're sifting through what might be the biggest single leak yet -- a collection of 20 screenshots from the German sites ComputerBase and WinFuture. In these images, reportedly from the "Windows Technical Preview" expected to arrive this fall, we can see not just the Start Menu, but a refined Taskbar, with a new search icon located next to the Start button.

Alongside the search button there's another new icon -- what appears to be a shortcut for the rumored virtual-desktop feature. Indeed, a few of the screenshots here show a pane along the bottom of the screen that you can use to toggle between different desktops. Finally, one of the screens includes the new notification center, which apparently lives in the System Tray in the lower-right corner. Based on the images we have here, though, it remains unclear how exactly these notifications will work.

On that note, it's worth a reminder that these images almost certainly don't represent a final version of the software -- again, not even the preview version has been released yet. In the meantime, we've asked Microsoft to confirm whether these screenshots are authentic, and will update this post if we learn more.

Update: A Microsoft rep declined to comment on the screenshots.

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