The first leaks of the yet-to-be-announced Windows 9 from Microsoft have surfaced on the Internet, heralded by the arrival of a screenshot of what is supposed to be the much-loved Start Menu's comeback.

The photo was first posted by Brad Sams of Neowin, who cited anonymous sources working with Microsoft said that the leak was a legitimate photo of Build 6.4.9788 of Microsoft's operating system. The photo is widely being touted as the first image of Windows 9, even though it contains a watermark that says "Windows 8.1 Pro."

"We have spoken to a source close to Microsoft who says that this image appears to be legitimate, and that these builds inside of Microsoft still use this branding, so this is not a big deal," says Sams.

The supposed screenshot shows a fusion of Windows' classic Start Menu and live tiles and other Metro aspects of the Windows 8 user interface, which really didn't prove to be a hit among Windows users.

Judging from the comments on Sams' post, many Windows users are looking forward to the new and Metro-style Start Menu in the next iteration of Microsoft's operating system. A few, however, are not so easily convinced. The Verge's Tom Warren said on Twitter that it is most likely "a giant Photoshop," while others called it "atrocious" and a "step backwards." Leak or not, the photo holds an uncanny resemblance to the screenshot shown by Microsoft in its Build conference earlier this year.

It is unclear, though, when Microsoft plans to release the new Start Menu. Sources cited by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley say Microsoft is still working on tweaking Windows 8 to make it easier to use for those who are more used to the earlier Windows versions. The company is said to be working on a "mini" Start Menu as part of the second update to Windows 8.1, which is due to arrive in August this year.

However, the all-new Start Menu that combines elements from Windows 7, Vista and XP and the Metro UI of Windows 8 will not be released until next year. When Terry Myerson, executive vice president of unified operating system at Microsoft, flashed a screenshot of the Start Menu at Build, he said the company is planning to introduce it at the "next iteration" of Windows. Unfortunately, he did not specify if that meant the next Windows 8.1 update or the next major release of Windows, which may or may not be Windows 9.

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