It's no secret Microsoft has already started working on a successor to Windows 7 -- a release often referred to as Windows 8. There have been some hints of a release in 2012, and all the usual marketing hype has been thrown around in scattered posts by employees, calling it 'revolutionary' and 'completely different' from past versions of the operating system. But for the most part details have been kept under a tightly closed lid.
Recently some new information has come to light courtesy of leaked documents obtained by Microsoft Enthusiast Francisco Martin, and re-posted by Neowin. Although we can't vouch for its authenticity, the information appears to have been presented at a Microsoft 'Ecosystem Forum' conference back in April, and includes mentions of USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0, as well as facial recognition, stereoscopic 3D, and 'instant on' booting. The latter could be seen as a response to Google's Chrome OS, allowing users to "check e-mail, sports scores, or play media" without any long delays.
Microsoft is also aiming to use sensors in Windows 8 PCs -- HID, accelerometers, proximity sensors -- working on hard drive encryption, adding GPS support to Windows 8 netbooks and laptops via the system motherboard or WWAN module, and putting a strong focus on boot time, shut down time, and battery life. You can read the leaked documents here.
Microsoft appears to be moving full steam ahead now that it finally hit the sweet spot in terms of public reception with Windows 7. Whatever functionality they end up including, we hope they take the same open approach that helped make the current release such a big success, with public betas and release candidate versions available for download. It will still be a while before any of those arrive, though.