Rumors hit the web that Microsoft is planning to introduce a whole new activation system with the launch of Windows 9. Russian leaker WZor claims Windows 9 will be announced this fall with a massive advertising budget that will highlight the new Start Menu. The source also claims that Windows 8.1 Update 2 will be the last major update for Windows 8.x, no new features will be added to the OS after Update 2 so it's unclear if Windows 8.x users will get the new Start Menu.
BetaNews writes the activation system is being redeveloped due to issues Microsoft is facing in China. Buyers of the retail version of Windows will reportedly be required to link their Windows license more tightly than ever to a specific PC by logging into the Microsoft Store. The source claims the traditional activation key will disappear and explains the license will be linked to the specific PC configuration until it's detached from the Microsoft Store:
Installing ESD-RETAIL systems on new hardware or restoring system on the old one, will require to "detach" old installation from Microsoft Store, and only after that, it’ll be possible to activate new system.
As you know, at the Microsoft Store could be more than one license or product, so it is necessary to take into account that the data of the license holder (an address, credit card numbers, etc.) will be stored on Microsoft’s servers. If someone won’t detach previously activated system, and same distribution will be activated on 2-3 PCs, while only one license was bought, after three days activation will be cancelled till problems with license will be solved. User will be prompted to purchase missing license or "detach" extra system if he wants to further use a product.
As always, these rumors are unconfirmed so take them with a pitch of salt.