While still a rumor, it is likely that Microsoft will release Windows 9 in April 2015 or at least around that month. The core reason for that is to move away from Windows 8 as many associate failure with it.
I would not go as far, but it appears as if Microsoft bet big on touch and mobile, a unified platform, and Windows RT, but largely ignored the company's core user base on the desktop.
A clean start could change the perception of the operating system. And while Windows 9 will still be large Windows 8.x, Microsoft may modify it in a way that satisfies desktop users but at the same time does not ignore the company's unified platform goal.
Knowing that Windows 9 is just around the corner, I'd suggested on Google Plus to extend the Windows XP deadline by two years to 2016 so that users of the operating system could comfortably update to Windows 9 right away, and do not have to update to Windows 7 or 8 first, before Windows 9 becomes available a year later.
While that won't happen, at least not to my knowledge, it appears that Microsoft has changed some Windows XP end of support policies.
The company wanted to end support for Microsoft Security Essentials previously on the day it would not offer technical assistance for Windows XP anymore. This would have meant that the remaining Windows XP users who use Microsoft Security Essentials would be without proper security software.
While it is debatable if MSE is proper security software, it would still impact users of the operating system in a negative way.
Microsoft announced yesterday that it will continue "to provide updates to [..] antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users". The new deadline is July 14, 2015, 3 months after the rumor says it will release Windows 9 to the public.
The reason for not ending support in 2014 is to help organizations -- read Enterprise and businesses, not home users -- to complete their migration.
The new deadline applies to the Enterprise products System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP as well.
Microsoft expects an increase of attacks against Windows XP Service Pack 3 systems after end of support. The same was noticed right after support for Service Pack 2 for the operating system was ended, and it is very likely that attacks will be increased as a consequence of ending support and thus not providing security patches for the system anymore.