Windows Blue 101: What We Know So Far

Windows Blue 101: What We Know So Far

Windows 8 has been on the market for five months, so thoughts are turning to its successor, codenamed ‘Windows Blue’. This is what we know about it so far.

Officially Microsoft isn’t saying much. There hasn’t been a major official announcement about Windows Blue (which is the codename for the project, and probably won’t be the final name on release, especially given the potentially unpleasant association with the Windows ‘blue screen of death’). Most of what we know has been pieced together from blog posts and comments from anonymous sources. The leak of a partner build last week has excited more discussion around the topic. There are suggestions the product could be out by mid-year, though again that hasn’t been officially confirmed.

It’s an upgrade, not a major new release. The basic Windows 8 interface isn’t going away or radically changing. The leaked build suggests we’ll see some tweaks to the interface, including more options for resizing live tiles, the ability to snap Windows 8 apps next to each other (with each taking up half the screen), and potentially the ability to feature four Windows 8 apps at once (handy on a larger screen, arguably less useful on a tablet). Internet Explorer 11 is also expected to be bundled in the Blue update.

It may signal a shift to yearly upgrades. Much of the reporting around Blue suggests that it’s part of a move by Microsoft to attempt more frequent updates on a yearly cycle. In some ways, this would make sense, especially given the relatively low price for Windows 8 compared to previous upgrades; keeping new versions coming would help fund the project.

With that said, the upgrade cycle partially a question of semantics; the feature set for Windows Blue sounds more like a service pack, and those have to be issued more frequently. Microsoft’s core enterprise audience also is less likely to be keen on unscheduled updates issued on short notice. To date, Windows 8 adoption has been relatively slow.

It will impact Windows Phone Continuing down the path of using the same code core for both Windows and Windows Phone, Blue is also expected to impact phone rollouts, though the timeframe is not likely to match exactly. (Windows Phone 8 itself will officially end-of-life by mid-2014.)


  • They would be better off releasing a patch for the desktop O/S making the desktop the norm with a start menu back or at least the choice.

    People have to use third party tools to do it and I can tell you everyone around here goes to the local it shop when they buy a computer with windows 8 just so they can get the start menu back!!

    Windows 8 sales are pathetic due to this one flaw! just one!
    Wan’t more sales? return the start menu and desktop as the starting point.

  • Microsoft used to be good at realising when a particular version didn’t hit the sweet spot. Windows 98/ME became XP and then Vista became Windows 7. Can it do the same with Windows 8? The key is clearly the user interface – perhaps there should be a choice when you install it, or more features for customising it. I can see no reason to move from 7 to 8 right now, so the one after 8 needs to be good.

    • No, Windows NT became Windows 2000 which became XP and beyond

      Windows 98/ME concluded the low end path from Windows 95. (ME was only done by Microsoft reluctantly at the insistence of OEMs who wanted something new for old inventory stock).

      Aside from all that very well documented history, having multiple UIs would probably drive most systems administrators out of their minds. There are already good free or cheap third-party add-ins to bring back Windows 7 features on the Windows 8 desktop: I already have a Start Menu and resizeable Win8 apps.

          • Well I was going to address this in my original post but I wasn’t expecting a flame war.

            Since moving to a Android Ultrabook my laptop doesn’t get used anymore, so that just leaves my home theatre PC, which probably should have linux on it anyway.

            Windows 8 is a real disaster for VPNs – they are much more unreliable and unstable under it, and i have accounts with a number of different providers covering every protocol available. By extension, that makes Windows 8 a disaster for anyone who downloads torrents and wants to do so securely. With some persistance i can get a VPN to stay up for several days, but it just shouldn’t be that difficult.

            I never would have purchased a Windows 8 license if it wasn’t for this one torrent site who’s RSS feed won’t work in anything other than utorrent (well not after several days of effort for me anyway, i’ve got to start trawling and posting to their forums looking for a solution). Sure, there is a utorrent available for linux but it’s a daemon server with a web interface which make it a potential security risk.

            Windows 8 looks quite good and works OK now that i’ve got everything setup. I’ll stick with it for now but if windows decide to charge for Windows 8 SP1 (<– that’s what they’ll probably call it) I think that would be a major mistake and will see many people looking to linux.

            If they call it Windows 9 that would just be misleading, since as the article tells us, it doesn’t contain anything new, except for fixes for things that should have worked right in the first place.

          • I see your point and it is quite valid. My point was though to the 90% of Window’s users which is just your general consumer, most of these users don’t even know Linux exist.

  • Previous leaks have claimed it will be free for windows 8 purchasers, and a paid upgrade for win7.

    You can expect windows post-blue (suicide?) will be paid for windows 8 purchasers, free for windows blue purchasers.
    This is assuming microsoft can pull off a 12 month release cycle, they supposedly want to keep people upgrading by making the upgrades cheaper but more often.

  • Everybody knows you only ever buy every second (or so) release of Windows 😛

    A company should know it’s done something wrong when people buying brand new computers immediately wipe them to install an older operating system.

  • the relatively low price for Windows 8 compared to previous upgrades

    Initially low. Four months after release, its prices changed to be similar to that of Windows 7.

    I’d be interested to hear how big business customers receive the idea of yearly updates – many of them take longer than that to test and deploy a service pack.

    • it depends a lot on the upgrade process. If it’s similar to rolling out a service pack, it shouldn’t require changing the process too much – large companies will often roll out a service pack years after it’s released, but it does happen.

      If it makes large changes and re-imaging is recommended then I don’t think it’ll go down too well.

      • My concern would be if this cycle locks you into an upgrade path like SharePoint (and kinda like Windows), where if you have anything older than current version minus one, it stops being an upgrade.

        I’m all for forcing companies to update every 2 years minimum, as long as I don’t have to manage the upgrades! 🙂

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