What can we expect from Windows Blue?

Ah Windows Blue, that elephant in the room. What the heck is it exactly, a whole new OS, a minor update that acts more like a service pack? We know that it is going to change the way that Microsoft does its OS updates one way or another – we just don’t officially know how.

Microsoft isn’t helping fill any gaps either, as they have pretty much kept their mouths sealed tight. Luckily, reading in between the lines tell us a few things.

There have been job leaks and even Linked In profiles that all point to the existence of Blue. We also have indicators like news from trusted Windows tech writers like Mary Jo Foley over at ZNET that Microsoft is preparing for Blue sometime later this year and will even update its core Windows 8 apps in time for the big rollout.

So we know it is coming this year, but what is it?

What is Windows Blue

Everything we know about Windows Blue is shrouded in mystery and revealed almost completely by the rumor mill.

All the recent evidence though points to Windows Blue as an update and that IS NOT Windows 9, nor is it a service pack. It is somewhere in the middle.

The idea is to bring mobile-like updates to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, all around the same time. If they follow a similar model to Android and iOS, it also likely means that Microsoft will not charge for these upgrades.

If we had to guess, the future of Windows could be like this:

  • Windows 8 – Paid Upgrade
  • Windows 8.1, 8.2, 8.x – Free Upgrades to Existing WP8 and W8 owners
  • Windows 9 – Paid upgrade
  • Windows 9.1, 9.2, 9.x – Free Upgrades to Existing WP9 and W9 owners

Really, this path makes a lot of sense for tablets and home PCs, though it could create new challenges for enterprise organizations. Microsoft isn’t foolish though, the understand the importance of the enterprise and will likely work with these businesses to ensure that these yearly refreshes don’t get in the way too much – or that they may not even be required.

Okay, so Windows Blue is more like 8.1, but what does that mean it will bring to the table?

So far we are hearing things like app updates for major services, more customization options for the new Modern UI on both the phone and desktop/tablet, and a few other minor new features.

There will also be security updates, bug fixes and other performance tweaks. Additionally, Windows Blue could see a closer unification between Windows Phone and Windows 8, including ditching the Windows Phone Store in favor of having both platforms use “Windows Store” instead.

Summing it up…

Windows Blue is a change, that much is clear. That said, it isn’t going to be a whole new OS, at least not from the sounds of it.

Is it something to be excited about? All evidence seems to point to YES.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are solid products but they have a few flaws, including Windows 8’s somewhat clunky transitions between desktop UI and modern UI.
In the past, Microsoft has had to wait several years to address big issues and feature changes for Windows, and this new model means they can get things done more effectively and give us the features we want sooner rather than later.

Will Windows Blue include features to make desktop life easier? Don’t expect start menu to return, but perhaps Microsoft could add a few features that making switching back and forth less of a hassle. We really don’t know much ‘solid’ information, but the future of Windows is starting to look pretty interesting either way you slice it.

What do you hope that Windows Blue brings to the table? Share your thoughts below.

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