What if Windows Blue isn’t an update, but instead a whole new version of Windows?

A few days ago I reported that at least one analyst thought that a 7-inch Windows tablet would likely happen sometime after the Blue update. This followed previous rumors and even my own thoughts about how it just made sense that Microsoft would start targeting the lower-end market sometime after the release of Blue.

The way I (and many other tech writers) took it was that Windows Blue would allow optimization to the existing Windows 8 that would make it play nicely with these smaller screens. Beyond that though, Windows Blue would also provide new features for all sorts of different sizes and types of devices.

This is pretty much the general consensus out there among tech writers: Windows Blue is essentially Windows 8.1.

Apparently that’s not the only opinion floating around out there on the web. According to PC Mag’s Tim Bajarin, Windows Blue might not be a special update to Windows 8 and Windows RT – it might basically be a new, slimmed down SKU.

The idea that he states is that Windows Blue is a version of Windows 8/RT designed to run on 7 to 11.1-inch screens. He further states it will come with Office in most versions under 10-inches and that it will offer Windows app backwards compatibility. He doesn’t say for sure, but I think he means Windows Store apps.

He really doesn’t indicate how it would be different from RT or Blue, other than it would work with smaller screen devices.

I can’t say I agree with the idea of Windows Blue as an SKU. First, it goes against most of the rumors we have heard. So far, almost everything has pointed to Windows Blue as an upgrade for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 that brings a few new features and possibly even combines a few aspects like Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.

If it is just a new version of Windows 8, that means all the gossip about its connection to Windows Phone 8 is false, right? Not necessarily.

Again, I’m not agreeing with the idea that Windows Blue is just the small-screen version of Windows 8 and RT, but IF it was, I have a theory on how that could work.

Windows Blue – For phones and small-form tablets

Microsoft has indicated that Windows Phone 8 will have an upgrade path forward. What if Windows Blue is in fact that upgrade path? Windows Blue could remove the desktop, since it wouldn’t play nicely on 7 and 8-inch tablets. It would instead be a pure Modern UI experience without the need to hop back and forth between the desktop.

That includes the existence of a Modern UI Office app. If this were true, there would be no need to keep Windows Phone and Windows RT separate anymore. Windows Blue would fill in the gap, and would play nicely with x86 and ARM hardware.

Eventually, Windows RT would be dropped altogether, or perhaps Windows RT early adapters would have the choice of ditching the desktop and moving to Windows Blue.

Why I think it won’t happen.

It is an intriguing idea, but Windows customers are confused enough. Windows 8 and its various SKUs, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8 – adding Windows Blue as yet another ‘version’ might cause more harm than help.

I like the idea of Windows Phone and Windows RT coming together in some way, but I think it is too soon. Maybe with Windows 9 in a few years it could happen.

Still, we don’t know until Microsoft gives us more details. Perhaps Bajarin is right and Windows Blue is just a low-cost special version of Windows.

Honestly though, my bet is on Windows Blue simply being a cross-platform upgrade for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and a few other Microsoft products — like we’ve being hearing for a while now. What do you think, could Windows Blue be some kind of special new version of Windows 8 and not an upgrade to Windows devices after all?

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