There has certainly been a lot of mystery when it comes to the future of Windows 8, or rather “Windows Blue”. Early on, it was believed that Windows Blue would be released about a year after Windows 8 and essentially would be Windows 9.
Others felt Windows Blue was more of a “Windows 8.1”, and then we started to hear things about Windows Blue not just affecting Windows 8, but also Windows Phone and other Microsoft products. So is Blue just the biggest piece of false gossip ever or is such a thing really in the works?
Looking at two different Microsoft job listings, it seems that Windows Blue has in fact been confirmed.
The first listing for a Windows Division job listing, here’s the first paragraph from this listing:
We’re looking for an excellent, experienced SDET to join the Core Experience team in Windows Sustained Engineering (WinSE). The Core Experience features are the centerpiece of the new Windows UI, representing most of what customers touch and see in the OS, including: the start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization. Windows Blue promises to build and improve upon these aspects of the OS, enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide.
The next piece of evidence for Blue comes from a Microsoft Office Division posting, and mentions an Excel app being made for Windows Phone Blue:
As a development lead you will hire and manage a team of top-notch developers, be personally involved in designing and coding features, and work closely with PM and Test counterparts across multiple orgs to help realize the vision of building high quality excel app for Windows Phone Blue. In partnership with the Excel MX, Data Visualization and Excel Web Services team your team will be responsible to develop a common code enabling us to build a mobile app which will (1) allow users to have a consistent experience with spreadsheets across Web, Slate and Phone end while leveraging the power of the cloud (Excel Web Services, Office Client Services, SkyDrive and O365).
So Blue is the real deal, but what is it?
Is it in fact a successor to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 or more of a minor update? The answer is probably somewhere in between. With Microsoft trying to focus on a more “mobile approach”, they are probably hoping to introduce smaller updates (like Android 4.x, iOS 6.x, etc) that bring new changes but aren’t full-blown new versions of Windows.
I personally expect Windows Blue to be much more than an ordinary service pack, but again much less than a full replacement to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. More than likely, these ‘service packs’ are about new UI improvements, updates to apps and other changes. They aren’t about a full change to code or anything that dramatic.
Should consumers be worried about yearly updates? Honestly, I think they are a good idea, if Microsoft can execute the strategy properly. Technology changes quickly, so having a few new features and options that keep up with these changes is a good plan.
I sincerely hope that Microsoft ISN’T planning to charge for such features though, as I think that such an idea will backfire. If these are free and not too dramatic as to cause extra headaches for IT managers in the enterprise world, I think that Windows Blue could be a good thing for the future of Windows.
What do you think, is a yearly update plan for UI features and other “key” OS apps a good plan or not? Share your thoughts below.