Just yesterday we mentioned that rumors were now suggesting that Microsoft would be releasing a major update to Windows 8 in the form of “Windows Blue”, sometime in 2013. This would be a shift to a yearly upgrade cycle and would possibly be a free upgrade, unlike the yearly upgrades found with OS X and more inline with mobile OS upgrades.
This is a big change from the way Microsoft has previously operated. Sure, there were Service Packs in the past, but these didn’t introduce many (if any) new features, and instead were about bugs and stability. Blue is a whole new game, and while I doubt consumers will mind, several analysts feel it might be a very different situation in the enterprise world.
A fast pace like this isn’t welcome for businesses simply because it means more work for their IT departments. It takes time to test operating systems for deployment in a business, and if Microsoft is changing the OS up every year, that just adds even more work to the table. A longer release cycle just makes more sense for these kinds of consumers.
“I do think Microsoft will pick up the pace,” said Michael Silver of Gartner. “But any time Microsoft picks up the pace, it causes an issue with enterprises.” The solution, according to Gartner, would be to break up Windows. The Enterprise version could follow its own schedule and skip these upgrades like Blue, while the consumer Windows variants could continue down the annual update path.
This sentiment isn’t just mentioned by Gartner, Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy had a similar message to convey. “I think Microsoft would attempt to limit this [update schedule] by disconnecting the cadence,” Moorhead suggested. “They’ll provide faster upgrades for consumers, and treat upgrades for enterprises as they do today.”
The problem, at least in my opinion, is that this might make things easier on businesses, but harder on Microsoft. They will need to further separate Enterprise and consumer features to decide what gets skipped for Enterprise users and what stays consistent. While the dual-solution might work, it’s hard to say if Microsoft can even pull it off.
Personally, I think we need to slow things down and just wait a little bit more before we start making major guesses about how Blue will affect the direction of consumer and enterprise upgrades.
We don’t know what features Blue is bring to the table, or how these annual upgrades will work. If they are mostly UI features and other tweaks, they could certainly be OPTIONAL. Businesses that want to roll them out can, those that don’t? That’s fine, as well. Again, it’s really hard to say until we know more than just rumor about what Blue is bringing with it.
What do you think of the idea of annual upgrades based on what we know so far, interested in the idea or should Microsoft keep doing their OS releases they same way they always have?