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New version will bring the UI inline with Windows Phone

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system was a bold and risky gambit, which traded familiarity for an innovative new graphically rich (some say too graphically rich) user interface.  Now the veteran operating system maker is eyeing more ambitious changes, notably a shift to an Apple, Inc. (AAPL)-like track of more frequent (perhaps annual) operating system releases.

I. Windows Blue to Land in 2013?

Originally thought to be a service pack, sources at Microsoft have been spilling word of an upcoming release called Windows "Blue" (perhaps a code-name) to ZDNet and The Verge in recent months.

According to the latest rumors, the 2013 release will be inexpensive or perhaps free, to incentivize upgrades.  And it will be a full operating system upgrade.  In this regard, the new development cycle Microsoft is moving towards closely resembles Apple's -- frequent, cheap operating system upgrades.

Microsoft is also planning a move that may shock and upset some developers -- it will reportedly release a new version of its SDK for Windows Blue, and at that point will stop accepting Windows Store apps built on the old Windows 8 SDK.  Again, this choice is a calculated tactic on Microsoft's part to push developers and users to embrace the new platform.

The new OS will also shift Microsoft's position regarding leniency for users upgrading from pirate versions.  With Blue, if you upgrade from a pirated copy of Windows 8, even if you bought a legitimate copy your Windows Store and the built-in-apps will still be bricked.

Windows Blue
[Image Source: NeoWin]

According to ZDNet, the term "Windows 9" has begun to creep into text in Microsoft employee postings, suggesting Microsoft may official dub the upcoming OS Windows 9, when it hits release next year.

Another report from Neowin suggests that the new operating system will move Windows 8 to using smaller Live Tiles, similar to those in Windows Phone 8.  This would seem to agree with The Verge's sources who suggest Windows Blue/Windows 9 will be part of an effort to complete the transition of Windows Phone and Windows (PC) into a single code-base and consistent user interface.  As part of this effort, Windows Phone may receive a corresponding "Blue" update, as well.

II. Are Windows Users Ready for Another Big Shift?

The news of the big shift in release cycles and upcoming new 2013 Windows release comes on the heels of Microsoft's first report on the health of Windows 8 sales.

In its release Microsoft announced that it had moved 40 million licenses in its first month of sales, despite no longer offering the free upgrades for purchasers who bought machines in the months leading up to the release (as it did with Windows 7).

Of course, critics will be quick to point that Microsoft reduced upgrade fees (albeit charging more of them), did not disclose its revenue associated with the upgrades, and did not disclose how many of its licenses sold to OEMs were resold.

Apple store NYC
Will Windows users embrace an Apple-like release schedule? [Image Source: Double DT]
Nonetheless, it appears Windows 8 wasn't the complete disaster some doomsayers predicted.  It should be interesting whether Microsoft's next big shift at least receives as warm a welcome as Windows 8.

Sources: ZDNet, The Verge, NeoWin

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RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By Vinas on 11/29/2012 3:26:38 PM , Rating: 3
Nobody would be running windows 8 if it wasn't $40. Heck a lot of folks got it for $15 with a coupon. Make no mistake, Windows 8 is not a success. It's just cheap.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By ppardee on 11/29/2012 4:37:25 PM , Rating: 2
So its your opinion that people who were perfectly happy with Windows Vista and Windows 7 would be willing to shell out $40 for something they had no use for but decided to buy because it was only $40 instead of $99/$199?

To paraphrase, you say that all Windows 8 users are women?

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By gladiatorua on 11/29/2012 7:06:26 PM , Rating: 3
Have you ever seen comments like "Steam sales ate all my money"? From mostly male audience.
People will upgrade to new shiny thing for $40. And there is an app store. With popularity of smartphones it's a good incentive to upgrade. For only $40.
And the share of tech-savvy and responsible consumers that tried beta or even pirated for a bit and saw some of the problems and potential implications of new Windows ideas is insignificant.
So upgrading is very reasonable. Not very good, but reasonable.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By V-Money on 11/29/2012 11:11:51 PM , Rating: 3
I did. Win7 was fine for all of my needs, but 40 bucks for the upgrade and not having to worry about it for years, why not. There is no way in hell I would have spent 200 bucks for Win8, but for 40 bucks I didn't mind. I actually kind of like the upgrade performance and stylewise, although admittedly I still use the classic desktop with the start bar.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By Sazabi19 on 11/30/2012 8:47:58 AM , Rating: 1
That is exactly what I did. I loved my Win 7 64 Ultimate but wanted to try Win 8 and see if it really sucked as much as I thought. Turns out it didn't, but I still have a few small problems with it, all of which I live with. The great part about it though, is that being able to use the key to active a Win 7 Pro build on a machine. Win 7 Pro x64 for $40? Yes please. I see nothing great about Win 8 over 7 accept (from what I personally use) boot times. I have 12 gigs of RAM, never noticed 7 eating up tons of RAM, always had enough. Ever try to pull up task manager? Guess what you HAVE to have open when you want to access that? Desktop. No Metro app for it, opens desktop and then task manager. If this was still $100-$200 for an upgrade and $200-$400 for a full version I wouldn't have touched it with a stick. I always get full versions of my OS (OEM/system builder). I have a feeling unless its $40 or below I won't go any father either. I may be on 7 for a while if this trend continues. Hell I have several things I can't get to work currently, java based games mind you, but stuff I can no longer access on my rig since I moved to 8. My Steam games however still work, the only reason I've yet to roll back to 7. Also, with Windows 8 Start Menu it helps. Get Aero back, boot straight to Desktop, and get my Start menu back, yes it is important to me, not everyone I know. Owned every Win OS since XP, next iteration may change that cycle.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By Mr Perfect on 11/30/2012 10:34:58 AM , Rating: 2
Someone else mentioned that 8 Pro keys work as 7 Pro keys. You can just plug a Windows 8 Pro key into a bare-metal Windows 7 DVD instal and it accepts it? That's pretty sweet.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By Sazabi19 on 11/30/2012 11:44:20 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure now. I read a link someone posted above and it says only OEM versions can do this, it seems as though a call to MS may also have to be done. I would do more research before I bought a key to downgrade to 7. You may just get stuck with 8 that way.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By Chadder007 on 11/29/2012 7:21:48 PM , Rating: 3
I'd like to know how many actual "Activations" have been done, as Microsoft is counting the licenses sold to OEMs also that have products shipped.

RE: In unrelated Microsoft news
By craniumbox on 11/29/2012 11:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
So does that go the same for osx?

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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