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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: Win 7 Desktop option
By alcalde on 11/30/2012 11:05:22 PM , Rating: 2
>MS wont stop you installing non windows store apps on their
>Windows 8 PCs.

MS does stop users from installing Metro apps on Windows 8 PCs. Every new feature of Windows 8 is in the new WinRT library. Developers are being pressured to move to WinRT. When they do, Windows Store becomes the only installation option. "Blue" and its new SDK is another move designed to push developers to WinRT. I wish people would stop saying "you can install desktop apps". That's fine until there aren't desktop apps. MS even attempted to disable their ultra-popular Visual Studio Express from being able to develop non-Metro apps until there was an outcry and they decided to put the ability to target the desktop back in. We've seen this same thinking on OS X:

Apple introduces OS X Store: "It's just an option; you can still install whatever you want."
Apple adds option to only allow software to be installed from OS X Store: "No big deal; it's just something someone can turn on for extra security. It's not even the default."
Apple makes it the default in OS X Mountain Lion: "It's no big deal; you can go in and turn it off when you get your Mac/after you upgrade."

One guess as to what the next step is for OS X in either the next release or the one after, especially if Microsoft gets away with Windows Store on the desktop? That option to disable quietly disappears. Some OS X users have seen the writing on the wall and at least one popular Apple blogger (who predicted all of those moves before they happened) announced he was switching to Ubuntu as a result because he knew what was coming next. Now a segment of Windows users are doing the same thing, ignoring the completely obvious pattern about what's going on here. One's an incident, two's a coincidence, three's a pattern. Metro UI registry tweak removed, WinStore lock-down, attempt to pull desktop devel from VS Express, NYT reveals Sinofsky pitched mandatory Metro to Ballmer, VP of WinPhone conference call in which he touts desktop Metro as good for WinPhone sales, now Blue? That's a pattern.

>Windows 8 RT and Phone will be (and are)closed systems, but not
>the full version of Win 8.

Blue converges Windows 8 and Windows phone both on the kernel/software side AND THE PROGRAMMING SIDE. If you write for Win8 you'll have to use Blue SDK and Blue SDK also applies to the phone. In effect, MS is forcing anyone who wants to sell Metro apps through their store - and they can't get their Metro apps onto your PC any other way - to develop for the phone too! What's being locked down are the developers themselves! They're being coerced into making every Metro app they write also runnable on a WinPhone and Tablet if they want to develop for the Metro desktop, and given Windows is a monopoly, that's somewhat of a necessity, at least for the time being. You don't see this as a problem? Microsoft store also dictates how the software must perform, including startup time of two seconds or less. Don't expect to see complex games using the WinRT library! It also excludes certain software licenses, such as GPLv3. Microsoft will have a heck of a lot more control over most of the world's PCs than it's ever had before.

>Windows 8 does not change anything compared to Windows 7 except
>giving you a start screen instead of a start menu.

Really? Have you noticed that all Metro apps run on full screen, even on a 27" monitor, for starters, and can't overlap? All because MS' goal (which I can't believe you can't see) is to make every desktop app also runnable on a smart phone - even if the developer doesn't want to?

>I dont see the issue with that. I have it, use it and I am going
>to keep it.

Two words: Stockholm Syndrome.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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