Fall launch will likely land near launch of desktop twin

Microsoft's upcoming Windows Blue ups the ante on the company's new touch-friendly direction, merging the APIs of Windows and Windows Phone more tightly.  In Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, both OSes had similar styles, but were somewhat different. With Windows Phone Blue and Windows Blue, both OSes are expected to have nearly identical live tiles, along with very similar settings menus.

The big question is when will these updates land.

Previous leaks had pointed to sometime in mid-to-late 2013.  A new job posting spills the beans on Windows Phone Blue's tentative release window, commenting:

This is a great time to join as we’re completing our current release are getting ready for our next release targeting the holiday of this year and we’re chartered with keeping the momentum for Windows Phone by bringing new killer devices and delightful user experiences.

Windows Blue is expected to land somewhat earlier, in the late summer.  ZDNet's Windows correspondent, Mary Jo Foley, says that she expects Microsoft to launch two updates/bugfixes to Windows Phone 8 (dubbed internally GDR2 and GDR3) before Windows Phone Blue lands this fall.

Windows Phone Blue is expected to support 1080p.  Despite that, there's expected to be a full upgrade path for Windows Phone 8 users, unlike Windows Phone 7 users, who were left out in the cold with WP7 bump.
HTC Windows Phone 8X
Windows Phone 8 devices are expected to be upgradable to Windows Phone "Blue".

The release may give handset makers like Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) reason to pause in releasing new high-end handsets (Nokia recently aired a number of lower end models).  That could exacerbate the softness in Windows Phone sales, particularly with hot models like HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498HTC One and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930Galaxy S IV on sale or soon going on sale.

Windows Phone appears to be on a year development cycle.  Windows reportedly is switching over to a shorter 9-month cycle, though, similar to Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) computer operating system approach.  The frequent releases are expected to be cheaper than past editions of Windows, again following the precedent set by Apple, who releases a new version of OS X virtually every year.

Windows Blue notably isn't expected to bring back the "Start" button, a perpetual criticism of the Windows 8 UI.

Sources: Microsoft, ZDNet

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