18 Feb 2013

Microsoft Confirms Forthcoming Windows Blue

It has been known for quite a long time that Windows was planning a low cost annual upgrade cycle to the Windows and Windows Phone OS, with the project supposedly having a code-name of Windows Blue. Now, we have the first official mention of Windows Blue via a job posting on Microsoft’s careers site.

What is Windows Blue?

With Windows 8 released just a couple of month’s back, Microsoft is now preparing the next generation Windows client. Microsoft plans to adopt a standardized approach across Windows and Windows Phone in an effort to provide more regular updates to consumers. This project is known as Windows Blue.

Originally uncovered by ZDNet, the update will bring changes in the UI and alterations to the entire platform and pricing. Microsoft is trying to make Windows Blue the next OS that everyone installs. The approach is a very simplistic one, Microsoft will price its next Windows release at an extremely low cost (maybe even free) to ensure users upgrade. Once Windows Blue is released, the Windows SDK will be updated to support the new release and Microsoft will stop accepting apps that are built specifically for Windows 8, pushing developers to create apps for Blue. Windows 8 apps will continue to run on Blue despite the planned SDK changes.

The Verge also goes on to say that a user will need a genuine copy of Windows to upgrade to Windows Blue. Built-in apps and the Windows Store will cease functioning if a copy is upgraded that is pirated. Sources also point that Microsoft will be likely to keep the Windows 8 name for the foreseeable future, despite the Windows Blue update. A big part of Windows Blue is the push towards yearly updates for Microsoft’s OS. Microsoft will kick off an annual upgrade cycle for Windows that is designed to make it more competitive against rival platforms from Apple and Google.

The job posting is for a software development engineer who will join the "Core Experience Team" to work on "most of what customers touch and see in the OS." The first paragraph of the listing reads -

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.

By the sound of the description it looks like Windows Blue will focus mainly on UI and how users interact with their computers rather than under-the-hood changes. Windows Blue is expected to debut in mid-2013, so it is only a matter of time before which we will find out how good the upgrade is at smoothing out any of Windows 8 rough edges.

Apple has enjoyed great success in this annual upgrade arena, gradually adding new features to Mac OS X every year, through its feline-themed updates. Google too is having a good time with the annual Android upgrades, bringing new desserts to the table. Will Microsoft have similar success with Windows Blue? Only time will tell.

Update: The Microsoft Career's website no longer displays the job with a message - This Job is no Longer Available.

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