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Windows Blue: Microsoft's Plan To Release a New Version of Windows Every Year 712

Posted by Soulskill
from the operating-systems-shouldn't-have-subscription-fees dept.
MrSeb writes "Way back in August, three months before the release of Windows 8, we learned about the existence of a project at Microsoft codenamed Blue. At the time it wasn't clear whether this was Windows 9, or some kind of interim update/service pack for Windows 8. Now, if unnamed sources are to be believed, Windows Blue is both of those things: a major update to Windows 8, and also the beginning of a major shift that will result in a major release of Windows every 12 months — just like Apple's OS X. According to these insiders, Blue will roll out mid-2013, and will be very cheap — or possibly even free, to ensure that 'Windows Blue [is] the next OS that everyone installs.' Exact details are still rather vague, but at the very least Blue will make 'UI changes' to Windows 8. The sources also indicate that the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 SDKs will be merged or standardized, to further simplify the development of cross-platform apps. Perhaps more important, though, is the shift to a 12-month release cadence. Historically, Microsoft has released a major version of Windows every few years, with the intervening periods populated with stability- and security-oriented service packs. Now it seems that Microsoft wants to move to an OS X-like system, where new and exciting features will be added on an annual basis. In turn, Microsoft will drop the price of these releases — probably to around $25, just like OS X."
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Windows Blue: Microsoft's Plan To Release a New Version of Windows Every Year

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:04PM (#42120551)

    for Windows users.

    • by Zemran (3101) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:07PM (#42120601) Homepage Journal

      It would be better if they could get one good one to work well and stuck with that but I suppose it is more about sucking as much blood as possible out of the punters...

      • by Diss Champ (934796) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:17PM (#42120789)

        Indeed, their problem is that enough people have decided that they did get one to work well enough, and only buy a new OS when they buy a new computer, that they are concerned about future OS sales. Computers are not getting 'better' as quickly as in the past to the view of the average user, and so there is less reason to buy a new one every few years. The ego upgrades are going for phones instead. To combat these factors, a strategy of convincing people somehow that upgrading their OS is something they do regularly for a nominal fee is indeed probably a good way to keep sucking blood from the users.

        • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:31PM (#42121017) Journal

          That's nice for the consumer side, but I daresay the enterprise and OEMs (who have to support said enterprises) will scream bloody murder at being pushed in that direction...

          • by localman57 (1340533) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:37PM (#42121083)
            They could go the way that Ubuntu does... say that they'll release patches for every 3rd version as long term support. The other two are consumer grade, but have shiny new features...
          • by sheehaje (240093) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:47PM (#42121205)

            I definitely agree with Enterprise shops not wanting this - unless there is some type of LTS cycle rolled in (a la Ubuntu). Usual enterprise cycles are 3 to 5 years. Nobody wants to retrain their staff every year on OS changes. Also, there are applications that don't cycle each year and would need to be retested. A lot of shops haven't even phased out Windows XP and are planning upgrades to Windows 7, not Windows 8.

            More and more I see Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot with this. They want Apple and Androids market - which is appealing because they are huge markets - but they are distancing themselves from their core strongholds. That could leave them loosing ground in all areas. Even Apple knows you don't but a tablet OS on a desktop. Microsoft has seemed intent on doing that and there still is a huge market for the desktop Market. Don't care how you slice it, spreadsheets, word processing, and content development is still all best done on a traditional desktop. I wouldn't be surprised if some linux distribution pushes to fill in the holes. Too bad Canonical is also trying for a slice of the already stuffed tablet and mobile market (face it, that's where the Unity interface has been headed) as there seems to be a looming gap that could actually make 2013 or 2014 the year of the linux desktop. No joking.

          • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:18PM (#42122431)

            It takes enterprises years to move from one release to another. Heck, I still see businesses still on XP because "it works", even though to bring a new XP install up to speed, it takes hundreds of patches.

            Enterprises would not be happy with MS, especially if a service life of a Windows release drops. It takes a lot of time for an OS to work through a company, because it takes training, security, and in some cases, legal approval for anything to be added or modified on a gold corporate image.

            MS's bread and butter is the enterprise. Honking those guys off is not a good idea.

            What I can see MS doing is splitting Windows into three releases: Server, Consumer, and Client. (This is different from editions.) Server and Client would be released on a four year cycle, while Consumer would feature all the latest bells and whistles and get updates on an annual basis. Presently, the closest it would be like would be XP Pro, and XP Media Center Edition.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by clarkn0va (807617)
          I'm still holding out for Mojave.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:39PM (#42121109)

          I can't see this working well. The masses and in particular businesses have a hard time upgrading for various reasons. It is such that they tend not to unless forced or a new computer is necessary. Manufacturers and in particular the companies designing the chipsets and selecting the chipsets for use in a particular system don't take into consideration future support. They don't provide adequate support beyond the period the system is for sale which is generally less than a year. Unlike with 100% free operating systems that are shipped with systems not dependent on proprietary drivers there is no assurance the hardware will even work with the next version of the operating system.

          ThinkPenguin's the only company whom really has a system worked out that can work well with this approach on a massive scale. They only ship free software friendly hardware so there is some assurance the hardware can be supported going forward without a commercial industry supporting it. Apple's a niche player and has similar issues with support long term as Microsoft does. While it works for the niche that they have it doesn't work well for the larger population. Apple would have an impossible time gaining mass adoption with its current approach. Trying to do with Microsoft Windows what Apple does with OS X in a niche market is never going to work well for users.

    • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:20PM (#42120839)

      No it's not a good thing. Nobody needs an upgrade of his OS every 12 months (including the people who like it). Every upgrade is a hassle and potentially creates problems. The idea is crazy and doesn't make any business sense.

      Apple upgrade their OS so often in order to make hardware appear to be outdated earlier than necessary, because they still make the majority of their money with hardware sales.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      How so?

      This is going to cause more fragmentation since not everyone will want to upgrade each and every year so support costs will go up for companies that provide Windows products.

    • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:36PM (#42121075) Homepage

      And a completely horrid thing for business users.

      Microsoft has completely lost its head. It's as if they are looking at the world around them for the first time ever and are trying to be like everyone else around them without actually understanding why they are doing what they are doing.

      Microsoft needs to understand not only its current customers, but the customers they want to have. I know this is not particularly Steve Jobsian, but Microsoft needs to understand what people want... or at LEAST what they don't want.

      Why is Microsoft a failure in the iPod business? Where to begin? Why is Microsoft a failure in the phone and tablet business? Well? It should be obvious -- people don't want what they have come to expect from Microsoft on their phones... rebooting, slowness, crashiness and vulnerability. If Microsoft EVER wanted to participate in the phone/tablet market, they first need to address the problems people have with their current OS and Office products. The missing ingredient? USER CONFIDENCE.

      In contrast, Microsoft has done well in gaming. Extremely well. I know my tiny sample of observation isn't sufficient to form a conclusion, but I can say, the Saturday after Black Friday, there were still Wii and PS3 game units for sale where I heard store people talking about how fast XBox360 disappeared. That was huge, in my opinion.

      So if Microsoft wanted to make something handheld? I'd say they should make a handheld game system. Do it up like Android. Game market online and all that... a PSP competitor. I think they'd do well. Morph that into a phone and a tablet and they have their in. But don't turn Windows into a phone or a tablet. We don't want it.

      And we don't want constant changes in the workplace.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by autocannon (2494106)

        people don't want what they have come to expect from Microsoft on their phones... rebooting, slowness, crashiness and vulnerability

        I was with you til this. Rebooting, slowness, and "crashiness" are just fallacies. Vulnerabilities aside, XP and Win7 do not generally suffer from rebooting, slowness, or "crashiness". Even Vista, once it finally booted and UAC was disabled, was a solid OS. I ran it for 2 years that way, and the only reason I upgraded was because I got a free copy of 7 Pro. (I do not have the time nor motivation to maintain an up to date linux system at home) User Confidence is not a general problem with Windows to th

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:05PM (#42120575) Journal

    We're renaming service packs as major releases now?

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:09PM (#42120649)

      it is a good thing valve has a steam client for linux

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Verunks (1000826) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:50PM (#42122041)

        it is a good thing valve has a steam client for linux

        steam was the easy part, now we need to wait till they port all games to linux but I don't think that's gonna happen anytime soon

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by batkiwi (137781) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:47PM (#42122939)

        Because ubuntu (the supported steam distro) doesn't do a release every 6 months requiring an upgrade proceedure (do-release-upgrade, a simple changing of sources.list and dist-upgrade typically results in broken packages) and yet another change to the window manager?

  • Mike, (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:08PM (#42120621) Homepage Journal

    I wanna be like Mike!

    Apple = Michael Jordan
    Windows 8 = Air Jordans
    Microsoft = little kid in the commercial

    • by Fwipp (1473271)

      This makes perfect sense - Apple gets paid to promote Windows 8, and thus Microsoft wants to buy it.

  • by thomasdz (178114) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:08PM (#42120633)

    Lovely... so it'll be like automobiles.
    You'll hear about recalls that affect Windows 2015, 2017, and 2018
    but luckily, I'm still running Windows 2014

    people in 2029 will brag about how they wish they'd bring back "classic Windows 2019, but not that crappy POS Windows 2021 that had the noise problem"

    • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:28PM (#42120961) Journal

      You'll hear about recalls that affect Windows 2015, 2017, and 2018 but luckily, I'm still running Windows 2014

      people in 2029 will brag about how they wish they'd bring back "classic Windows 2019, but not that crappy POS Windows 2021 that had the noise problem"

      You don't understand Microsoft's logic. Back when they only released an operating system every few years, they included the year in the version. Now that they will be switching to an annual release cycle, they're switching to colors, using the ROYGBIV order, which is why they are starting with blue. You see, Blue comes after 8, which comes after 7, which comes after Vista, which comes after XP, which comes after 2000, which comes after the millennium edition, which comes after 98, etc. They found that people were very confused about Windows 8 following Windows 7. It didn't fit the pattern at all. Hence, they are moving to colors. After ROYGBIV they're moving to Pantone color numbers, in order from Ballmer's least favorite Pantone to his favorite.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        I heard it was web color numbers. I was really looking forward to Windows #CD853F !
  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:09PM (#42120655)
    In the Stephen King book The Stand the virus that wiped out most of humanity was part of Project Blue.
    Seems almost fitting somehow.
  • and allow folks to disable the "tiles" thing

    or have a Command Window "charm" that can be used

  • $25? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmomjian (195858) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:15PM (#42120763) Homepage

    Apple can charge $25 because they have made money on the hardware. Hard to see how MS makes sufficient revenue from this, unless they anticipate controlling more of the hardware than they do now.

    • Re:$25? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:20PM (#42120841) Homepage Journal
      I don't know. In general people don't buy Windows Upgrades because they were so damn expensive, the only time they upgraded is when they bought a new machine. A $25 upgrade might actually have some takers and make more money.
    • Re:$25? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by afidel (530433) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:38PM (#42121099)

      OEM copies of Windows only cost about $80, and with PC's lasting about 5 years that means MS is likely to see an ~50% increase in revenue per user if the OEM price drops to near what the upgrades cost and they get a significant attach rate. For their corporate cash cows it likely means that they'll see a higher adoption of SA which will once again increase revenue. Of course this assumes they can pull it off, and actually achieve a significant adoption rate instead of just significantly fracturing the market and driving people to seek more stable alternatives.

  • New coke! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:18PM (#42120815)
    Coca Cola may have not done this on purpose when they released New Coke, but Microsoft seems to have caught on to the fact that they (Coke) doubled their sales after reintroducing original Coca Cola. Major UI changes..

    "Here is Metro, no start menu. Oh wait here's it back. We told you we listen to our customers!"
  • Microsoft sold 40 million licenses off Windows 8 already - the great success must have messed up their thinking. This success may very well be temporary - corporations will probably hold back way more this time around than even with the Win XP -> Windows 7 transition (which is far from over, XP is the second OS by usage share).

    I hope a bit of bitchslapping by the corporations (who won't upgrade to Win 8 for several years) will sober MS up somewhat and make them forget about Windows Blue.

  • Windows Blue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:21PM (#42120849)

    Of all the colors, for Microsoft to pick something associated with blue, after all the blue screens...

  • then Red, White, Black, Silver, Gold, Platinum, etc.

    Gotta catch 'em all!
  • XP User here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:22PM (#42120867)
    I use XP in a VM whenever I have to use the one in a thousand windows program so at my present rate of Windows usage I would have to upgrade every second time I use windows. What Microsoft is missing is that most people are using windows out of inertia. Places like Staples and Walmart still sell windows laptops so people buy them. If Apple changed its whole marketing approach tonight and reduced macbooks to $350 the sales of windows machines would plummet. I am not making the Mac vs Windows argument I am saying that people usually don't care; nor am I suggesting that apple drop their prices. Gamers use windows because that is where the games are, not because of some love of windows. If all the PC games moved to BeOS tomorrow then the day after tomorrow most of the gamers would move as well.

    So what MS needs to do is to find out what people really want. A good example of them not doing this would be their new tablets. Most people want enough storage to watch lots of video and some for their apps. What people didn't want was all their space taken up with MS Office on the tablet; who the hell is going to do extensive office work on those tablets? As a programmer I want tools to make my life easier. What Microsoft tries to foist upon me are tools that guide me into their suite of products such as office and SQL server. What my mother wants is a machine that is simple (like an iPad) what MS gives her is a machine that is always asking hard questions. What my mother also wants is a machine that she can't easily screw up (like an iPad). What MS give her is a machine that comes pre screwed up by the manufacturer with trialware and allows for third party crap to install itself over and over until, in the case of her browser, she has 7 inches of toolbars and one inch of browsing space.

    So until MS starts actually listening to their customers and not their internal marketing departments the only customers they are going to keep are the ones who don't bother leaving them.
  • If Microsoft doesn't change anything important. Apple releases a 'new version' of iOS almost yearly, but what changes? Other than toys, we don not know.

    Sure will keep the script kiddies busy validating their tools agains 'new versions'. Security through churn. Interesting concept.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:27PM (#42120943)
    ... If I had a horse for every time you made me blue, I'd have a house full of horse sh...oes.
  • by DontScotty (978874) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:29PM (#42120993) Homepage Journal

    Last years "Windows Blew" - so let's Blue again...

    Quality naming guys!

  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:32PM (#42121025)
    MS made this same announcement in '97 when they released win 98. The idea was similar to car model years, and the hope was that people would want to keep up appearances and buy a new model every year just like cars. This failed because of MS's inability to deliver on time, the OS was almost a year late in its release, so they abandoned that idea because it made them look bad. I wonder what will be different about it this time?
  • MS feels the heat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:37PM (#42121095)

    I recall a few years ago now on Slashdot a discussion on the topic "MS doesn't matter any more" - doesn't matter, as in you don't need to use any MS software to run your business and communicate with the outside world. They are of course still a major player in the software arena, but far from as all powerful as they were. There are plenty of alternatives, they are viable, and indeed a key reason for companies to stick to MS is because they are already with MS. New businesses that still have the choice, have an alternative.

    That was basically the argument, and mostly I agreed at the time. But it was ahead of time, it was before Android and the iPhone even.

    Now it seems to me that MS is really risking becoming just "one of the options". And probably MS feels the same. They took nearly a decade to come with a viable successor to WinXP, and in the meantime both OS-X and various Linux distros made great strides in UI design, general usability, and indeed market share.

    They completely lost control over the www - partly thanks to Firefox, Chrome, Safari and the others on the desktop, partly thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices which are pretty much all non-Microsoft devices (Windows Phone is really small compared to Android and iOS).

    They will lose control over their Word lock-in, again partly thanks to mobile devices: people do want to view and edit their documents on their tablets, which means some application running on iOS or Android. MS doesn't have such an offering yet. OpenOffice in it's various incarnations is gaining significant ground at least in Europe, and Google Docs is also a major competitor sucking people away from MS Office.

    And surely people will start thinking. "Why is my iPad working so much nicer than my desktop? Aren't there alternatives to Windows?" They see Apple's offerings in the stores. "That's nice but out of my budget, any cheaper alternatives?" They may have heard about Linux, about Ubuntu or Red Hat. "Hey, geek friend, how about that Ubuntu thing that I recently heard about? Can I still watch videos on YouTube, and edit some Word documents? Can I try it out a bit?"

    Not many people at first, sure, but there are always people curious about what's out there, and nowadays you can see there is more out there than Windows.

    MS is definitely feeling the heat of the competition. First they finally picked up development of their web browser, and made great progress there. Then after the debacle of Vista they quickly came with Win7 and now Win8. And now planning a new major release every year, that's going to be interesting. They'll have to start offering intersting features to keep people on their platform, and give people a reason to use Windows and not one of the alternatives. I'm looking forward to it.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:43PM (#42121143) Journal

    By the time you learn enough to do you job of how to deal with all the annoying changes and different bugs .... you get to do it all over again....

    Has anyone done a study on how much time/dollars are spent in dealing with such? (learning, bugs, other system hogs/user waits....)

  • by pjr.cc (760528) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:47PM (#42121199)

    Its a shame that MS seem to feel they have only one option now... "be like apple".

    Half the reason they thrive so well in corporate-enterprise-juganaut land is simply because they aren't apple and dont behave like them. A release every year is going to be an utter nightmare for a decent sized enterprise, but i guess it depends on what "next version" really means. Is it going to just an incremental update similar to what service packs used to be? In which case, the actual OS update will probably less painful, but there will be pain to be had in other places (namely licensing).

    I really wouldn't be cheering for this idea if i were in a corporate desktop support role, thats for absolute certain.

    Even given the job that i do (which falls into the systems integrator role), it doesn't sound good... whats it going to mean for certification? oh the pain.... then that comes with its own set of licensing nightmares (the SI role).

    Still, as a linux-lover, i can only say "i love where apple and MS are taking their OS's because they seem to be working very hard to make linux as attractive as possible".

  • by Maltheus (248271) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:17PM (#42121639)

    Does this mean that you have to upgrade each and every year to get the upgrade cost? Can you wait 4 years and still only pay $25 for the latest? Because if not, it doesn't sound much better than what it costs now. Sounds more like a way to charge for service packs.

    I'd actually prefer a daily rental model for Windows as I only ever use it anymore for flashing devices, turbo tax or the occasional game.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:11PM (#42125299) Journal

    2012 was toward the end of the "PC" era, when the basic software, or "operating system" of our information appliances was still updated frequently so as to make it incompatible with older devices and applications. We did actually pay for the software that did this to us.

    The rationale for this was that historically this software was very primitive, and new versions gave important improvements in utility, security and performance. By 2002 however, operating system software had become mature enough that it did not need such radical continuous improvement. It had become stable enough.

    In 2012 though the customer's need for this had long passed, software and hardware companies still clung to this old tradition because they needed their old software and hardware to be made obsolete so they could sell the same products to the same customers again.

    Sometime around 2010 consumers started becoming wise to this game. The result was a new "mobile" era of information appliances that didn't have this legacy tradition.

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