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

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.

  • 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?

  • 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...

  • $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.

  • 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 Spaseboy ( 185521 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:17PM (#42120791)

    When I report a bug to Microsoft they don't tell me to fix it myself. I'm grateful that adding new hardware to Windows is an automated process and Microsoft doesn't tell me I need to recompile the NT kernel if I want my USB camera to work. I'm particularly pleased that my integrated graphics card is supported by the OS and every application I use on it.

    That's worth money to me.

  • 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!"
  • Re:$25? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) <> 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.
  • 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...

  • Re:So... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:22PM (#42120865)

    We're renaming service packs as major releases now?

    We have Apple to thank for that.
    Showing the way to innovation again.

  • 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.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:22PM (#42120875) Homepage Journal

    most people get Windows when they buy a new PC. So for them, the buy-in cost isn't $200+, it's more like $20 or whatever HP/Dell/Lenovo currently pays Microsoft for a copy.

  • 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 gorzek ( 647352 ) <gorzek AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:34PM (#42121049) Homepage Journal

    When did you last use Linux, 10 years ago??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @03:36PM (#42121069)

    The major PC vendors have made it very difficult to NOT buy Windows 8. That's not the same thing as saying that Windows 8 is successful...

  • 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.

  • 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 ( 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 TheNinjaroach ( 878876 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:03PM (#42121423)

    When I report a bug to Microsoft they don't tell me to fix it myself.

    When I report a bug to Microsoft they don't tell me anything at all.

  • Re:Lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oGMo ( 379 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:16PM (#42121625)

    Optimus with bumblebee works just like it would in Windows. Render using the nvidia card on-demand and display using the integrated card. This is perfectly fine. There is no "screwing around" involved if you use Ubuntu or similar idiot-oriented distros.

    The switching bit is additional functionality; it's like switching in the BIOS between integrated and discrete, except you don't have to reboot. The common user is unlikely to care about this, nor is it necessary, but it's pretty nifty if you want it. Or are we going from complaining about lack of options to complaining about the existence of options?

  • 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 mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:18PM (#42121649) Homepage Journal

    I find this incredibly stupid because part of the purpose of windows is stability.

    Is that a joke, or have you simply never run any other OS? Windows is the least stable of any OS out there. Any hardware fault hoses Window while Linux will chug along without a hiccup. Plus they have a very bad habit of changing everything around with every release so you have to relearn everything. The only way I can tell one version of Windows from another is it's completely different, to the point that I had a laptop in a bar running Linux, and someone asked "which version of Windows is that?" OTOH, if you were used to Mandrake from ten years ago and switched to kubuntu you'd feel right at home. The way to tell the difference between two versions of a linux distro is the latest will be faster and have more features.

    And why would anyone upgrade Windows in the first place? I seldom see new features, never see increased speed (except that it seems that way because the registry makes sure it gets slower the more you use it), and you have to figure out where they put stuff. Often it actually loses functionality; I really miss XP's search on my W7 notebook.

    The only reason to upgrade Windows is often the newer software won't run on he older OS. I've never had that problem in Linux, and seldom in Windows.

  • by MrNiceguy_KS ( 800771 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:21PM (#42121689)

    I recently upgraded my work PC to Win8. I upped the RAM to 8 GB, but the box came with the 32-bit version of Win7. I looked into the cost of buying a copy of Win7 64-bit, compared it to the cost of Win8, and figured, "Someone here has to be first, might as well be the IT guy."

    It took me a few days to tweak, but I've figured out how to make the parts that piss me off mostly stay out of my way. I hate The Interface Formerly Known As Metro, including and especially the Start page. But since I've been using Launchy since the XP days, I just installed that and I mostly use Win8 the same way I used Win7.

    I hate the flat, two-dimensional look. Under Win7, if the keyboard and mouse are idle long enough for the display to shut off, I still have that half-second grace period to nudge the mouse and not need to punch in the password to unlock it. I hate that the calendar widgets on the lock screen and Start page will only pull calendar info from Microsoft's online calendar instead of the copy of Outlook I've got installed. But most of all, I hate having a pseudo-tablet interface pop up on my dual-screen desktop PC

    I've said it before here: 10 years ago Microsoft learned - the hard way - that putting a desktop interface on a phone doesn't work. Now they're learning - the hard way - that the opposite is also true.

  • Re:XP User here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:44PM (#42121981)

    I doubt that Apple could make a $350 MacBook any more impressive than a $350 HP laptop. The reason that the MacBook sells well, despite not having Windows, which most people are familiar with, is that it is such a beautiful machine. People are willing to get rid of Windows when they are getting a really nice machine in exchange. However, at $350, there really isn't much room to make the machine appealing. No sleek aluminium case. No solid state drive, no multi-touch touchpad, no retina display, no crazy long battery life, no custom motherboard that allows the machine to be .75 inches including screen. Basically throw out everything that makes a Mac appealing. If you're just going to have some cheap junky computer, you might as well have and OS that's familiar and runs all your old programs.

    They could easily make a $350 MacBook and still make a profit on it. The chassis is basically unchanged from previous iterations, and even if they come out with a new design there's no reason they can't use the same chassis on multiple system configurations. They already do that, actually, just that all of the configurations available are mid-high end. Given that the current version of OS/X runs perfectly well on a 2008 MacBook, there is absolutely no reason it wouldn't run on a current entry-level Intel processor. If I can run an i5 or an i7 on a MacBook, then there is absolutely no reason I can't run a Celeron on the same system without needing to change the motherboard or system design.

    Aluminum cases aren't that expensive: my Dell Vostro V130 was $400, and it's got an anodized aluminum case. Battery life is not great on it, but it's respectable, able to eke out 4h or so with aggressive power management settings. Oh, and it's got a multi-touch touchpad... pretty much all Synaptics makes these days are multi-touch devices, and it's software that limits them on Windows devices: install Linux, and holy shit! your touchpad is actually multitouch! It would actually be cheaper for Apple to put the better battery in the "low end" system because of the cost associated with running multiple production lines (also the reason that touchpads are multi-touch), and you know as well as I do that "retina display" is marketing bullshit that doesn't actually mean anything.

    The reason they don't make a $350 MacBook isn't because they can't, it's because they don't want to be associated with the low end of the market. It would hurt their image as a "high end" company, and they wouldn't be able to command such high prices on their high end equipment.

  • by autocannon ( 2494106 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @04:46PM (#42122003)

    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 their users. On the contrary, people use Windows because it works. It's only a perceived problem to their detractors.

    Windows 8 has the huge problem of them attempting to steal mobile markets while using the same OS as on the desktop. That's a huge mistake. The input devices are, and will most likely always be too different to make both appealing simultaneously.

    Windows most insurmountable advantage is business. Business uses Windows for the PCs. It's not 100% usage, but close enough for this discussion. Business is all about keeping costs down, and OS migrations are anything but that. OS upgrades cost real money as well as time and lost productivity. "Blue" is going to have a multiplying effect on that. You see it, others see it, how can Microsoft not see it?

    Even with completely FREE upgrades, business still loses by applying those. It's like Microsoft is deliberately giving enterprise users a legitimate reason to switch to any version of Linux that meets their needs. They can't underestimate that it won't happen, because those MBAs will start to shit little chickens if they see cost projections having noticeable upswings due to Microsoft's annual update.

    Lose the business (and Office dominance due to that), and Microsoft will lose the home as well. It just seems like a strategy doomed to fail, all in an attempt to copy competitors in a different market.

  • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:11PM (#42122293)

    In the OSS world, I can file a bug ticket, email a developer and get a new feature request or bug taken care of.

    that's pretty much crap in most cases, and telling people that aren't familiar with OSS is really misleading. common sense tells you that there isn't an army of software devs out there working for free waiting to fix your specific problems.

    you can get your bug fixed in the OSS world if the project owner / contributors can take time from their paying jobs, if the project if actually still supported, and if the project owner cares about your bug.

  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:00PM (#42123939) Homepage

    For enterprise I doubt it. However tough the desktop move is, moving to Linux for most Windows shops is still tougher. For small business, I suspect that Microsoft is planning on dropping the bottom third of consumer / small business.

  • 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.

  • by PlusFiveTroll ( 754249 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @12:36AM (#42126615) Homepage

    No, it means he probably knows 'how' to file a detailed bug report. Most people can't, hell, I'm not sure how many techs can even do it right. It also means he probably tests all kinds of things before submitting a report.

    Filing a bug report that says 'When I do $a, $b happens' it totally different from.

    'When I do $a, $b happens in configurations $w, $x, $y, but not $z when using components $1, $2, and $3.'

    A bug report with a detailed test case, and possible solutions (in the open source case) goes a long way.

  • by RaceProUK ( 1137575 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @08:26AM (#42128461)

    I was still getting patches for Win2K long after my old Mac became a doorstop.

    Additionally, XP is still getting security fixes 11 years after release.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"