Rumor: Microsoft to speed up Windows release cycle, next update codenamed "Blue"

By on August 14, 2012, 12:00 PM

The next major release of Windows is set to arrive on October 26, roughly three years after Windows 7 saw the light of day, and yet chatter about what’s coming next is already starting to emerge. According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is already working on an update code-named "Blue," which is due to land sometime next year, perhaps during the summer.

Foley believes this will be an interim update rather than a full fledged Windows 9 release. However, she is unsure if it will simply include a rollup of fixes and updates in the form of a Service Pack, which Microsoft typically releases a year or so after a new OS launch, or a ‘feature pack’ containing a rollup of fixes plus some new features. Either way apparently Microsoft is making some changes to its release cycle.

The word seems to be, whichever it is, that Microsoft is moving away from the big-bang Windows release schedule to which it typically has adhered, and is now attempting to move toward something more like what Apple does, with point releases.  I'll be curious if Blue eventually gets a version number, like Windows 8.1 or 8.5 or something.

In other words, Microsoft may decide to move away from the 3 year cycle of "big" Windows releases, in favor of smaller, more frequent and cheaper updates containing fixes as well as new features. This has been Apple’s approach over the last decade, in which they’ve rolled out eight major point releases since the launch of OS X 10.0, charging as little as $20 for the latest Mountain Lion release.

Foley also offers a little tidbit for codename buffs, noting that this isn't the first time Microsoft has used the Blue codename, as both the Azure folks and the MSN team have used it before.




User Comments: 20

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Guest said:

Now I could joke that Microsoft already sees the need to replace Windows 8 however the real issue is the Microsoft ultimately wants a subscription model where you don't own anything, you just pay a monthly fee. They are moving people to this by adding cloud features and quickening releases. The next steps will be to just use a cloud based 'PC' that Microsoft will automatically update with patches and new features, so you don't have to worry. Microsoft would like to have full control of your experience, so all money goes through them or in other words the Apple model.

Jibberish18 said:

If they'd like to have more frequent OS releases then fine, just don't expect people to pay $100 every time you do. Personally I think something like 5 years is much more reasonable for an honest to goodness new operating system. Not just an extensive update.

Rippleman Rippleman said:

you already are a monthly subscriber... the initial purchase price is just the amount of all the months added up dived by the time that you use the product. Some people have a higher cost, some lower but in the end, its still subscribing, its all about that angle you look at it from.

$100 initial cost over 5 years = $20 a year

$100 initail cost over 3 years = $33.33 a year

even if you never upgrade until you buy a new computer 20 years down the road..

$100 initail cost over 20 years = $5 a year...

Life is a subscription....

Guest said:

Rippleman what are you talking about?

A subscription to software means once you stop paying you no longer have access to said software. If you decide to stick with Windows XP your not paying a monthly or yearly charge. You pay once and can use the software for as long as you like.

However if you stop paying for something like Norton 360 you lose it all.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Don't they already have smaller updates called Service Packs?

I'll bet the cool new feature of Blue will be a start button.

treeski treeski said:

Rippleman what are you talking about?

A subscription to software means once you stop paying you no longer have access to said software. If you decide to stick with Windows XP your not paying a monthly or yearly charge. You pay once and can use the software for as long as you like.

However if you stop paying for something like Norton 360 you lose it all.

Yes, but the underlying point is that with the exception of a few, rare circumstances, everyone well upgrade eventually. This is especially the case with something as important as your operating system. One, big, upfront cost can easily be compared to a subscription service in which you're paying repeated, smaller costs over the same period of time.

Guest said:

Call me crazy but I'd rather pay for software to own it rather than continuously pay to rent it any day.

yRaz yRaz said:

I'm going to call BS on this rumor. Maybe if they said 2 years, I might believe it, but next year? This is probably nothing more than a service pack. MS has been doing this stuff with service packs as far back as I can remember. At the very most I could see this being more like Apples version of OSx release cycles. They release them fairly often as more of an update rather than a full fledged OS for a reasonable price. And let me tell you, that is the only thing of Apple's that is reasonably priced.

@ guest above me, you don't own the software, only pay for the right to use it.

Guest said:

Yes but it's not a subscription.

I pay for it once and have the right to use it forever.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I think its really premature as far as wondering what business decisions MS is going to make next considering Windows 8 isn't out yet, and neither are the phones and tablets that are going to be using it.

They are definitely going to be working on updating the code, and they probably have a good idea what people use or don't use so far, but it won't be until the software is actually released, how good sales are, how many users, and more importantly businesses and corporations are going to implement it.

If they have a flop on their hands as this Guest guy on TS always seems to predict, then they might have to do some additional things to bring users back, like reinstate the start button, allow for disabling metro, whatever.

But if the software becomes a success (which if it does, I would think it will take some time, up to six months to a year before the whole ecosystem becomes implemented and used) then they may try to capitalize on that.

But ultimately whether or not any future updates are free service packs or paid updates will really depend on the consumer reaction to Windows 8.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Is this the Chromification of Windows? :-)

Seriously though, this sounds a bit like what Apple does. Microsoft's release schedule has been inconsistent at best. Seemingly, Apple has something like a 12-18 month release cycle -- it's more consistent and certainly more rapid.

Given the major complaints against Windows releases are changes and pricing, this is probably a clever move on Microsoft's part. I presume faster Windows releases mean cheaper upgrades and less dramatic changes between releases (I.e. the stink about Metro).

Even though people may pay as much (or more) in the long-run for incremental upgrades, I can imagine the reduced sticker shock helping to pry open the wallets of a large demographic.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've seen Apple use these little updates to distribute bug fixes. No upgrade, no fix! They neglect the previous point release unless it's a security issue, and even then the previous point release may only be scheduled for an update on the "back burner." If a feature doesn't work as intended, the upgrade will certainly fix it, but don't expect a service pack to give it to your previous release.

Windows for the most part has quality when it's released in a major upgrade. I feel that minor upgrades justify themselves by fixing issues that a service pack used to address. I think this sort of update scheme lets Microsoft bring in more money annually at the cost of the overall quality of Windows.

Guest said:

Code blue? Blue screen of death? :D

miluthui miluthui said:

Code blue? Blue screen of death?

Hah yeah more BSOD!

sapo joe said:

Don't they already have smaller updates called Service Packs?

I'll bet the cool new feature of Blue will be a start button.

I'll also bet on that! LOL

They're already planning on the failure of Win8!

Gamesinner said:

Vista almost drove me to linux I see a repeat with win8.

Jcbowde Jcbowde said:

Windows 8 is just a pretty re-release of 3.1x. Remember program manager? The icons on the desktop have just been replaced w/ "tiles". Still just as ugly and unorganized as 3.1x. I for one will not upgrade to an os that is a revised 20 year old remake.

MrBungle said:

Windows 8 is just a pretty re-release of 3.1x. Remember program manager? The icons on the desktop have just been replaced w/ "tiles". Still just as ugly and unorganized as 3.1x. I for one will not upgrade to an os that is a revised 20 year old remake.

If you're just talking about Metro, Windows 3.1 was actually more functional since it allowed... um, you know... windows. The Metro UI is so completely worthless on anything used for more than casual web surfing.

Guest said:

I anticipated this seeing how little effort went into Windows 8.

TJGeezer said:

As Jcbowde just reminded me, this is hardly the first time MS has done a point upgrade. Windows 3.1 - case in point. But there's no way Windows 8 can have the same positive user impact on a desktop PC as Windows 7 had. When I finally got to dump Vista in favor of Windows 7, my inner choir started singing Handel, the clouds parted and the entire world enjoyed three whole seconds of peace. That's a hard act for an OS designed for tablets to follow. What I don't understand is, why didn't they just make Win8 a fork off their OS for the desktop PC? It's not as if one OS can fit all in the microcomputer world.

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