The successor to Windows Phone 8 may reach consumers as soon as this holiday season, according to a recent Microsoft job posting. Until then, at least two much needed updates named "GDR2" and "GDR3" are expected to hit smartphones running on WP8.

The job posting for a "Software Development Engineer in Test" states (emphasis mine):

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 Phone 8 has only been available for about six months, so talk of WP9 (or whatever Microsoft chooses to name it) may be disheartening for anyone who remembers the absence of an upgrade path from WP7x to WP8. This time around though, Microsoft recently affirmed that WP8 will indeed be upgradeable, indicating the next major Windows Phone release should work on many -- if not all -- existing WP8 handsets. Details regarding upgradability are not known, however.

The Redmond-based software maker has been very quiet about the "next release" of Windows Phone, although Windows Blue rumors continue to surface. Precisely what changes Blue will bring to Microsoft's products and services remain unknown, although some vague details came to light thanks (once again) to Microsoft's illuminating job postings.

Windows Blue -- which is not an OS but purportedly a collection of enhancements and tweaks -- should land before the next major release of Windows Phone is rumored to arrive. Blue is purportedly poised to hit consumer preview status in just a "few months".

Windows Phone launches have historically been accompanied by new hardware, namely new Nokia Lumia handsets, which have been used to showcase the OS. Perhaps, we'll see new hardware arrive alongside Windows Phone's next major release, as well.