Microsoft: Windows Blue will respond to feedback, more details in coming weeks

As well as Microsoft CFO Tami Reller revealing that the company has sold 100 million Windows 8 licences, she has given a bit of insight into Windows Blue after Microsoft publicly acknowledged the existence of Blue in late March. First and foremost, Reller calls Windows Blue "a codename for an update" to Windows 8 that will "be available later this year", and expands on this to say Microsoft is taking the opportunity "to respond to the customer feedback that we've been closely listening to" since Windows 8 launched.

When pressed on the matter of new features by The Verge and ZDNet, Reller wouldn't specifically say whether rumored features such as the Start button would be seen in Blue, although she said:

We have heard [people crying for the Start button], we definitely have heard that and taken that into account. We've really also tried to understand what people are really asking for when they're asking for that. [...] I would say we've looked at a broad set of options as we've made decisions on where we take the product going forward

Reller mentioned that Blue will optimize Windows for small screens and small form factors, such as 7- and 8-inch tablets, however she mentioned that we'll likely see these devices come to the market before Blue is released. As Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet says, though, a number of pressing topics weren't addressed by Reller, including whether 'Blue' would be known as Windows 8.1, whether there will be a preview version of Blue ahead of the release, or whether Blue is the start of a yearly release cycle.

Although she didn't address these areas, leaked builds of Windows Blue seem to indicate it will be called "Windows 8.1", and that there will be a "Preview" of the update available. So far we haven't seen either the Start button or boot-to-desktop features turn up fully in leaked builds, although they are expected to be included in the final build.

Surprisingly she did mention that Microsoft will reveal the pricing, packaging and go-to-market details surrounding Windows Blue in "the next couple of weeks", which is before major trade shows including Microsoft's BUILD and TechEd shows. This will give eager Windows Blue followers something to look out for soon, apart from more leaks which have no signs of slowing down.

Source: Microsoft | ZDNet | The Verge

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If they charge for it, early adopters of Windows 8 will be very annoyed and probably distrustful of future Microsoft purchase. Microsoft isn't Apple. Not to mention that it's well regarded that Windows 8 was a messy release and it seems everyone was hoping for a big update to fix the deficiencies that currently exist in Windows 8. Charging for that will hurt Microsoft's image even more.

Microsoft has a history of poor decisions in the last ~2-3 years. Wouldn't be surprised if they decided to sell Windows 8.1 for Windows 8 users…

We need Start menu.. not just logo which bring us back to start screen. I guess this concept is so hard for MS to understand and we are getting ugly flat colored metro tiles. MS will fail if do not change its course route. Even Titanic had couple of people saved but MS will have none. they all will get fired and go on social welfare assistance.

I believe Microsoft will address all the Windows 8 issues:
We spoke and they listened

We said loud and clear, Windows 8 is ugly, the colors are ugly, and they listen to us and Windows 8.1 will come with no colors at all

We said we need time to find the new start screen location, they again listened to us, we are loud and clear, they will not put back the start button, just 4 tiny squares at the edges of the screens so you know that you should click there.

Don't like Metro, no need to worry, Microsoft got it, you be allowed back to boot to the desktop, and the metro will be just there if you decide to change your mind from the new ultra ugly black and white desktop
We speak, and Microsoft listens, the same as it happened in VS.NET 2012, yeh right.

MS insists in the topic of "compatibility with small screen", I DON'T CARE!. Modern UI should have rendered fine for every screen resolution since the first day. Or may be it can but MS hasn't activated it.

Nice... so we are getting it this year, granted all goes well. So this is seeming to be more and more like a beefed up service pack. Can't wait!

Start button: Smaller, more flimsy version of the Modern UI fullscreen Start Menu. People crying? The usual whiners who will complain no matter what.

I don't have a problem with the start screen, but I rarely just stare at my desktop. I have windows open. I don't want to minimize them all to see a weather widget.

I'm actually really happy with Windows 8, once you mod it to boot to the desktop. It is an improved version of 7, so can't complain.

All the hubub about the Start Menu is rather secondary; what I don't like about Metro is the lack of the taskbar and system tray, which makes multitasking and managing multiple apps so much easier... running an app full screen is annoying as hell, even considering "docking" windows to the sides etc... if I have 3 explorer windows open while working on art and designing a program or webpage, I need to switch between them frequently, which makes fullscreen useless.

Though I do think the Start Menu is a more compact way to access frequently used programs that aren't pinned to the taskbar.

i prob wouldn't mind it either but i bet i would have to do a lot modding to like it than you did and there is the problem.. having to do extreme modding is not worth the hassle.

I highly doubt this will be free, as it's not a service pack.
Either way, it's pure speculation until Microsoft says otherwise.

initial reports said that this update was going to be free.
i thought it was even confirmed through thurrott or foley.
perhaps they mean that 8.1 replaces 8 and they are going to change the pricing structure for new licenses, while existing 8 licenses just get the upgrade with validation?

Nashy said,
Prices? Wait, it's not just a service pack? You have to buy it???

Do you even read the comments? Do you think XP Service Pack 2 CDs were given away for free? no? right! Because they sold those versions. Doesnt say you had to pay for it using XP already

-adrian- said,

Do you think XP Service Pack 2 CDs were given away for free? no? right! Because they sold those versions. Doesnt say you had to pay for it using XP already

Actually, SP2 CDs were free and extremely easy to get (at least in Australia), I know this because I ended up ordering approximately 100 of the things to give away to people. Of course, you needed a valid Windows XP license to install. It was at a time (2004?)when DCOM and RPC venerabilities were causing havoc across Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems, and fast internet connections were not as common, so they were making update rollup and service pack discs available freely and easily... Not the same argument, but I thought I'd point that out

-adrian- said,

Do you even read the comments? Do you think XP Service Pack 2 CDs were given away for free? no? right! Because they sold those versions. Doesnt say you had to pay for it using XP already

I actually got sent a free copy of SP2 on CD from MS.

Nashy said,
I didn't come in here to read the comments mate, I came in here to read the article.

Then why even comment unless you want others to read your comments. Heck, just reading the article alone there is no confirmation of whether Microsoft will charge or not. Speculation, speculation and more speculation by journalists wanting to push their hit count up.

I read the article. I don't have time to sift through the comments. If you don't like it, please do feel free to not respond to it.

The point of a news site is for me to read the news, not the bloody comments, so jump off your little Internet high horse, and either ignore me, or answer question.

Nashy said,
I didn't come in here to read the comments mate, I came in here to read the article.

ya but the news is predictable. so little in interest in so much for me.
over time the tech world has bored the crap out of me and worse they all
in unison seem to be making every single product and service i use worse and worse over time.

Javik said,
It's not a service pack, it comes with a new Kernel version.

Service packs often do come with new kernel versions too. *shrug*

Northgrove said,

Service packs often do come with new kernel versions too. *shrug*

No they don't. Not a .1 increase anyway. They also don't come with a new file system or anywhere near this many new features.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,

No they don't. Not a .1 increase anyway. They also don't come with a new file system or anywhere near this many new features.


Thing is.
Win7 kernel is NT kernel 7.0.
Win8 kernel is NT kernel 8.0.

That both are in the 6. range is just for backwards compatibility.
Win8 blue kernel will be NT kernel 8.1. This isn't a big of a step as it was from 6.2 (win7) to 6.3 (win8). Its a minor increase, which due to their backwards compatibility version naming scheme. It will be 6.4.

Please do not confuse this with a whole kernel bump, but a minor kernel update. There might be very, very little kernel changes.

Shadowzz said,

Thing is.
Win7 kernel is NT kernel 7.0.
Win8 kernel is NT kernel 8.0.

That both are in the 6. range is just for backwards compatibility.
Win8 blue kernel will be NT kernel 8.1. This isn't a big of a step as it was from 6.2 (win7) to 6.3 (win8). Its a minor increase, which due to their backwards compatibility version naming scheme. It will be 6.4.

Please do not confuse this with a whole kernel bump, but a minor kernel update. There might be very, very little kernel changes.

actually, no... Windows 7 kernel is v6.1, Windows 8 kernel is v6.2

Yeah don't worry they won't/can't this is a service pack not a new OS. If on the off chance they do then it would be one of the more stupid decisions made at Microsoft.

It more or less is actually.
Its adding a start button that does basically nothing useful.
Minor tweaks under the hood.
Yep, sounds like a service pack to me, only this time, M$ is going to make morons actually pay for it.

ingramator said,
Yeah don't worry they won't/can't this is a service pack not a new OS. If on the off chance they do then it would be one of the more stupid decisions made at Microsoft.

agreed

Raa said,
Windows Blue/8.1 is NOT a service pack.

Microsoft has released SP's with new features in the past. This is no different and a much more accurate description than a new release...

M_Lyons10 said,

Microsoft has released SP's with new features in the past. This is no different and a much more accurate description than a new release...

BS. What SP has had a new kernel version (clearly changes under the hood)? What SP has introduced even half as many changes and new features? What SP is made for new devices (7 - 8 tablets)? What SP has introduced a new file system (ReFS)? Blue also includes new apps and a new IE. It's looking like there will be performance and battery life improvements too.

Look at OS X upgrades, and Blue has atleast as many new features and changes as an OS X update, which Apple charge for. Blue isn't even finished yet so there will obviously be more new stuff to come.

Edited by W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E, May 7 2013, 12:23pm :

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,

BS. What SP has had a new kernel version (clearly changes under the hood)? What SP has introduced even half as many changes and new features? What SP is made for new devices (7 - 8 tablets)? What SP has introduced a new file system (ReFS)? Blue also includes new apps and a new IE. It's looking like there will be performance and battery life improvements too.

Look at OS X upgrades, and Blue has atleast as many new features and changes as an OS X update, which Apple charge for. Blue isn't even finished yet so there will obviously be more new stuff to come.


I guess its similar to Win98 and Win98SE.
Some call it a SP, some a separate Windows. Its a refurbished Windows.
Win8 Blue is more a Win8 SE.
Not enough changes for a new OS, to many changes to be a SP.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,

BS. What SP has had a new kernel version (clearly changes under the hood)? What SP has introduced even half as many changes and new features? What SP is made for new devices (7 - 8 tablets)? What SP has introduced a new file system (ReFS)? Blue also includes new apps and a new IE. It's looking like there will be performance and battery life improvements too.

Look at OS X upgrades, and Blue has atleast as many new features and changes as an OS X update, which Apple charge for. Blue isn't even finished yet so there will obviously be more new stuff to come.

Windows XP SP2 was a significant update and that was free... Microsoft should give away Windows Blue/8.1 for free to Windows 8 users but those not running Windows 8 will obviously have to buy it.

Surprisingly she did mention that Microsoft will reveal the pricing, packaging and go-to-market details surrounding Windows Blue in "the next couple of weeks"

so they are going to charge for basically changing Win8 to what people want after buying 8?

if they charge for this 8.1... get your lube out

I'll go Mac if that happens. If I'm going to get screwed, I might as well get laid properly.

At least I'll have a shiny computer to show for it.

Of course they will charge for Windows 8.1. But the Windows 8 users aren't the only one that will be able to download 8.1. Windows XP-7 users needs to pay.

Studio384 said,
Of course they will charge for Windows 8.1. But the Windows 8 users aren't the only one that will be able to download 8.1. Windows XP-7 users needs to pay.

Thats what I'm thinking, Windows 8 users = free but xp/vista/7 users have a price and simple upgrade path. It would for instance be nearly impossible to coordinate payment for updates on a Surface RT for instance.

Even if it's just an update it still needs pricing. If it's going to replace Windows 8, it will have to be sold. It would be bad if they made you buy Windows 8 and then upgrade to Windows Blue, even if it's free.

Studio384 said,
Of course they will charge for Windows 8.1. But the Windows 8 users aren't the only one that will be able to download 8.1. Windows XP-7 users needs to pay.

Of course they _won't_ charge. This is kind of like the mango update for WP and the Win95 OSRs, only that we'll get it directly via Win update. This will make win8 better and drive more sales. Charging for this will only hurt win8 reputation, which is kind of split right now..

ChrisJ1968 said,
Surprisingly she did mention that Microsoft will reveal the pricing, packaging and go-to-market details surrounding Windows Blue in "the next couple of weeks"

so they are going to charge for basically changing Win8 to what people want after buying 8?

if they charge for this 8.1... get your lube out

No one knows because no details have been released - there loads of details yet to be announced and no where does it say that they are or aren't going to charge for Windows 8.1. As for what I think, I doubt we'll see them charge for existing Windows 8 customers but I do see them swapping out old Windows 8 from store shelves and replacing them with Windows 8.1 boxes although it does raise the question whether long term they're going to move away from box products except for a limited number of locales which do not have the infrastructure.

Studio384 said,
Of course they will charge for Windows 8.1.

pantera9 said,
Of course they _won't_ charge.

Can we quit talking out our asses for a second?

Unless you have some shred of evidence by working at Microsoft or whatever may be the case, there's no reason we need to be presenting our arguments as factual information. All you're doing is creating misinformation.

Would be stupid for MS to charge for 8.1. 8.1 fixes/addresses many issues that people have had with Win8. But we shall see.

I'd imagine that Windows blue would be a full install as well as a SP upgrade. Win 8.0 will probably stop being sold and instead, 8.1 would be offered. (or 8.1 downloadable as a SP) SP upgrade should be free. At least I am hoping it is.

Edited by techbeck, May 7 2013, 12:22pm :

This will obviously be replacing 8 at retail, so they will charge for a copy. This is common sense.

It's whether of not Win 8 users will have to pay. I'm guessing they wont, but if they do it will be like OSX upgrade pricing. Because this is atleast equivalent to an OSX upgrade, if anything it already has more new features/changes than a typical OSX upgrade plus a new kernel and it's not even finished. People are idiots for saying it's like a Service Pack, it's nothing like any SP ever.

InformedPoster said,
At TheVerge in paragraph two of this post:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/5...e-date-pricing-windows-blue

They state they were not willing to discuss those matters, yet Neowin said they were planning to release pricing as if there is actually going to be pricing. I think I'll take TheVerge's credibility over Neowin.

It seems to me the Verge said essentially the same thing as Neowin.

"the company isn't yet discussing exact naming, pricing, and packaging details. All of those details will be revealed by the end of the month"