Though Windows 8 little more than a month old, attention is already turning to what Microsoft has planned for the future of its new-generation OS. With over 40 million licences already sold, Windows 8 is off to a solid start, but it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that the company is already working on updates for the OS.
You may already be familiar with the product codename "Windows Blue." When we reported on it back in August, it was suggested that it would be a significant update to Windows 8 – perhaps delivered as a "Windows 8.1" Service Pack-style upgrade – at some point next year. The Verge today reports that Blue is a little bit more than that – not just an OS update, but a move towards a standardised annual update cycle across both Windows and Windows Phone.
For Windows 8, it's said that the update, which is expected to arrive in mid-2013, will include "UI changes and alterations to the entire platform and pricing." On the user interface front, we at Neowin have heard from one knowledgeable source that the changes are expected to include the ability to customise the Start screen with more flexible tile sizes – along the lines of the Start screen that debuted in Windows Phone 8 – as well as a broader range of colour and background customisation options.
Perhaps more interesting than this is the prospect that while Blue will almost certainly be a low-cost update, it may even be provided free of charge as a means to stimulate upgrades for all users. According to The Verge's sources, a new version of the Windows SDK will be released with Blue, and "Microsoft will stop accepting apps that are built for Windows 8, pushing developers to create apps for Blue."
It's said that Microsoft wants Blue to be "the next OS that everyone installs," although it's believed that the Windows 8 branding will remain. The initial Blue update is also expected to pave the way for a cycle of annual OS updates. A tentative release date for Blue beyond the mid-2013 time frame is not yet known.
Source: The Verge