Software // Operating Systems
News
3/27/2013
11:22 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details

Microsoft finally acknowledges Windows Blue, the rumored update to Windows 8, is on the way.

Microsoft Surface Pro: Is It Right For You?
Microsoft Surface Pro: Is It Right For You?
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Microsoft on Tuesday finally confirmed that it is working on Windows Blue. An update to Windows 8, Windows Blue had been, prior to Microsoft's remarks, one of the tech industry's worst-kept secrets. It has also been controversial; with enhancements seemingly limited to the OS's touch-oriented Modern UI, the upgrade has provoked some to forecast the death of Windows' classic desktop interface.

Microsoft hasn't commented on such speculation, but with Blue now out in the open and several high-profile launches and events on the horizon, the software giant won't be able to remain mum much longer.

The Windows Blue confirmation arrived in a blog post by Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's VP of corporate communications. "With a remarkable foundation of products in market and a clear view of how we will evolve the company, product leaders across Microsoft are working together on plans to advance our devices and services, a set of plans referred to internally as 'Blue,'" he wrote.

Although Shaw said Microsoft leaders are aligned around firm goals, many would challenge that the company has projected a "clear view" to outsiders. Given Windows 8's disappointing effect on the sputtering PC market and Microsoft's tenuous position in the growing tablet market, many have debated what Windows Blue should offer. Shaw's remarks arrived only days after a recent build of the update leaked online.

[ Confused by the plethora of Windows 8 devices? Join the crowd. Read Windows 8 Device Choices Baffle Buyers. ]

The unconfirmed build not only focuses on tablet-centric improvements but also relocates a number of system controls from the desktop side of the OS to the tile-based Modern side. The tweaks have been widely interpreted as an effort to wean users off of traditional systems, and to make the Modern UI a self-contained environment. It's still possible that desktop improvements will be implemented but Microsoft's actions more strongly suggest that Windows Blue spells the beginning of the demise of the classic user interface.

Shaw's post does little to settle this debate. Aside from stating that Windows Blue is an internal title and that the customer-facing version of the update would be called something else, he offered little in the way of concrete new information. He did suggest, however, that Microsoft will be sharing additional Windows Blue details during two June conferences: TechEd, which runs June 3-6 in New Orleans, and BUILD 2013, slated for June 26-28 in San Francisco.

BUILD 2013 was also announced on Tuesday. Microsoft VP Steve Guggenheimer wrote in a blog post that Microsoft will "share updates about what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more." Registration begins April 2, and Guggenheimer suggested that users' growing preference for multi-screen experiences will be a topic.

The conferences are significant because Microsoft needs developer support to advance its agenda. Microsoft recently has focused efforts on this front, updating its Windows 8 core apps and offering incentives to developers. Windows 8's app catalogue, however, is still thin compared to leading tablet competitors'.

Compatibility with x86 apps remains one of Windows 8's unique selling points but most consumers haven't yet been interested enough in this feature to purchase new machines. Plus, with Microsoft's evident commitment to the Modern interface, that legacy compatibility is only part of the equation. Live Tiles are here to stay, and Microsoft has been telling customers to get used to the idea. From Microsoft's perspective, forcing users to boot to the Modern Start Screen isn't a design flaw; it was insurance that users would become familiar with the new interface, even if they prefer to spend most of their time in the desktop UI. Windows Blue appears to continue this approach.

This strong-arming will only work, though, if Modern apps deliver a compelling experience that not only competes with iOS and Android offerings but also satisfies the needs of long-time PC users. The June conferences represent an opportunity for Microsoft to encourage developer buy-in, and to tout new hardware based on Intel's Haswell chips, which are expected to endow touch-enabled Windows 8 Ultrabooks with tablet-like battery life.

To succeed, Microsoft will need to candidly address questions and concerns in addition to showing off its latest wares. If developers and partners are dismayed that the desktop could go the way of the command line interface, June will be their chance to push Microsoft for answers.

InformationWeek is conducting a survey on IT spending priorities. Take the InformationWeek 2013 IT Spending Priorities Survey today. Survey ends March 29.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
wht
50%
50%
wht,
User Rank: Strategist
4/4/2013 | 1:29:56 AM
re: Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details
You do not have to use touch. Use the keyboard shortcuts, your mouse or a USB pad that replicates the screen if you don't want to reach out to a desktop screen (I don't). Moving to Linux for your feeble reasons does not make a bit of sense.
proberts551
50%
50%
proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
3/29/2013 | 3:37:08 PM
re: Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details
I am just another I.T. professional and home user. I have been in I.T. 25+ years, and tired of the same old Microsoft. Another Microsoft Band-Aid to an OS DisasterGǪ.Windows Blue.
Microsoft needs to learn not to shove new technology down the throats of consumers who just want a solid performing operating system, with a small efficient kernel that rocks with speed and performance. We want an O.S. that does not keep slowing down with each update. We as technicians are sick and tired of programming sloppiness. It seems to be a race with Microsoft to generate revenue, instead of real quality.
We are sick of Registry messes that cause a multitude of problems. The contestant barrage of updates that are not necessarily compatible with software that worked fine before the update.
It is High time for another company to step up to the plate give Microsoft a real head ache and be a vicious competitor. Linux comes to mind, but is still a baby getting ready to grow up soon. Give the Business world an interface that makes sense, not a default screen on a desktop, that is made for a tablet.....come on, these geniuses are out of touch with reality. The reality is that business relies on a productive interface, and having to click and clack around to get something that looks familiar back on the desktop is just a huge annoyance. Performance and boot time are important. Having to cut power because you never reach the login screen is unacceptableGǪ.sloppy! Then having to chkdsk so it does not run like a tired dog is againGǪsloppy. What else can I say? I bet other technicians can add on to this as well.
proberts551
50%
50%
proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
3/29/2013 | 3:28:43 PM
re: Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details
Whoops..Commad line...Nslookup, ipconfig a multitude of troubleshooting, nbstat, to name a few. Any troubleshooting worth it's salt is done from the command line.
pcbackup
50%
50%
pcbackup,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2013 | 5:37:23 PM
re: Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details
What!? The command line is gone? Why didn't someone tell me, and what have I been using in a command prompt window (Win-R, type "cmd", hit Enter) then?
rsotol028
50%
50%
rsotol028,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2013 | 10:29:25 PM
re: Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details
look, for those who doesn't want or like 8, stay on 7 ok. but if you like 8, then wait for blue ok. its that simple. if you dont like 7, stay with xp. easy man.
i want to see the polish newui w-blue on june or august. nice gui
GBARRINGTON196
50%
50%
GBARRINGTON196,
User Rank: Strategist
3/27/2013 | 8:42:33 PM
re: Windows Blue Confirmed But Microsoft Mum On Details
It sounds like I will be moving to Linux in a year or two for desktop applications. I simply don't see how a touch application benefits desktop computing, yet Adobe and Corel, the two software vendors I am most interested in haven't even begun to make noise as to how a touch based UI could benefit (or even be applied to) their professional and advanced amateur graphics applications.

Since there is no serious penalty for a home user to move from one OS vendor to another, I see this as a reasonable plan if this "Blue" just seems like more stupid to me.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July10, 2014
When selecting servers to support analytics, consider data center capacity, storage, and computational intensity.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join InformationWeeks Lorna Garey and Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focused on maximizing technology investments, to discuss the right way to go digital.
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.