Rumors that Microsoft plans to eventually kill the Desktop only increased after the leaked Windows Blue screenshots appeared over the weekend. The upgrade to Windows 8, code-named Windows Blue, is expected to be offered later this year, possibly in late summer. If this is a preview of Windows 9, then Microsoft is sticking firmly to its decision to force people away from the Start button and to deal with the tiled Start Screen. Microsoft went public today, talking about Windows Blue.
Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft, started and ended the post with a dig at Google for killing products such as Google Reader. He ended the post with "See, spring isn't just for cleaning/whacking away at things. It's also a time to plant and get ready for summer." He also wrote:
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." - N.B. chances of products being named thusly are slim to none. And don't start with the "so you're telling me there's a chance" bit. :)
Our customers have already experienced the ongoing rhythm of updates and innovations over the past six months including new devices, new apps and services, better performance and new capabilities. This continuous development cycle is the new normal across Microsoft - we'll tune everyday experiences as well as introduce bold, connected and exciting new scenarios. Our product groups are also taking a unified planning approach so people get what they want - all of their devices, apps and services working together wherever they are and for whatever they are doing.
Additionally, Microsoft announced the upcoming Build 2013 conference that will be held June 26 - 28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. "At Build, we'll share updates and talk about what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more. Build is the path to creating and implementing your great ideas, and then differentiating them in the market." You can register on April 2; the first 500 "early bird" registrants can expect to dish out $1,595, and the full cost of $2,095 will be for everyone else.
This early Blue Build 9364 seems to have several improvements over Windows 8, such as support for multitasking by running apps side-by-side. The tile-based interface offers more personalization options such as the Live Tile sizing options similar to Windows Phone 8 Live Tiles. Other Windows Blue features include additional integrations of SkyDrive, a new alarm, calculator, video and sound apps as well as additional support for touch gestures. Internet Explorer 11 comes with "synced tabs," but Microsoft is a bit late to the game here, since Chrome, Firefox and Safari have the synced tab feature.
Of course, any of this could change since Windows Blue isn't close to a final release. Microsoft previously dropped prices to allegedly boost Windows 8 sales, but it could also be to clear the way for the "new-and-improved" Windows 9, aka Blue.
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