Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, thinks users won't mind paying for annual Windows releases--if they're done right. "The Windows 8 update seemed to do well at $40 per download, so I think the market will take to this just fine if the updates provide solid benefits," he says.
Don't think you'll score a cheap upgrade if you decide to wait for Windows Blue's release, however. According to The Verge, you'll need to have a legitimate version of Windows installed on your PC to download a working version of Windows Blue.
More frequent releases mean more frequent features
Moving to a more rapid release schedule could also reap dividends for Microsoft on the innovation front, giving the company an opportunity to release new features on a far more frequent basis than with the traditional three(ish)-year Windows cycle. Three years is three lifetimes in the technology world.
Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, says that the massive gap between Windows releases has led to the company being "perpetually behind as a thought leader," with each new Windows iteration playing catch-up with the competition rather than introducing truly forward-thinking features like Siri or Google Now. Yearly upgrades could level the playing field for Microsoft.
"I don't think there's any doubt the right thing for Microsoft to do is accelerate the pace of desktop updates," Moorhead says.
The uproar over Windows 8's drastic design change points to another potential benefit of switching to yearly updates: More frequent updates mean less radical updates, which in turn means fewer changes for users to become acclimated to. "Nowadays, nobody does radical, big-bang departures like Windows 8," NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker told PCWorld when the Windows Blue news first broke. "The reason you do a lot of small upgrades is to give people more time to adjust to changes."
While the analysts we spoke to said that moving to an annual release schedule is a good idea for Microsoft--"They should have done this years ago," says Enderle--they expressed varying levels of confidence in Microsoft's ability to actually pull off the transition successfully.