February 20, 2013, 8:48 PM — Evidence of a big "Windows Blue" update this year continue to pile up, including the first alleged screenshots of the future Windows software.
As previously reported, Windows Blue may not refer only to an update for Windows, but to a set of coordinated updates for several Microsoft products, including Windows Phone, Windows Server, Windows RT, and services such as SkyDrive and Outlook.com. But so far, actual details on the software have been scarce.
That may soon change as screenshots are starting to bubble up. One image, posted on WinAero, doesn't show any new features, but lists kernel version 6.3 on the About Windows screen. As The Verge notes, kernel numbers 6.0, 6.1 and 6.2 belonged to Windows Vista, 7 and 8, respectively, so it seems that Microsoft views Blue as a significant upgrade.
Meanwhile, a report by Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet lends some veracity to the alleged image. Foley says the Windows 6.3 kernel number is correct, citing an unnamed source.
She also reported that Microsoft has just hit its first milestone build for Windows Blue, which means that development is now at the halfway point. Microsoft may be aiming to launch the update in the late summer of this year.
Microsoft: no comment
Officially, Microsoft has not commented on its future Windows plans. However, a recent job posting from the company mentioned Windows Blue by name, and spoke of "enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide." It seems likely that Microsoft will do some tweaking to the Modern user interface and update its own native Windows 8 apps.
Of course, there's been plenty of speculation about what Microsoft could and should do with future versions of Windows, including suggestions that Microsoft should try to make a cleaner break between its desktop and Modern interfaces, and perhaps work toward killing the desktop altogether down the road.
In Windows Blue, it'll be interesting to see whether Microsoft does more for the desktop, or tries even harder to push away from it.