What the heck is Windows Blue?

win8_logo.jpgSource: Microsoft
At least they won't need a new logo

We're still in the midst of an Internet-wide discussion of Windows 8 and whether it's a success or a stinker, and now we've got another version of Windows to worry about: Windows Blue.

This one popped up around the tech blogs yesterday, most notably at ZDnet and The Verge. Before we dive into it, it's important to remember that for now Windows Blue is just a rumor.

So what is it? According to The Verge it's the next version of Windows, due out in mid-2013. It aims to more tightly couple desktop Windows with Windows Phone in order to provide consistent updates across both platforms moving forward. It's supposed to be a low cost upgrade and usher in an annual upgrade system similar to the one Apple uses.

ZDnet isn't sure if Windows Blue is a Service Pack or a Feature Pack but the Verge thinks it's a whole new version of Windows and that once it, and its attending SDK are out, Microsoft will stop approving programs created for Windows 8 (though existing Windows 8 programs will continue to work under Windows Blue). Windows developers will have to switch to Windows Blue if they want to keep creating Windows Store apps.

It's hard to imagine Microsoft would roll out a new OS just 7-9 months after the Windows 8 launch; I think if there's anything to this Blue rumor than ZDNet must have the right of it and it's some kind of Windows 8 add-on that perhaps prepares the company for annual updates going forward.

One of the benefits of an annual release cycle is that these tend to introduce changes more gradually than a complete overhaul does. Windows 8 is getting a lot of flak for being hard to learn and perhaps Microsoft is taking a lesson from this.

(I was reading reviews of Microsoft's Reader app and many people were complaining that the app didn't support printing. It does, via the Charms menu, but I saw this as a concrete example of how the new systems introduced in Windows 8 are confusing consumers.)

Microsoft isn't commenting on these rumors, of course, but if I were a Windows 8 developer I'd be a bit concerned at the idea that I could be learning a new SDK that will be obsolete in less than a year.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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