While Reller used the "Blue" moniker -- saying that it would appear "later this year" -- and noted that the update would "respond to the customer feedback that we've been closely listening to," code for an assumed restoration of the Start button and perhaps a boot-to-desktop option -- neither was news: Soon-to-depart CFO Peter Klein had already covered both in an earnings call three weeks ago.
Ditto with Reller's references to "the next generation of tablets," and comments about future smaller tablets; her message that PCs are changing, and tablets are only part of the computing continuum; and that users are more satisfied with Windows 8 using a mouse and keyboard than published reports indicate.
All of those comments and observations had been made before, in some cases by Reller herself.
With little new information disclosed today by Reller or by Microsoft as a whole, whether about Windows 8's near-future plans or about the sluggish response to the new OS, everyone remains in the dark, said Moorhead.
"This communication style produces a reaction about what you'd expect. OEMs are running as quickly as they can into the arms of Google," said Moorhead. "It just gives OEMs another reason to go back to Google and Chrome [OS] devices. I've seen roadmaps for major OEMs, and except for Dell, there are Android-based clamshell [notebooks] on them."
Enterprise customers, too, who require long lead times to make OS decisions, are increasingly frustrated at the lack of information, Moorhead said, citing sources of his own.
"The risk there is that Microsoft could lose traction on its core customers," Moorhead contended, talking of major corporations that fuel much of Microsoft's current revenue. "Two, three years down the road, that could result in [Server and] Tools revenue going down, and then after that, the Office franchise is at risk."
From Moorhead's perspective, Microsoft's decision to keep things close to its vest -- a strategy credited to the ousted head of Windows, Stephen Sinofsky -- has been a failure.
"They're not scoring points with anybody," Moorhead said. "It would be much better for the entire ecosystem if they went back to the persistent and open communication they were once known for, and let the chips fall where they may."
Also today, Julie Larson-Green, who heads Windows engineering, appeared at the Wired Business Conference, where she revealed one new piece of information: The preview of Blue will, as many expected, ship during BUILD, Microsoft's developers conference, slated for June 26-28. It will be available to all users of Windows 8.