Free, fast Windows updates are the future -- and they could hurt PC sales

Microsoft has accelerated Windows' release schedule, which could bode ill for PC makers hoping to goose sales.

By , Computerworld |  Windows

Microsoft will unveil the next edition of Windows in just over five weeks, according to a widely-cited report last week.

The Sept. 30 date was reported by Tom Warren of The Verge, who said "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans" provided the information. Warren added that Microsoft would host a press event on that day, a Tuesday, to tout the new edition.

Previously, other reports had claimed Microsoft would issue a "technical preview" of "Threshold," the code name for the next Windows, in late September or early October. Most observers and pundits have been using "Windows 9" to label the edition, preempting Microsoft's marketing.

It's unclear whether the preview will be available to all Windows customers, or only to a smaller, invitation-only group of developers.

Assuming that the Sept. 30 event date is correct -- and while the specific day may be up for debate, there's no reason to doubt the general timeline -- it confirms a trend since the October 2012 launch of Windows 8: Microsoft has accelerated Windows' release, if not development, schedule.

Microsoft has already promised that the future of both Internet Explorer (IE) and Windows 8.1 will not be in major releases or upgrades. Rather than wait until it has a large number of significant new features, it will feed customers a continuous stream of smaller updates composed of those features and improvements that are ready to ship.

The same will apply to Threshold, aka Windows 9. That edition will include a one-click upgrade tool, and at least through the preview period -- but most likely also after it goes final -- be updated monthly via a new mechanism that lets users advance directly to the newest build without having to install any intervening, and missed, updates. The tool will also eliminate the need to essentially reinstall a new version atop the old. According to reports, that mechanism will not rely on Windows Update, which is what IE and Windows 8.1 will use to receive regular refreshes.

Those changes point to a different Windows, a different Microsoft that prizes speed of delivery over milestone releases that once drove PC sales.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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