Microsoft may mimic Apple's operating system release cycle
So, Windows 8 has been out for a bit over a month and there is already talks on the Internet about the next version of Windows codenamed Blue that supposedly will come out in less than a year's time. Tom Warren over at The Verge reports that Microsoft is planning to standardize Windows and Windows Phone updates in an effort to release updates more frequently to consumers.
According to Tom's sources - unnamed but apparently close to the company - Microsoft may be preparing a Windows Blue release for mid-2013 which will be priced at a low cost or free. The basic idea behind the plan is to get Windows users to upgrade to the Windows Blue platform which acts as a base platform for all future versions of Windows.
Windows Blue will ship with its own updated SDK and it will be at that time that Microsoft will stop accepting new apps designed with Windows 8's SDK in Windows Store. While apps are said to work under Windows 8 and Windows Blue, only apps created with Windows Blue's SDK will be accepted in the store from that time onwards.
Tom reports that customers need a genuine version of Windows to upgrade to Windows Blue and that protection will be integrated into the operating system that will block built-in apps and Windows Store from functioning if a pirated copy is detected.
Microsoft will push towards a faster update cycle, possible at an annual rate, to increase the system's competitiveness against Apple and Google operating systems that are upgraded more frequently.
What does it mean for customers and developers? Customers who just bought Windows 8 face a difficult decision next year. They can either upgrade to Windows Blue to keep using the store and new apps that are released for it, or stay on Windows 8 which basically blocks them from using the store in any meaningful way after the release of Windows Blue.
Developers are likely having issues with the process as well. They need to download and use a different SDK when Blue comes out and depending on whether that is just an upgrade to the existing SDK or something that is different from it, update all of the apps they develop to keep updates coming for them.
Information are scarce at the moment and Microsoft refused to comment when asked about it. I think it is a confusing time for Windows users as it becomes difficult to stay on top of what is happening right now. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft releases Windows Blue next year, if it will cost money, and what functionality it includes that is not part of previous systems.
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