Microsoft already developing Windows 8 successor, report says

Say goodbye to long, drawn-out development cycles. If Windows Blue comes to pass, Microsoft might update its flagship OS once a year

Windows 8 was officially released October 26, which means under Microsoft's standard operating procedure, we will have to wait at least a few years before the next Windows software upgrade arrives.

But Redmond might be changing its game plan.

Code Blue

Word of the next version of Windows, codenamed Windows Blue, first leaked in August, well before the wrapping was removed from Windows 8. Now The Verge reports that unnamed sources have confirmed Windows Blue's existence and that the next-generation software (rumored to be released in mid-2013) represents a new strategy for Microsoft.

Instead of kicking back for a few years after releasing a new OS as in the past, CEO Steve Ballmer and his team might move toward annual refreshes, complete with user-interface redesigns, new features, and a lower-cost upgrade pricing structure. Basically, Microsoft will be adopting the strategies of Apple and Google, which cycle through upgrades regularly and often.

"I think the world is different than it was 10 years ago, and everybody has to change," says NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker. "Microsoft has already started down that path with Windows 8 to begin with: different interface, something that's a lot more focused on touch, a lot more integrated with tablets and its cellphone operating system. There's no reason they wouldn't go toward an OS upgrade schedule that looks more like what the rest of the industry is already doing."

Blue: Windows 9 or Windows 8.1?

Windows Blue would also standardize features across Windows and Windows Phone for more cross-platform cohesion. Sources told The Verge that Microsoft plans to encourage developers to develop apps for Windows Blue instead of building only for Windows 8.

But as ZDNet first reported back in August, it is unclear of Windows Blue will represent a major upgrade from Windows 8, or merely a small update, or a service pack, with bug fixes and minor tweaks. Windows Blue could be Windows 8.1, or Windows 9. Microsoft, of course, isn't saying. Baker says it's unlikely a new version of Windows released next year would be a dramatic change in course.

"Nowadays, nobody does radical, big-bang departures like Windows 8," he says. "Everything is incremental. The reason you do a lot of small upgrades is to give people more time to adjust to changes."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AppleNPD GroupWindows 8appsGoogleMicrosoftWindowssoftwareoperating systems

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Caitlin McGarry

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?