Microsoft readying multiple Windows Blue servers and a Blue Windows RT build

Microsoft readying multiple Windows Blue servers and a Blue Windows RT build

Summary: There's more confirmation (if you needed/wanted it) that Microsoft is readying Blue builds of Windows RT and Windows Server.


It shouldn't be too much of a surprise to anyone who has been following the Windows Blue rumors and news, but there's now more confirmation about Microsoft's plans to release both a Windows RT version and multiple server versions of Windows Blue.


On March 24, what appeared to be a build of Windows Blue leaked to the Web. Some called this build a "partner" build of Windows Blue. One of my trusted sources has told me that the leaked build, number 9364, is  real and is a direct internal engineering build, current as of the past week or so.

Stephen Chapman of MSFTKitchen did a teardown of the leaked bits. He discovered mentions of the following Windows Blue SKUs that are apparently in the works:

  • Windows Blue RT
  • Windows Blue Personal
  • Windows Blue Professional
  • Windows Blue Standard Server
  • Windows Blue Enterprise Server
  • Windows Blue Datacenter Server
  • Windows Blue Web Server

Update: As Most Valuable Professional Aidan Finn (@joe_elway) reminded me, as of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft dropped Web Server and Enterprise Server from its Windows Server line-up. So there may be shadows of the past reflected in this in-development list. The current Win Server 2012 versions include Standard, Essentials, Datacenter and Foundation. The only thing that seems for sure is there will be multiple Win Server Blue editions, which is, again, what one would expect.

Chapman's discovery means we now have further confirmation that Microsoft will be almost certainly making a Blue version of Windows RT available, alongside two new Windows client builds (Personal and Professional), plus multiple server SKUs.

Windows Blue client and server builds are expected to be released to manufacturing in late summer this year. There will also be a Windows Phone Blue product coming some time after that, sources have said. Microsoft officials are continuing to decline to say anything about any of the Blue releases.

While talking Blue, I want to point out a couple of observations from around the Web about the leaked build. As many sites have previously reported, Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) is built into Blue. Neowin noted this past weekend that IE11 may include tab-syncing functionality, which could potentially allow users to sync tabs across Windows Phone and Windows, going forward.

And as my Windows Weekly cohost Paul Thurrott (whose image of the leaked Blue build I've embedded in this post) noted, more and more of the settings that are currently built into the Windows 8 Control Panel (in the Desktop) are going Metro. Though Microsoft definitely isn't phasing out the Desktop with Blue, it's slowly chipping away at making the Desktop less necessary for its own software and services.

It will be interesting to see when there are enough Metro-style apps to embolden the company enough to totally remove the Desktop, which allows Win32 programs to run on Windows 8. I'd bet that won't be any time soon. 

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, ARM, Windows, Windows Server


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Discontinued Server SKUs

    The Enterprise and Web server SKUs were discontinued with Windows Server 2012. I can't imagine Microsoft would add them back at this point.
    • SKU line up

      Thanks. You're right and I added a caveat to the post above. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Is Windows 8 gaining steam?

    I was just over at StatCounter and it seems that Windows 8 has been gaining steam the past few weeks. I was gaining about 0.1 of market share per week, but recently it's been gaining 0.2 per week... so just shy of 1 point of market share per month.

    Also of note, Windows 8 (temporarily) passed iOS in worldwide market share last week, and will probably leave it behind for good this week. It's also gaining fast in the US as well. (Note that it's unclear whether the "iOS" figure just represents tablets or if it includes iPads & iPhones).

    Here is the worldwide chart (if you click on Download Data the market share numbers will open in Excel):

    And the US numbers:

    Also note that iOS & Windows 8 numbers peak in the morning, but then go down by the end of the day (probably because people are using their work PCs).
    • Also...

      I should also note that iOS & Windows 8 market share increase on the weekends (probably because XP goes down), and then go down a bit during the week.
    • iOS isn't OS X

      It would be better comparing iOS & Android with Windows RT since they are designed for mobile.

      Or, if you intend to compare desktop environment, OS X would be the one to compare with...

      ** At least we can see a trend :)

      • Windows 8 is gaining on everyone...

        The reason I mentioned iOS is because iOS is the first one ahead of Windows 8... and the first one to be conquered. :)

        I see what you mean about comparing RT to iOS... but that's not entirely accurate. Windows 8 is BOTH a desktop & mobile OS. That's what makes it different. I mean, there are lots of tablets out there that run Windows 8 (on various Intel chips)... and aren't those competing with iOS? Well, kind of yes & kind of no. Anyway, I'm not trying to argue. I guess my point is that Windows 8 blurs the line between desktop & mobile... and I'm sure that's intentional.

        I'm optimistic that the changes in Blue will give Windows 8 a second lease on life... and a boost in market share... because that will lead to more & better Metro apps for my Surface RT. ;)
        • Second to market, Third....

          What interests me is that so many people have no consideration that it's always the following releases of anything that improve on the last. iOS was first, Android improved on a lot of what iOS doesn't do (even today), and it seems to me that Windows 8/RT improves even more. I can say that because I use all 3 on a daily basis. Windows 8 is really growing on me too, and I've found so much more flexibility in it than on other platforms. Not including apps of course where Windows 8 is far behind the other two.
          • Windows 8 was "risky" b/c it is transitional & transformational...

            Ballmer knew from the beginning that Windows 8 was going to take a lot of body blows--products this bold always do. The iPad was a new device with a new way of doing things... and Apple did a fine job of it too--they pretty much invented what consumers expect of a tablet.

            What Microsoft is doing is much more difficult (though that doesn't diminish Apple's accomplishment either), because it's trying to convince a billion (or more) people who have been doing something a certain way for about 20 years... to do it another way. Clearly, they've made some mistakes... and are trying to correct them... but the ambition involved in Windows 8 is impressive.

            I keep saying that Windows 8 is "transitional" & "transformational." It's transitional because it's basically the "missing link" between Windows 7 and Windows 9 (which I suspect will have no desktop at all). And it's "transformational" because it is trying to redefine what a "tablet" is and what it can do--basically... work. Real work.
    • Gaining steam?

      The only area where Windows 8 is selling is on tablets. I think the rest of us are discussing desktops and servers. People don't hate Metro on tablets as much as they hate Metro running on desktops. With the old Windows desktop interface deprecated, the entire desktop-using world is scared of being forced to use a severely limited tablet interface on their desktops.
      • But Windows 8 was designed FOR tablets...

        I totally agree that there are valid criticisms about Windows 8 on non-touch devices. The whole thing could've been handled differently. With that said, Windows 8 is really designed for tablets & Microsoft is waiting for ARM chips and WinRT to catch-up with where current desktops are at. It's going to take time, but at least they're trying.

        I think Windows Blue is a great example of how seriously Microsoft takes the complaints... and it's also an example of how seriously they take Metro. It may change, but it's not going away.
  • Windows Blue

    It would be nice to have a pure Windows Modern UI environment to switch through applications. I find myself using the desktop less and less the more I use Windows 8. The one thing that does frustrate me is when I'm in desktop mode, and I try to use "Send to Mail Recipient" and it doesn't load the Modern UI Mail app. I know there isn't integration between the two. Here's hoping Blue fixes this.
    • They need to be unified into ONE start screen...

      I agree. It's the "dueling desktops" that causes the most frustration for me. The flipping back and forth... the inability to pin Metro apps to the Task Bar... the inability to use the Charms features for desktop apps. They are kind of minor things... but things that need to be streamlined.

      I think a lot of streamlining will be done in Windows Blue... and then by Windows 9, there will be no "desktop" anymore... or, at least, not both a Start screen & a desktop. They will be combined somehow.
    • Do you use Windows 8???

      There is plenty of integration between the new UI and the Desktop. You should use it more and read more before posting again.
      • Um...

        I didn't say there wasn't "any" integration. I'm saying that there could be "more." And for the record... I use Windows 8 every day... on my PC, on my Surface RT tablet, and on my Nokia Phone. I'm quite familiar with it and am a big fan of Windows 8... but it's not perfect. If it was, Microsoft wouldn't be making changes to it.

        Therefore, I stand by my comments... and I "read" plenty by the way. What I try to avoid is attacking people for having a thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion that is different from mine...
  • Where's Windows Phone Blue?

    I wonder why Windows Phone Blue isn't on that list...
    • Win Phone Blue

      Hi. I'd imagine it's because this is the SKU list from the Windows client/server team. The Win Phone team is separate and is doing its own thing. Word is Win Phone Blue is months behind Win Blue in terms of completeness and RTM. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Funny...

        I find it funny that they are so removed like that in development. Wasn't Windows Phone 8 a full port of the NT kernel?? Seems that they would collaborate closer now than in the past. Plus if Microsoft is working on the similar platform experience between devices to make our use of the easier, they should be very close. Oh well...
  • Have we decided on a name yet?

    Aside from all the good stuff coming from Windows Blue (hopefully a more unified kernel and UI experience across Windows RT, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8), I wish we also got an official word from Microsoft on what they really would like us all to call their new metro/modern/Windows Store UI. That would make us all rest easily at night.
    • Hopefully they will not call it 8

      That number has a "bad name", MS should stop calling it Windows 8.
      • well, we stop calling it "WindowS" anything

        Seems they think we want to go back to Window. Wasn't that why they created Windows in the first place so we could run multiple applications at the same time? They why are they hosing the OS so we can only have one "running" at a time..oh.. so maybe they let us have two.. or for your MJ, 4 whole apps? Crikey (as my aussie friends say), I often have 8 or more apps I am switching beween each day.. to be limited to just 1, 2, even just 4 at a time?