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.