Microsoft's 'Blue' wave is coming to more than just Windows

Microsoft's 'Blue' wave is coming to more than just Windows

Summary: Blue isn't just the codename of the next version of Windows. It also is the codename for updates to Windows Phone, Windows Server and Windows Services, I'm hearing.


As we've known for a few months, the Windows client team at Microsoft is working on its first "feature-pack" update for Windows 8, supposedly due this summer/fall, which is codenamed "Blue."


But it turns out Blue isn't a Windows thing only, according to one very accurate tipster of mine who doesn't want to be identified.

Blue also is the way Microsoft is referring to the next substantial platform update for Windows Phone, the Windows Services (like SkyDrive, Hotmail, etc.), and Windows Server, according to my source. In other words, Blue is a wave of product refreshes which are not expected to arrive exactly all on the same day, but which are meant to be released more or less around the same time.

Before these various Blues come to market, there will continue to be minor fixes, firmware updates and new features added to Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Services and Windows Phone. On the phone side of the house, for example, the first minor update, codenamed Portico, already has made its way out to a number of Windows Phone users. 

Blue represents a major change in how Microsoft builds, deploys and markets software and services. To date, many Microsoft teams like Windows, Windows Live and Windows Server have been focused on delivering major platform updates every two to three years. The challenge is to get them to pivot around yearly platform updates, the first of which will hit as part of the Blue wave.

On the Windows side, the changes required to make this happen will be especially far reaching and pronounced. Instead of RTMing a new version of Windows once every three or so years, and then hoping/praying OEMs can get the final bits tested and preloaded on new hardware a few months later, Microsoft is going to try to push Blue out to users far more quickly, possibly via the Windows Store, my contact said.

There's still no word on specific new features coming to any of the Blue wave of products and services. But tweaks to the user experience, new dev-platform related bits, as well as new versions of Internet Explorer, Mail, Calendar, Bing and other integrated apps are likely to figure into the Blue picture, my source said. Blue will include some kernel and driver-level updates which could help with battery life and overall performance, according to my source, but backward compatibility with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 seem to be a priority.

I know there are still some Blue doubters out there, but Charon at found a recent mention of Blue in a member of the Windows team's LinkedIn profile:


Windows 9 is still seemingly on the roadmap, too, by the way, but it's not clear when Microsoft intends to deliver it. Charon also found a LinkedIn poster mentioning his work on Windows 9 recently:


For the time being, as executives like Windows Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller have said repeatedly, Microsoft envisions Windows 8 as something more than a one-season wonder. (Reller has said Microsoft considers Windows 8 a product "of multiple selling seasons.") That makes more sense if you think about Blue -- and Lilac and Fuchsia or whatever Blue's successors are codenamed -- as updates to Windows 8, rather than as Windows 9, 10, and beyond.

I very, very seldom post a single-sourced rumor. But go ahead and Tracour this Blue update. I'm feeling pretty solid on this one.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Windows Phone, 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).

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  • Mary Jo, thank you very much.

    That's what I was also thinking after reading your point on how Microsoft executes from inception to delivery. Windows Blue is probably the codename for its strategy of delivering updates to existing Windows, whether it is Windows 8, RT, Server, Phone or Services.
    Ram U
    • Google Wave

      Hope it's better than Google's Wave, if it's a hotch-potch of stuff and services, and the incessant need to 'social' everything up.
      • Google Wave

        I thought google Wave was certainly a neat idea, but it fell flat on implementation simply because it was an idea that nobody was really looking for in the long run.

        As a enterprise server set up, sure it would have been neat, being able to embed widgets into a message for things like maps, and note taking. But I figure it went too close to email territory where the main audience is the group of people already using email.
    • Why does MS continue to silo WP8 apps?

      Both Android and iOS allow you to install their phone apps on tablets. MS puts it's phone developers at a further disadvantage by siloing the app stores.

      Hopefully Blue will do more to unify the app store and bring more conformity between phone and tablet user experience.
      • But on the other hand...

        Neither Android nor iOS does run desktop apps...

        They put their device developers at a further disadvantage by siloing the app stores.

        See.. It goes both ways... :-)

        Who will be first to let the same apps to run on all three device types?
        • Ubuntu.

          Not a Linux user all .just saying that Ubuntu is doing it with their new phone system.
          • Yep, Ubuntu plans to do it this year,

            and I bet you money that's why Win8 was developed. Takes time for a large enterprise like Canonical to design a strategy and implement it. So bet that several years ago, they wanted to do what is being announced, now. So bet that MS got wind of it, and wanted to jump on the bandwagon. So it's not Apple MS aims at, but Canonical.

            With good reason. Since Extremadura in 2005, Linux has taken off as the OS of choice in poorer countries. Huge populations, all of them needing to some extent to connect their people in order to progress into the 21st century at a far more rapid pace than the West had to do. It's a trend since WWII, and you can empathize with it. We in the West are getting progressively lazy, and so we farm out our work to the cheaper labor, who needs to become tech-savvy to catch up. And they have, in record numbers. Linux being big in enterprise, they learned Linux. So the 20-somethings now, have experience in Linux, not MS. So what will they buy? Linux. So where does that leave MS? In a quandry.

            As of last week, I began installing Linux on a stick to learn it (Mint 13 and Fedora 17 work on a stick well; their other versions, or other Linus distros don't work well). Now you know why. I hate Win8, and the latest distros are hard to distinguish from Win8's interface. Ubuntu in particular, has the same strategy and goals as stated by MS. To prove that, just view Ubuntu's own video on its upcoming phone.

            The sad thing is, MS alienated its installed customer base by doing this, solely because it FORCES a very different desktop on the user, from what he had before. They could have stuck to the old style with an OPTION to do the new one, or at least give the user a way to revert to the old desktop. Why they didn't do that, is beyond me. Bad move. Hope whatever Windows Blue becomes, will solve this extreme loss of goodwill.
          • More about Ubuntu

            Check out for watching videos with the upcoming Ubuntu Touch in action.
        • Well...

          There is obviously a good reason for getting WP8 on the NT kernel and having an almost identical SDK between WP8 and RT.

          I hope that Blue is the final coming together of all the little pieces that currently don't perfectly align. I want to be able to make an app that can be deployed to WP8 or RT (on a tablet or desktop) without creating two separate apps.

          And of course I want the store to be unified...MS could let 'legacy' WP apps run in the snapped state on Windows 8/RT for example.
        • Windows Start Screen doesn't support Desktop programs either :-|

          Click on when and you're put into the Desktop.

          They're two different things and it's madness Windows 8 Start Screen doesn't support Windows Phone apps from the Windows Store too. It would give Windows tablets particularly a massive boost, so badly needed.
    • I Remember the other "Blue"?

      Steve Ballmer has lost his mind. The reason Microsoft was always ahead of Apple is because it was "MICROSOFT". Ever since Microsoft started to try to be "Apple" the slide began. As of February 2012 Apple has taken the lead away from Microsoft. Like almost everything else in this country the art of competitive creativity is dying. Microsoft was not Apple and every developer, short of iPhone developers respected that. Windows 8 is an attempt to try to capture the trends that Apple introduced and in my opinion shows a severe lack of vision. Hey Steve, don't try to recreate an Apple framework there already is one. Try instead to do what Microsoft has always done, create something that is their own. Anyone remember the last "Big Blue" idea? I am betting IBM remembers it all too well. If I wanted an operating system that looked like Apple I would switch to Linux. If Microsoft was smart they would send Ballmer packing, if not they better start packing themselves.
      • Good joke

        Microsoft always ahead of Apple? Good joke! Microsoft was always shamelessly copying Apple and had a more ruthless attitude towards competitors. That was the main reason for their commercial success.
    • Windows 8 is fantastic!

      I don't know what all of the fuss is about. Windows 8 is better than Windows 7 in so many respects. Sure, the new Metro user interface for a traditional Windows desktop user sucks, but I never ever see or use it and neither do you. On and that missing start button? You an get it back, better, for free in only minutes.

      I use the Windows 8 classic interface - it has a full function Start button and boots directly into the Windows Classic user interface every time - all I had to do was add the free Classic Shell utility; it took less than 5 minutes to download, install, and configure. Just a few reasons why Windows 8 and an overall OS is better than Windows 7:

      * Windows 8 is all of Win 7 Ultimate plus:
      * Much faster system boot time
      * Much faster app start-up time
      * Native USB 3.0 driver support
      * Far improved Task Manager
      * Improved Windows classic UI refinements
      * The vast majority of my apps worked fined when I upgraded my tablet from Win 7 to Win 8
      * Major 2D graphic acceleration over Win 7 (Direct2D + DirectX 11.1)
      * Higher PCMark7 performance benchmarks in almost all categories
      * Higher performance for SATA 6GB/s R/W SSDs (upwards of a 30 MB/s gain)

      To condemn Windows 8 only because you don't like its new Metro user interface is like cutting off your nose to spite your face - just ignore Metro. All of the critics of Windows 8 are simply demonstrating their technical incompetence and inability to separate fat from fiction.

      I had the very first IBM PC1 and have been building systems and developing software for over 30 years. I have many systems and many OSs. I am currently building a high end X79 i7 system now. Windows 8 is going on it along with Classic Shell. Anyone want to provide a credible argument, other than the "I hate Metro and there is no Start button" arguments which I've already debunked, why I should instead use Windows 7?

      • correction:

        I wrote: "Sure, the new Metro user interface for a traditional Windows desktop user sucks, but I never ever see or use it and neither do you"

        Meant to say:

        "Sure, the new Metro user interface for a traditional Windows desktop user sucks, but I never ever see or use it and you don't have to either (by installing any of many utilities such as Classic Shell, Start8, or any of a dozen or more others)."
      • Buyers are voting with their feet

        There will be always people who got so much used over the years to deal with the flaws of Windows they they lost totally their objectivity. But at least Windows was in the past usuable for the majority of PC users. But the market share of 3.8% of Windows 8 after 7 months is speaking a clear language. Even Vista had a higher market share. Conclusion: The majority of users doesn't like Windows 8 and many people are now finding out that systems like Mac OSX or Ubuntu have a lot of strengths. Microsoft has ZERO strategy. The whole Windows market is now a mess. Windows Phone's success hangs on Nokia. Windows RT is the biggest disaster Microsoft ever had (0.02% market share). Hardware OEM get upset due to the Surface competition and nobody knows where the MSFT ship is heading to. Windows 8 is lacking commitment to either the desktop or to the Metro world. Now we have two competing scopes in one OS where probably even Microsoft doesn't know the right direction. Windows 8 is nothing else than a stupid and hasty reaction to the success of Apple with the iPad. But a "we too" approach - especially in such a ridiculous quality - is just not enough to win over users fromm Android or iOS. Microsoft is now sitting between all chairs. If they put more focus in version 8.1 to the desktop everybody will say that they lost against Apple etc. If they strengthen the Metro scope many traditional users will defect to Mac OSX and Ubuntu.
  • Tsunami please..

    Let's make this next one a tidal wave please, last years wave was nice, now lets come in with another wave to clean up some of the messy stuff that the last wave left behind....
  • Blue should bring back power user features

    Right now, you are limited to running two applications using the "Metro" interface. This is handcuffing anyone who has multiple monitors. With Windows 7, I can have a dozen applications, email, and half a dozen gadgets spread across my three large monitors. Switching to Metro would be ten steps backward for the way I work. Everyone uses two displays at my wife's company to boost productivity and they won't switch to Windows 8 because of that. Microsoft has abandoned power users and it will only hurt them in the long run. Let's hope Blue addresses this massive oversight.
    • ?

      Are you specifically referring to Windows Store apps? My home PC can still run multiple programs on the same screen, but I have yet to try multiple Windows Store apps.
      • Store apps

        Store apps are limited to two on screen (and only a single screen at a time). The 2nd of the two apps can only be run in 'snapped' mode taking up 320px at either side of the screen.

        Store apps are not (at this stage at least) intended for productivity/work really. That's why the desktop is still there.

        In a few years the vast majority will be perfectly serviced with single tasking. Most people already run a single application in full screen most of the time anyway.
        • Or you can run the "Toolbox" app.

          Allows up to 6 Windows 8 apps on the one screen, then of course you can run plenty of normal Windows programs you want on the other screen.