Microsoft's next Windows Blue test build said to be a public preview

Microsoft's next Windows Blue test build said to be a public preview

Summary: Microsoft's Windows Blue operating system update may be on its way to a public, consumer preview in the next few months. And it might even be free, according to the latest scuttlebutt.

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More rumors about Microsoft's next Windows release, codenamed Blue, are trickling out from Win8China.com, a site known for leaking information about new Windows releases. 

win8chinalogo

Though I cannot corroborate all Win8China's specifics, I'd say based on previous Windows Blue tidbits I've heard, the site's latest Blue information seems largely believable.

In August 2012, I blogged about Microsoft's Windows Blue work, noting that a summer 2013 debut was the internal Microsoft delivery target. On February 24, Win8China claimed that the release-to-manufacturing phase for Windows Blue is supposedly June 7, with retail availability planned for August 2013.

Looking back, Microsoft released Windows 8 to manufacturing on August 1, 2012, but didn't make the release available at retail until October 26. Up until now, there's typically been a roughly three-month lag between RTM and the date when at least some PC makers would have the latest Windows release preloaded on new PCs. With Blue, Microsoft is trying to get Windows on a faster development track, and also get the final bits into consumers' hands almost as soon as the product RTMs, I've heard.

Win8China is also reporting that the second of the two expected Windows Blue milestones will be a public "milestone preview" build. I blogged recently that there would be two Windows Blue "milestones," according to my contacts, but had no information as to when and whether Microsoft planned to release a developer or consumer preview before RTMing the product.

In January 2013, I reported that Windows Blue was expected to include 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. Blue also was expected include some kernel and driver-level updates which could help with battery life and overall performance, according to my sources.

It sounds like Win8China also is hearing the same, noting there will be performance enhancements. The site is also claiming there will be scalability improvements for Metro-Style (Windows Store) apps so that they render correctly on differently sized screens. (We know Microsoft officials are touting Windows 8's ability to support multiple screen sizes, so this seems like a good bet.)

Win8China also mentions windowing improvements will be part of Windows Blue. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I'd be really happy if we could run more than just two apps side-by-side like we're stuck doing with Windows 8. A woman can dream....

Win8China also said that Microsoft intends to make the Windows Blue upgrade free for Windows 8 users. I have no idea if this is true, or if Microsoft will go the Apple route and make OS refreshes available for a relatively nominal fee.

Win8China hasn't posted about the other products that I've heard are part of the upcoming Blue wave. Windows Phone, Windows Server, Outlook.com and SkyDrive are all set to get "Blue" refreshes at some point. I've heard from my contacts that Windows Phone Blue is running later than Windows Blue. It's unclear whether that means Windows Phone Blue will be a fall/winter 2013 or a 2014 release. (This should not be interpreted as Windows Phone Blue being "delayed," as I have no idea what the Windows Phone team's target for Blue is/was.)

Microsoft officials are declining to comment on anything pertaining to Blue.

(Thanks to Sebastian, a k a @Windows4Live, for providing a link to a succinct translation of the latest Win8China rumors about Blue.)

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs, Windows, Windows Phone

About

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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72 comments
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  • My wishes

    First, make the Metro screen scalable. I really don't need it to run full screen on a large desktop monitor. Give me the option of having it popup on the side rather than full screen.

    Free the Metro apps from the Start screen. Let me pin them to my desktop like a widget, and let me scale them to an appropriate size on a large screen and I might be more inclined to use them.

    While I don't hate the Charms menu, I do wish I could reconfigure it. Let me choose which side of the screen it appears on, and let me choose which corner activates it.

    Finally, give me the option to just boot straight to the desktop. As it is, when I boot up I click on the Desktop icon and spend my day there. I rarely to never go back to the Start menu, as there is very little there that I need or use. I don't hate Metro, I just don't need or want it (in its current form) on a desktop system or even my laptop. Everyone uses their systems differently. What would be wrong with giving us a choice?
    itpro_z
    • Huh?

      Metro apps can already be snapped to the side... http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/windows-8-feature-focus-snap
      Jeff Kibuule
      • Not the same

        That is not the same as having the metro apps ON the desktop.
        Jabe124
        • Metro apps are not supposed to be

          You're never going to get them on the desktop, because they're not designed for that purpose.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • Therein lies the rub

            Metro apps were designed for touch screens (i.e., tablets) period, not for "tradional" keyboard & mouse driven PCs. That's why Win8 in it's current form is a bad iteration of Windows -- it forces a tedious and somewhat useless interface on users.

            Personally I hate the Metro interface and so have gone out of my way to buy systems with Win7 so I can be protected from Microsoft's heavy-handed stupidity until they fix the glaring useability faults. I will never buy Win8 with Metro the way it is, and sincerely hope they fix this in the next release.
            Gravyboat McGee
          • There's no reason it couldn't be

            After all Windows 1.0 to Windows 286 offered a similar transition - docked or full screen to resizeable.Similarly, OS X Snow Leopard offers apps "ipad mode" full screen but switchable to resizeable.

            And if we really want to spare developers work on page resizing, QNX on Playbook offers a tasklist mode that allows 3-4 running apps to display at once.
            Mac_PC_FenceSitter
          • Now you can run Metro apps on the desktop

            You can now :P Stardock recently released another product called modern mix that allows you to run metro apps on the desktop.

            http://www.stardock.com/products/modernmix/

            Seems they are doing the things Microsoft won't but it's a shame they charge for their products ($5 for start8 & $5 for modern mix to make win8 more usable...)
            agret2097
    • I completely agree

      Completely completely agree. For regular desktop and laptop machines Metro apps should run as windows... or perhaps Metro can take over the actual desktop background a la the old ActiveDesktop and clicking the Start button brings the desktop forward. This would unify the classic Start Menu with the desktop-- something that probably should have happened a long time ago. Whatever the case, the Frankenstein jarring switch between Metro and desktop has GOT TO GO.
      cmoya
      • Ha! Jarring.

        I heard it once (jarring) and I knew it was bound to become the "pop" phrase for the desktop to metro "switch".

        Its "jarring". Ha! Thats so funny. I could just see an office full of people after using Windows 8 for a couple hours. All sort of shook up and looking like they just got off a roller coaster or something. Ha! Jarring. Thats so funny.

        Funny thing is loads of people are happily using Windows 8 and none of them looked "jarred" at all.
        Cayble
        • Shrug - and loads of people have been avoiding Windows 8 too

          Microsoft will have to decide whether it pleases the choir or the sceptics. Probably easier to do the former, and probably more opportunity available with the latter.
          Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Alternatively

      Or on the other hand why not allow desktop applications to run in metro app containers. If web pages could do the same, it would be a unified system.
      Simon68
    • I'm pretty used to Metro

      But I see nothing in your post that isn't a completely reasonable request. Live Tile support directly on the desktop would certainly increase the adoption of Metro-style apps if you ask me. In fact, I think this could be a huge improvement. Let me pin the news, weather and other live tile apps that I might find useful directly to my desktop. I found a really cool network monitor that shows a summary of network devices on the live tile. It would be infinitely more useful on my desktop pinned directly to the desktop. I'm good with them launching the metro-style interface. Especially if I had the option of scaling and windowing applications. When running at 1080p+ on a large display it's rather limiting. And with Live Tiles on the desktop than they could accomplish their goal of getting people into the Metro development world while booting to the desktop.

      The Charms bar request is minor. I could take or leave that one but I don't see why they wouldn't give you the choice. Chances are I would leave it where it is though.

      My biggest request, if they don't allow metro app windowing, is to let me run split metro apps on a second screen while using the desktop and desktop programs. I hate that it switches both screens to desktop mode.

      Oh, and give me an option, that I can set by default, that searches programs, files and settings without having to go to each category. Feel free to divide them up by category in the results, I'm good with that, but don't make me select each one.

      I'm personally looking forward to the improvements it brings that will tie into the Xbox 720 and Windows Phone 8.
      LiquidLearner
      • Live Tiles = Sidebar Gadgets in Win7

        " Let me pin the news, weather and other live tile apps that I might find useful directly to my desktop. I found a really cool network monitor that shows a summary of network devices on the live tile. It would be infinitely more useful on my desktop pinned directly to the desktop. "

        They were called Sidebar Gadgets in Windows 7. I have a bunch that I use in Windows 7 daily to monitor devices and services in my network and would feel lost without them in Windows 8. Funny thing, I somehow managed to get those same Sidebar Gadgets to run in Windows 8 Consumer Preview, but not in the Professional release version. Back to Windows 7 I went.
        leb4
      • Yep

        This would allow developer consolidation, and allow Microsoft to eventually deprecate the other development platforms, rather than running a "separate but equal" win32 desktop track.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • I am not very fond of the current "snap-screen" in Metro

      So I would love to solve the problem of full-screen metro on a large screen with Metro opening up in a Window when running under Windows 8/Blue. The Window would be the Metro Start Screen and each launch of a Metro App would open up a new Window.

      This would only be practical on Windows 8 (x86/x64) but it would make it more useful on the desktop.

      On ARM (Windows RT, Windows Phone) would not be much different than it is now.
      M Wagner
      • I just want the option for it

        And if it's per app then all that much better. I'm good with games launching full screen.
        LiquidLearner
      • No More Metro

        Really, Windows 8 has some great under the hood stuff, but give us the option of the Start Menu built-in.

        We end up paying extra for a start menu as it stands now, it's only about $5 to fix Microsoft's biggest mistake, but we shouldn't have to do that.
        cmwade1977
        • Lots of poeple disagree

          I just think there are ways to make Metro better. I don't think they should go back to the Start Menu, that won't help things. And we need to look at improving interface options. Metro may not be "it" but I still think it was a step forward.
          LiquidLearner
          • Lots of people disagree

            "I don't think they should go back to the Start Menu, that won't help things"

            Your wrong. We have an all in one touch screen W8 machine in our ER at hospital. Its a machine for the MD's and for what they do, they absolutely DO NOT need metro for anything period. The MD that purchased this machine was a bit upset that he had to install a third party app to put the start menu back. We are forgetting the huge enterprise market that is not thrilled about metro. Their adaption rate is practically non existent for W8 and its metro that they are avoiding. Believe me, when MS phases out W7 for enterprise they better have a start button in 8 or they will die.
            Trent Larson
        • Huh?

          Why should Microsoft be keeping excess baggage in their OS? The Start Menu is fully depreciated. There is no reason to be keeping it around, when Start opens up the door to bigger and better things.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion