What Microsoft is now saying (and not) about Windows Blue

What Microsoft is now saying (and not) about Windows Blue

Summary: Microsoft is ready to fire up the Windows Blue disclosure machine. Here's what to expect and when, according to company officials.


Up until now, Microsoft's official pronouncements about Windows Blue have been few and far between.


But the informational floodgates are going to open in the next couple of weeks or so, said Tami Reller, Chief Financial Officer of the Windows client division at Microsoft.

During my interview with her at the Microsoft New York City headquarters on May 6, Reller outlined Microsoft's disclosure plans for the next version of Windows, codenamed Blue. Here's what Reller would -- and wouldn't -- say about Blue:

  • Reller said the Windows team will share pricing, packaging and go-to-market details about Blue in the next couple of weeks. Yes -- that's ahead of the upcoming Computex Taipei, Microsoft TechEd and Microsoft Build 2013 shows, all happening in June. She would not comment as to whether Microsoft will go public with details about Windows Server Blue, Windows Phone Blue or Visual Studio Blue at the same time. My guess is no.
  • Reller reiterated that Blue is just an internal codename and that Microsoft is describing and positioning Blue "an update" to Windows 8. Reller wouldn't say how many new features will be in Blue. She also wouldn't confirm the final name of the product will be "Windows 8.1," which is the nomenclature we've seen in the leaked Blue builds.
  • She wouldn't comment on when and whether there will be a public customer preview of Blue (which is something tipsters have said will be coming in June or so). But she did say Blue will be out in time for holiday 2013. Tipsters have said the release to manufacturing of Blue looked to be on track for August or early fall -- another date on which Reller declined to comment.
  • Reller repeated the same message shared by Microsoft's outgoing CFO Peter Klein during a recent earnings call -- that Blue will address customer feedback that Microsoft has been collecting about Windows 8 and Windows RT. She would not say whether the rumored return of the Start Button and a boot straight to desktop option will be among the ways that Microsoft does this. "We feel good that we've listened and looked at all of the customer feedback. We are being principled, not stubborn" about modifying Windows 8 based on that feedback, Reller said. She said Microsoft has paid attention to where people are getting stuck when using Windows 8, with the goal being to help people use the product more and more fully.
  • She also reiterated that Blue, which will be available for both Intel and ARM-based PCs and tablets, will be tailored to work on smaller form-factor tablets and devices. She said it will support the various iterations of Intel's Haswell Core processor, and new Qualcomm and Nvidia chips on the ARM front. She also said that some of these new smaller form factor Windows 8 devices will arrive before Windows Blue does.
  • Reller wouldn't say whether Blue is just the first of what will be an annual release cadence of new versions of Windows. "You shouldn't assume we won't be doing this yearly... or that we will," Reller said. (Tipsters have told us the current plan is a new Windows "update" is happening every year from now on.) She also wouldn't say when to expect the follow-on to Blue -- which some inside are calling Blue+1, from what I've heard.

 "Blue advances the Windows 8 vision," said Reller. "It's all about mobile, touch, apps, the new dev platform and a highly personalized personal experience."

Reller's compatriot, Julie Larson-Green, who heads up Windows engineering, is 7 slated to speak at the Wired Business conference onMay 7 at 1:45 pm ET. That's probably one reason Microsoft is talking a bit about Windows Blue this week. But Reller also said Microsoft officials had decided it would be sound to clear the decks so that Build 2013 will be all about the Windows developer story when the show kicks off at the end of June....

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


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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  • MS is going to charge for it? Seriously?

    MJF - thankyou, I found the article rather informative.

    However, what justification will MS use to charge for "Blue"? I find it remarkable that MS would consider having the gall to charge for such a package!
    • Not all Windows 8.1 sales will be upgrades

      Even if they would not charge current Windows 8 users, they still need to set a price for new pc's and devices or upgrades from older versions of Windows.
      • Thank you

        was thinking the exact same thing...
      • I was holding off

        If "blue" gives me boot to desktop and a Start button, what I would call a "workstation-mode", I can eventually buy a new computer and will happily buy a license.

        We will also upgrade our Win8 laptop instead of selling it and moving to (actually in this case "back to") OSX.
        • Its not a workstation...

          ...because you can't be bothered to click a single button on start up? Start up, click desktop app, done. Never see the start menu again except for lauching other desktop programs if you are not using a launcher, or have icons on the desktop, or have them on the task bar etc.
          • Startup

            I was thinking the same thing - it is trivial to get to the desktop and then you can toggle back and forth using the Windows key. Can't get any simpler than that.
          • .....

            Sooo what your saying is that your way is the only way? As it is the metro tiles just are not needed for most users and get in the way of getting what you want done done fast. Why is it so hard to allow the millions of users who prefer a standard desktop that does not keep taking you back to those damn intrusive tiles to just stay on the desktop they want and have a simple start button in the corner rather then having to play easter egg hunt and find hidden charms from having that option? I mean for $3.99 Strat8 will give that to you basically so how much is MS missing out on since all that money is going to these third party companies and the fact its a hassle just stopping millions from taking to windows 8.

            It's a pretty simple fix for Microsoft if they really want to fix the debacle this has become. Allow a classic UI install option ie normal desktop with classic start button. Make sthis a free patch to those already stuck with windows 8 and then have this an install option on futre customer purchases. They can not charge to update those who already bought windows 8 as that would be a pr nightmare of hate from users who would essentially be raped by Microsoft such as Apple does to its customers.
          • Quit spamming & take 2 minutes to learn

            If you quit spamming your hate like a paid employee of a competitor & spent some time with Windows 8 you would realize the start menu is quicker & easier then clicking Start > Programs > Vendor Name > App Name. Both Windows 7 & 8 allow you to click the windows key or scroll to the bottom left & click the same area to open the start menu and then type the first few letters of the name of the app, hit enter & tada! Windows button, type Wo and you have MS Word. Windows 8 makes it so much easier to find apps. Of all things to complain about, a greatly improved start menu that also will let you search the Control Panel is one of Windows 8's best features.
            Matt Ferderer
          • Hold on a second...

            In fairness to Fletchguy, his comment can be viewed as "Hey I'm the paying customer, why can't I get the features I want so I can do my work the way I want?" Your response seems to mirror the MS response as "If you would just shut up and do things my way (which I periodically change on you), you would clearly see that you are doing your work incorrectly!" This strikes me as particularly odd MS behavior, as I would say that in the past they gave you too many ways to do the same thing not too few.
          • Lazy users

            I am fed up with lazy people who can't read directions or figure out simple tasks. But you spend all day blogging about how bad something is. Put the effort into learning and you will same all that blogging time! I find more idiotic posts on zdnet than just about any other site, with Information Week articles just about as off base and opinionated by their writers, who all basically write the same crap, much of it not true. Where has IT professionalism gone?
          • RE:

            Oh, why don't you shut your ignorant mouth. He didn't spam hate; he wrote an opinion. And just for your ignorant self, a competitor to Windows would be Linux. The last time I checked, Linux was free.

            Windows 8 has a greatly improved start menu, and the fact that it will "let you search the control panel is one of Windows 8's best features"? I don't know what you're smoking, but obviously you aren't an I.T. professional, Mr. Hollywood Squares lover.
          • Matter of choice

            Yeah, I've seen this kind of thing in Unity. I don't want it. I don't want magic regions on my screen, i don't have a windows key on my desktops (Model M keyboards don't come with one), and I don't want a touch screen interface forced onto my desktop. One is not a shill because they don't like a particular user interface, as much as Microsoft (and Canonical still...) hope that the people who don't like a touch screen UI forced onto the desktop will either just go away or "learn to like it", it's not happening. Canonical ended up leaving a "traditional" desktop package available for use (otherwise I would never use Ubuntu again...), and Microsoft has gotten over their ego and realized they must give people a choice too. Good for them 8-)
          • No windows key?

            use the keyboard alternates. or a different keyboard
          • At least with Ubuntu

            They have the default interface but they offer other interfaces as well. Microsoft says use what we give you.
            x-windows user
          • Quit spamming and take two minutes to allow

            others to express their perfectly valid opinions of a product they don't share your lovestruck opinion of.

            Windows button - honestly, in this day and age we're telling people they have to rely on keystrokes?
          • Win7 partially castrated Start Menu

            Cannot rename buttons on start menu. In Classic Start mode, you can put a number in front of a program or file/folder name, then just hit flag button and the number and it would pop open that program, file or folder. Cannot seem to do it in Win7.
          • You CAN rename Start Menu Items

            Navigate to the following two locations and rename to your heart's content:

            C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu


            C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
          • Use your brains spammer

            You can move the metro tiles off to the far right and not be bothered by them, keeping the application tiles you do use and want on the left. Put them in any order you want, and resize them for even more usability. If you want a metro tile just scroll right. How much easier can that be? Have you even used Windows 8 more than 5 minutes to understand how you can customize it. Read the tutorials. Quit being a dummy.
          • A single click, every time I want to use the desktop

            A single click everytime is going to be a lot of clicks, I don't want to even look at Metro, much less click a freaking tile everytime I need something on the desktop.
            Not to mention that it's UGLY!!!!
            The only people who like Metro are Microsoft shills..
            x-windows user
        • Use Start8

          by Stardock. A $5 software pack that boots to desktop and gives back the start menu. Well worth it, and you get the speed and efficiency of Win 8 along with it, raather than going to Win 7.