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

Microsoft is ready to fire up the Windows Blue disclosure machine. Here's what to expect and when, according to company officials.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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....

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