Windows 9 or Windows Blue?
Since about the time that Windows 8 came out, rumors have been stirring that the next version of Windows is being created and will be released soon. What is uncertain is whether there will be a Windows 9 or whether Microsoft will opt to release smaller, faster upgrades to their software, in effect, Windows 8.1. Not much is certain, actually, but the rumors abound on the Internet about the operating system also known by the codename Windows Blue.
Windows 8 sales did not keep Microsoft from a 4% decline in profit overall in the last quarter of 2012. Its entertainment and office divisions posted double-digit declines in revenue. Windows 8 is a big change for the Windows OS as Microsoft tries to tie desktop and laptop computing to tablets. With its tiled interface, Windows 8 appeals to users of touchscreen devices. If you want the familiar start menu, you must go beneath the tiles, where a more traditional desktop environment appears. The New York Times reports: “Apple’s iPad has been nipping into sales of low-end laptop computers for some time, a trend Microsoft and its partners in the PC business desperately want to stop.”
The tile interface of Windows 8 seems to fit touchscreen devices, but has caused long-time users of Windows frustration when used on a desktop or laptop. Like it or not, the Windows 8 interface is a step toward the future and may encourage the development and sale of ultrabooks with touchscreens.
Here is a summary of what has been leaked and speculated upon for Windows Blue:
1) Users will be able to customize and resize tiles so that they can expand the space given to applications that they use the most.
2) However, the new Metro UI with its tiles is here to stay. Even the traditional desktop functions, although still accessible, will be visually updated to reflect the Metro style.
3) Microsoft may be moving to a yearly update cycle, designed to be more competitive against rivals Apple and Google. More frequent releases means more frequent updates to new features for Windows.
4) Windows Blue may be a low cost upgrade (some are even speculating a free upgrade) in order to encourage the widest adaptation among users.
One possible drawback to these changes is the woeful lack of Windows apps available compared to Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android. Releasing Windows 8 and then, possibly as soon as this summer, releasing a newer Windows version, makes application developers reluctant to create applications for Windows 8. Applications are needed to bring depth to Microsoft’s app store and encourage more users for their devices.
In the meantime, Microsoft is releasing a new OS for its touchscreen tablets called Surface Windows 8 Pro. The starting price for tablets with Surface Pro is $899 compared to $499 for Surface RT. The new Surface will include a pen to draw or take notes with and more computing power than RT. It is expected to be released in the US and Canada February 9, 2013.
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