Microsoft will release Windows Blue as an update to Windows 8 later this year, tooling the update to respond to customer feedback about both Windows 8 and Windows RT, said Tami Reller, chief marketing officer (CMO) and chief financial officer (CFO) of Microsoft's Windows Division.
In a Microsoft blog post on Monday, Reller confirmed information given by Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's corporate VP of Corporate Communications, in a earlier blog in March. Reller shed a bit more light but still left questions unanswered.
The Windows 8 update will "deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, creating new opportunities for our ecosystem," Reller maintained.
"It will provide more options for businesses, and give consumers more options for work and play. The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we've been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT. From a company-wide perspective, Windows Blue is part of a broader effort to advance our devices and services for Microsoft."
Shaw had alluded to a broader effort back in March, too, with a reference to Microsoft's plans to make incremental changes to Windows in what he called a "continuous development cycle."
Reller's blog post on Monday, though, was the first official word from Microsoft as to any kind of a release date for the next version of Windows.
Although Reller gave Windows Blue as the codename for the update that will be available later this year, she did not address rumors that the update will be known as Windows 8.1.
Also, she did not pinpoint any new features, or specify how the update will respond to customer feedback about Windows 8, an OS that runs on Intel-based PCs and tablets, and Windows RT, an edition for ARM-based tablets.
A leak of a Windows Blue build that happened over the Internet just prior to Shaw's post showed a new UI, greater integration with SkyDrive, and new apps that include alarms, a calculator, an audio recorder, and "Movie Moments," which is apparently a replacement for Windows Movie Maker.
According to the sneak peek, users will be able to choose between small, large, and medium Live Tiles. The build also features new Snap Views for snapping apps side-by-side using 50 percent each, and the ability to snap together up to four applications on high resolution screens. The setting part of the Start Screen includes new networking and apps sections providing new options not available in Windows 8, such as the ability to switch connections on and off in the networking section and to see how much storage apps are consuming in the apps section.
The leaked build also revealed a new settings panel giving options for backing up devices to SkyDrive and automatically uploading photos and videos.
Meanwhile, rumors have also surfaced that Windows Blue will include a return of the Start Button and an option for booting straight to the desktop.
Reller also pointed to a recent update to Internet Explorer (IE) 10, so that Flash works by default; new integration between Outlook.com and Skype; and recent updates to Microsoft's Bing search apps and Mail, People and Calendar apps.
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