Windows Blue, which is meant to kick off an Apple-like yearly update cycle for Microsoft, is significantly more far-reaching than first thought. New rumblings and one big leak indicate that Blue is less about simply updating Microsoft's desktop and tablet OSes and more about overhauling a good part of the company's overall software and cloud ecosystem.
During the weekend, an internal version of Windows Blue (build 9364) leaked onto the Web. Stephen Chapman of MSFTKitchen quickly dove into the software package and discovered some new clues that suggest Windows Server is also in line to receive Blue upgrades.
Upon dissecting the contents of a file named WindowsProducts.adml, Chapman discovered references to Windows Blue (Client), Windows Server Blue and Windows RT Blue. He wrote, "Right there is definitive proof that Windows Server and Windows RT will also receive the Blue treatment," and he added that mentions like Windows Blue Standard Server, Blue Enterprise Server and Blue Web lend further credence that Windows Server is in line to get the Blue treatment.
Some of those Windows Server entries are likely placeholders, concludes Microsoft expert Mary Jo Foley. She noted that the Enterprise and Web editions of Windows went away after the release of Windows Server 2012. Current SKUs include Standard, Essentials, Foundation and Datacenter.
While it's a safe bet that Microsoft will continue to pile virtualization- and Web services-friendly features onto its cloud-enabled Windows Server 2012 OS, the exact nature of those upgrades are still shrouded in mystery.
However, barring any unexpected developments, the desktop and server builds will be launched concurrently or close to it. "Windows Blue client and server builds are expected to be released to manufacturing in late summer this year," informed Foley.
The reveal signals that Microsoft is succeeding in bringing the development of its consumer and enterprise software offerings into closer alignment. It also demonstrates that the company is leaving behind its strategy of issuing Service Packs and is making an effort to give IT administrators a clearer, more consistent upgrade roadmap.
In addition to client and server flavors, Blue will also bring some software and interface tweaks to Windows RT. A separate Blue update is expected for the Windows Phone mobile operating system.
On the desktop, Blue will feature more personalization options. One oft-requested feature, the ability to resize Live Tiles on the home screen a laWindows Phone 8, will make its debut in Blue for Windows 8 and RT. Internet Explorer 11 is also in the works, reportedly.