Microsoft’s Windows Blue Coming in 2013 with Small-Screen Support

Windows has officially confirmed that the next major update to Windows 8 dubbed “Blue” would ship by the 2013 holiday season.

Windows Blue does exist and it’s coming before the end of the year. Photo: KompasTekno/Flickr

“Blue” is an internal Microsoft codename for the next major update, and the final product will have a different name, although Windows marketing chief Tami Reller didn’t reveal what it would be. According to him, with Blue Microsoft has three main pillars: evolving Windows 8 for touch, addressing customer feedback, supporting new form factors, specifically 7- and 8-inch screen sizes.

That last aim is probably the most significant one, as manufacturers faced big technical hardships when creating small-screen Windows 8 devices.

It also means that Windows tablets will soon be able compete directly with the giants of the tablet market such as the Kindle Fire HD and iPad mini.

“What we did in Windows 8 was really to lay the foundation for taking advantage of mobile computing broadly, whether it was tablets or increasingly mobile PCs,” Reller told reporters in an interview at Microsoft’s New York offices. “All of Blue is about continuing that vision.”

Besides small screen dimensions, the update will support Intel’s upcoming Core (Haswell) and Atom (Bay Trail) processors as well as new ARM-based chips from Qualcomm (Snapdragon 800) and Nvidia (Tegra 4), reports Mashable.

Windows Blue would be an update, not an upgrade, Windows representative added, although she didn’t confirm whether that meant it would be free for existing Windows 8 users.

By the way, Microsoft has sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses in a half of a year since launch, and wants to combat sputtering interest in its flagship software with a substantial update to make it easier to use, and compatible with smaller tablets, writes Reuters.

Windows 8 is the first Microsoft operating system designed for touch commands, but it hasn’t captured consumers’ imaginations or make a dent in a tablet market dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

“Is it perfect? No. Are there things we need to change? Absolutely. We are being very real about what needs to change and changing it as thoughtfully and quickly as we can”, said Reller, co-head of Microsoft’s Windows unit at the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters last week.

Though the tech giant has managed to sell 100 million Windows 8 licenses since October 26, matching Windows 7 sales three years previously, it feels like the released system will see progressively rising demand, as its predecessor did, hitting 240 million sales in its first year.

Microsoft’s last Windows 8 sales update was in the beginning of the year, when it broke 60 million, suggesting only around 40 million license sales in the last four months, well below Windows 7’s average sales rate.

Windows 7 has become popular partially due to the fact that it replaced the generally unpopular Windows Vista, whereas Windows 8 has confused many potential customers with its new-look ’tile’-based start screen and the omission of the traditional ‘start’ button.

“The learning curve is real, and we need to address it,” said Reller. “We’re not sitting back and saying, they will get used to it.”

She went on, adding that the software giant’s new strategy is to pay more attention to helping customers adapt.

“We’ve considered a lot of different scenarios to help traditional PC users move forward as well as making usability that much better on all devices,” she said.

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