ZDNet originally revealed Windows Blue back in August. It's supposedly the codename for the next interim release, but at the time it was unknown if this release would be the first service pack, or a feature pack that would include both a rollup of fixes and new platform features. Much of the report was speculation although sources claimed it would be released in the summer of 2013.
A new report regarding Windows Blue claims that the "Blue" reference is actually the company's code name for a plan to standardize regular yearly updates to consumers of both Windows and Windows Phone platforms. This plan will begin next summer with the next desktop and mobile OS release although this latest report seemingly indicates that it's a full-blown platform launch rather than a mere service pack.
According to the report, Microsoft will offer the next release at an extremely low price point – much like it's currently doing with the Windows 8 Pro upgrade – or offer it for free to ensure that all Microsoft customers upgrade to the latest platform. Once the new platforms are launched, the SDKs will be updated and Microsoft will cease accepting apps developed for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms. Don’t' worry: current apps will still work in the newer release, sources said.
Interestingly enough, sources claim that Microsoft will stick with the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 labels for the foreseeable future. That said, the next yearly update slated for Summer 2013 may upgrade current consumers to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, reverting back to the pre-Windows 95 numbering system. Or maybe we'll see Windows 8 Second Edition and Third Editions? Nah... it would much easier for Microsoft to keep both platforms on the name numerical system.
Lastly, sources said that consumers will naturally need a legitimate version of Windows to upgrade to the 2013 release. Those updating from a pirated copy will see their apps and the Windows Store itself case functioning. No surprise there.
Now here's something else to chew on. A recent DigiTimes report claimed that Microsoft chose Foxconn to manufacture Surface smartphones for a mid-2013 release. Coincidence? Probably not. As previously mentioned, Microsoft likely plans to launch a new build of Windows Phone 8 on the rumored Surface device much like Google does with its Nexus devices. This is probably the very OS release described in the "Blue" reports.