As expected, Microsoft's Windows Blue release blanket will consist of Windows Pro 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, slated to hit RTM around August of 2013. The news is based on a screenshot from a more recent version of Windows 8, Build 9375, which follows the Build 9364 version that was leaked just last week.
Unnamed sources have confirmed with ZDNet that the latest screenshot is no April Fools' joke, and that Microsoft is expected to roll out the incremental updates in August. The news backs up comments made by Microsoft executives like Windows Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller who said that Windows 8 is a "product of multiple selling seasons".
The recent leak showed that the Redmond company isn't planning to launch a whole new OS, but to make enhancements and changes that surpass a mere Service Pack. Some critics claim the update will make the desktop even more irrelevant by pushing additional core utilities to the Modern UI interface.
Currently there's no indication that Microsoft plans to bring the Start button back despite consumers complaining over the missing feature long before the OS went retail. If anything, this feature should have a toggle switch, allowing those upgrading to Windows 8 to slowly get used to the idea rather than cut them off from the Start menu completely.
Meanwhile, rumors of Microsoft cutting Windows RT licensing fees has surfaced again, this time by Topeka Capital analyst Brian White. He's currently on a "China-Taiwan Technology Tour" talking to people in the industry who claim that Microsoft wants to take on Android by reducing the price of Windows 8 for tablets by 35- to 40-percent.
The problem Microsoft faces is that Google offers the Android OS for free. Google also doesn't depend on software and hardware sales, but rather revenue generated from ads. Microsoft's meat and potatoes is Windows although its Xbox and Windows Phone divisions help keep Steve Blamer's pockets full of cash. That said, Microsoft may not be able to fully compete because OEMs will likely choose a free OS over one with a licensing fee.
In addition to fighting Android, Microsoft is also trying to lure in Mac and iOS developers by offering free copies of Windows 8 Pro and Parallels Desktop 8 via a QuickStart kit on a USB stick. Actually it's not free: potential developers are required to donate $25 to one of three charities, and $8 for shipping ($16 outside the U.S.).
"Costs to purchase software and licensing can be difficult if you’re that startup looking for your first big breakthrough," said Sandeep Singhal, Group Program Manager, Internet Explorer. "Today we’re making it just a little easier with a new combo offer."
For more information about the QuickStart Kit, head here.