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Summer Windows 'Blue' Test Build Will Be Public Preview

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports that a test build of Windows "Blue" set to be released this summer will be a public preview.

Previous reports have indicated that Windows "Blue" is supposed to enter the release-to-manufacturing phase (RTM) by June 7, and go retail in August. Like the recent Windows 8 upgrade promotion, this update is expected to cost around $40, offering enhancements and fixes to the current Windows 8 platform.

Microsoft's Windows Blue scheme reportedly aims to eliminate the platform jumps as seen with prior Windows versions by releasing yearly updates. Not only is this cheaper for the consumer, but makes new features more readily available and reduces the time from RTM to public release. The Office 360 subscription model does something similar by offering a continuously evolving product for a monthly or yearly fee.

ZDNet, basing information from multiple unnamed sources and Win8China, claims that Microsoft will offer a public "milestone preview" build before the Windows 8.1 update reaches its second RTM milestone. This preview will likely provide a few tweaks and enhancements to several apps to convince consumers into purchasing the full update later on.

According to reports, Windows 8.1, which seemingly moves the OS back into the incremental numbering system used in Windows 3.x, will include tweaks to the user experience, new dev-platform related nuggets, and new versions of Internet Explorer, Mail, Calendar, Bing and other integrated Modern UI apps. There may also be kernel and driver-level updates to help with mobile battery life and overall performance.

Win8China claims that Windows 8.1 will provide scalability improvements for apps listed in the Windows Store so that they're displayed correctly on screens of different sizes. The site also claims that the "Blue" OS refresh will actually be free for those who already own Windows 8, meaning it may cost $40 to Windows 7 and prior users as an upgrade for a limited time. That said, the update may only be free for Windows 8 users for a limited time as well.

ZDNet reports that in addition to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, other Microsoft products scheduled to get this summer's "Blue" treatment include Windows Server, Outlook.com and SkyDrive. Skype will also likely get the "Blue" treatment this April as Microsoft begins to shut down Messenger and shove users over onto the newer, hipper VoIP client.

The report points out an interesting detail that seemingly backs up a recent rumor provided by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek. Unnamed sources claim that the Windows Phone "Blue" release is running later than the desktop version, meaning it may not be released until fall/winter 2013 or possibly 2014. Misek previously said that Microsoft's Surface phone, which features the "Blue" build, has been delayed.

"Our checks indicate that Amazon’s phone seems to have been delayed," he said. "Also the launch of the Surface phone from Microsoft has been pushed out."

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  • wildkitten
    I hope Win 8.1 brings back the start button. The firing of the person who made the decision to eliminate it is a good sign that may very well happen.

    Also, allowing someone to choose during install if they wish to have the Metro UI or the normal desktop as their default would also be good. I don't think people hated Metro so much because of what it was, but because it was being forced on users as the default, and coupled with the loss of the Start button in desktop mode it gave people legitimate reason to complain as loud as they have.
    Reply
  • super d spamalot
    wildkittenAlso, allowing someone to choose during install if they wish to have the Metro UI or the normal desktop as their default would also be good. I don't think people hated Metro so much because of what it was, but because it was being forced on users as the default, and coupled with the loss of the Start button in desktop mode it gave people legitimate reason to complain as loud as they have.
    They didn't give the choice to default to a DOS prompt when Windows 95 came out, and now you all can't live without a start menu. They have no reason in the world to put the start button back, because in 2 years everyone will adapt and it won't even be an issue anymore. The Internet idiot parade will have latched on to something new and inconsequential to hate for no good reason.

    If you stop focusing on the past and just learn to use Metro and get to know it, you'll likely find that it's not as bad as you seem to think it is. And even if Metro is that bad (Which it's not) putting up with it would be a tiny, tiny, tiny price to pay for all the other shit that make Windows 8 great.

    Here is a hint: Those of us who say it's awesome don't feel that way because of Metro. We feel that way about the OS in general. I mean, hating Windows 8 because of Metro is like hating Android because the calculator, or the default browser sucks. It's such a tiny part of the whole that you're doing yourself a dis-service by not just getting over it.

    Let the Tom's Hate Machine (TM) downvoting parade begin.
    Reply
  • livebriand
    Honestly, I hope that, after looking at all the lukewarm reviews, they decided to bring back the start button. (or at the very least, make the metro start menu more intuitive - hidden controls aren't obvious by any stretch of imagination) If they've fixed it, I just might upgrade. Otherwise, I'll be on Windows 7 for a VERY long time...

    Note: I don't hate the idea of a fullscreen start menu. I DO, however, hate unnecessarily hidden controls (start screen, shutdown, search - I know you can just start typing at the start screen, etc). Heck, after using 8 on a desktop/laptop for a while (just testing it, still using 7 otherwise), when I used it on a tablet in a store, I couldn't get things like the charms bar to work. I later found out that on a touchscreen, it's a different gesture. So much for being uniform across platforms... The other issue is that I don't want it suggesting ANY tablet things when I search on a desktop. Period. (for instance, search 'windows update') Metro adds NOTHING (aside from a few sorting features on the start screen) for desktops and laptops, and purely gets in the way. Had Microsoft put in a simple option to disable metro, I (and plenty of other people) likely would've upgraded by now. That's all revenue Microsoft chose to throw away for the sake of needlessly shooting themselves in the foot...
    Reply
  • dimar
    MS needs to allow straight boot to the desktop, and release a highly customizable Start Menu.
    Reply
  • vmem
    dimarMS needs to allow straight boot to the desktop, and release a highly customizable Start Menu.
    that is easily doable by changing a few settings
    Reply
  • abbadon_34
    So instead of free updates there are paid updates? How is this good for the consumer?
    Reply
  • lpedraja2002
    So its official now, Microsoft have become Apple. Charging for incremental updates was the last thing missing. I've been using Metro on my laptop a month before it came out and I still think they didn't manage to fully integrate it with Windows 8. Startmenu or not, Metro has a lot of flaws which shouldn't have been present in the final version but still Microsoft decides to keep pushing forward. People's OS choice (according to stats) is making it clear that they need to re-design Windows 8 completely.
    Reply
  • tokencode
    abbadon_34So instead of free updates there are paid updates? How is this good for the consumer?
    It's a free update from Windows 8, it costs money from Windows 7 or earlier. It is the same (actually better since its a newer version) that they offered for Windows 8.
    Reply
  • huggles12
    I want, and believe, the start menu should be brought back. However, with such a focus on touch orientated devices, especially notebooks/ultrabooks with touch screens, I do not see it happening. Also, removing Metro UI(or whatever they insist you call it) will be prove that Microsoft was wrong removing the start menu, something Steve Ballmer, being CEO, would never admit to. Interesting time Microsoft in at the moment.
    Reply
  • lradunovic77
    Windows 8 is unusable meaning you can't get work done. It is operating system which fails four basic principles and that is Control, Context, Continuity and Conveyance. Even Windows 3.1 is better in these areas. No service pack or Windows Blue will fix it unless MS forgets about Windows 8 GUI and goes back to Windows 7 design and rethink whole deal around Metro.
    Reply