Hot summer nights, dreamed of by the cold in the midst of winter’s freeze and dreaded while the summer heatwave stretches on, hot summer nights can drive people to strange places.
Slouching back in my chair, fans blowing from all directions there was a knock at the door. Come in, its open i croaked, my throat course from too many cigarettes. The sign on the door Highpants for Hire Please Come In’ never did have the desired effect. The door swung open and she stood before me, she said her name was Blue, Windows Blue.
I have been sent by Microsoft she quietly whispered, sent to show you the future. Her cartoonish good looks and tall curvy figure had my attention. The fact it took me a moment to process the name Microsoft is a testament to my distraction.
Fans whirred swinging from left to right, managing to simply move hot air on one pass and then the next. The hottest summer on record seemed determined to not only set records but shatter the record books themselves.
Take a seat I said while gesturing to the leather couch to my right. Do you have something for me? She looked at me puzzled for a moment, talking quietly her voice filled my mind, yes I am Windows Blue. I am here for you, plug me in.
Microsoft’s Windows Blue she is a mysterious creature, far more than a service pack but not quite a brand new Operating System. Similar in many ways to Apple’s big cat updates, which they charge for. Representing a fundamental change in when Microsoft delivers it OS, and potentially how it charges for the privilege.
Annual major updates are only one part of the new equation, the term annual and subscription just go together far too well and Microsoft knows it. Though it is unclear if the new subscription system will completely supersede the now common once off upfront cost. There is even a possible third option of a hybrid small upfront cost and minimal annual fee system. Will Microsoft soon be starting the Windows club, with subscriptions and Mickey Mouse hats for all?
Blue is an evolutionary step for the Metro style that Microsoft worked so hard to establish with Windows 8 Pro. Blue sees the Start Menu being further refined and the Metro Interface tweaked to improve user experience.
Blue will also bring consistency across all of Microsoft’s platforms; Windows RT, Server, Outlook, SkyDrive and Windows Phone 8 will all receive their own Blue update. Another part of the new unified Windows world.
The Bing Search team has been brought in tinker with Blue, improving the Search functionality of Blue’s charms. While also allowing apps and media to co-mingle in search results. Blue on Windows 8 Pro will also see Microsoft revamp a number of the standard applications, giving the Blue treatment to eMail, Calendar and IE 11.
It might feel a little like digging a hole and filling it back in but Microsoft has busily spent the last few years building Windows for every platform only to now start unifying them all. A process that will see Microsoft attempt to build a common code base that will reunite all versions of the OS. Providing developers with a single platform where they can write code once and compile it for every Windows platform. A very worthy and ambitious goal.
Windows 8 Phone Blue
Microsoft has done some serious tinkering under the bonnet of Windows 8 Phone for the Blue update. Pro, RT and Phone versions of the OS will receive a major kernel update, re-writing many of the operating systems core functions. Behind the scenes Blue also brings the platforms closer to being a single common code base, a common platform. In theory if Microsoft still has some coding magic left all of this should provide faster performance and lower power usage through more efficient code across all versions.
Blue for Microsoft Phone sees the resizable tiles continue to evolve with new settings and more flexible configuration. Supported display resolutions increases to 1080p, while the graphics scaling technology has been improved to help apps look better at the higher resolutions.
Getting to know Blue was a brief reprisal from the oppressive heat; I did ask her early on ‘how is this supposed to cool me down? Make me sweaty yes, cool me down no!’ She simply smiled and I forgot what I had asked.
Everyone wanting to meet Blue for themselves will have to wait for the public preview in June while the final release should be late September, keeping with Microsoft’s soon to be annual release schedule.
Microsoft, they are shifting into top gear but can they get traction?