Microsoft has finally broken its silence about Blue, a code name that not only refers to a Windows 8 operating system update, but also encompasses a large swath of the software giant's product and services portfolio.
Apart from some fleeting job ads or casual mentions like the ones in a TechFest 2013 presentation featuring an upcoming version of the Fresh Paint app, Microsoft has largely remained mum on the topic of Blue. Lately, however, the company has been opening up a little.
After recounting some recent company milestones and accomplishments in a blog post, Microsoft's vice president of corporate communications, Frank X. Shaw, made one of the first official mentions of Blue. Just don't expect the code name to survive the journey to a commercial launch, he warned.
"With a remarkable foundation of products in market and a clear view of how we will evolve the company, product leaders across Microsoft are working together on plans to advance our devices and services, a set of plans referred to internally as 'Blue,' " Shaw wrote in a March 26 post. However, the changes of the products retaining the name Blue after release "are slim to none," he wrote.
Blue is the first major update planned for Windows 8. A leaked build recently revealed a wealth of tweaks and optimizations, most of them centered on the operating system's tablet-friendly tiled UI, sparking concern that the venerable Windows desktop is being phased out.
Blue may also spell the end of Microsoft's tradition of issuing "service packs." Instead Microsoft will likely shift to a more predictable upgrade schedule similar to the tactic that Apple employs with its "big cat" OS X releases. Shaw's comments suggest that Blue may emerge as the highest-profile example of the company's new development and product cycle strategy.
"Our customers have already experienced the ongoing rhythm of updates and innovations over the past six months including new devices, new apps and services, better performance and new capabilities. This continuous development cycle is the new normal across Microsoft. We'll tune everyday experiences as well as introduce bold, connected and exciting new scenarios," stated Shaw.
Expect deeper integration and more seamless experiences going forward, added Shaw. "Our product groups are also taking a unified planning approach so people get what they want—all of their devices, apps and services working together wherever they are and for whatever they are doing," he assured.
Apart from acquiring a leaked copy of Windows Blue, the public may get some hands-on time with the OS upgrade at Microsoft's Build developer conference, which is scheduled to take place in San Francisco June 26-28, 2013.
"At Build, we'll share updates and talk about what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more," wrote Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steve Guggenheimer in a March 26 blog post.
While not an explicit acknowledgement that Blue will make an appearance, insiders have revealed to The Verge's Tom Warren that Microsoft is preparing a preview for the conference.
"Microsoft is gearing up to release its first public preview version of Windows Blue at its Build developer conference in late June. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have revealed that the company started work on a 'milestone preview' version of Windows Blue earlier this month," reported Warren.