Windows and Windows Phone 8 customers are hearing some details about Microsoft's plan for updating each system in the coming months, and it starts with a public preview of Windows Blue by the end of June.
Windows 8 Second Launch
Windows Blue will actually be Windows 8.1, a minor update that will be available from the Windows Store for no cost to Windows 8 owners, Tami Reller, CFO and CMO of Microsoft's Windows division said at a JP Morgan investor conference this week.
The end of June release date for the preview build coincides with the opening of a Microsoft developer conference in San Francisco, but most of the other details have yet to trickle out about the update. As the 8.1 name implies, it won't be a complete overhaul of the system, and for those who are actually happy with Windows 8, it won't even be an automatic update.
Instead, once the update is made available in the Windows Store, those who want it can download it and everyone else can push on the widely panned existing version. The final version should be ready by the end of 2013, just in time for the holiday sales push. Windows 8.1 will be available for all Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows RT systems.
The Wall Street Journal referred to the 8.1 update as a second launch of Windows 8 given the widespread grief expressed from many who made the switch. The split desktop and lack of intuitive controls throughout have made for much Internet fodder about how poorly Microsoft designed Windows 8. Bloggers over at the New York Times Bits blog are saying Microsoft will attempt to bridge that learning curve gap with the 8.1 release.
Daniel Perez, a blogger over at Ubergizmo, was happy to hear 8.1 would be a voluntary upgrade because of how annoying it is to forcibly install an update.
Windows Phone 8 Update this Summer
As for Windows 8 fans, we have a few more details about upcoming features, but we're sadly less sure about a time frame for a release date. All we know is the update known as GDR2 (general distribution release) will come out this summer.
There also appears to be a third update coming out this fall. Microsoft first updated Windows Phone 8 in 2012 with a release codenamed Portico. It featured Wi-Fi and messaging improvements, and the next update appears to be about the same size as the first one. Windows Phone 8 users can look forward to support for FM radio, and the ability for Data Sense to be available for more carriers to offer, according to a Windows Phone blog post.
Other updates include an Xbox Music update and support for Google's latest sync protocols that ensure its services can continue to work on Microsoft devices.