Windows “Blue” is a product which you may or may not have heard of, but may have been expecting to be called “Windows 9” at some point in the future. Windows 8 was a very big change to the way that users interact with their Windows computer – Or at least people want to assume. The reality is that after getting used to Windows 8, most users will admit that little about interaction has changed, although, there are several tools and features in Windows 8 that were not available in previous operating systems. But I won’t get into that here.
Windows “Blue” is allegedly the next upgrade to the Windows family of operating systems. Why did Microsoft change their naming scheme? Perhaps because they are also changing the way the products work.
There is not a lot of information available yet about what exactly all of the changes Blue will make, or what we should expect it to cost, however, there are several leaks as well as estimations about what to expect. Some speculate that Windows Blue may be switching the platform over to a subscription-based license, as Microsoft has been implementing with their “Office 365”, now just called “Office”, rather than a per-user license based installation. Office 365 has been growing in popularity, however, more people have purchased lifetime licenses of 2013 instead, especially in the business world. It is still very possible that Windows users may have the option to purchase lifetime licenses rather than subscribe to updates – But that doesn’t mean that subscriptions aren’t going to be a requirement in the near future.
Of the leaks that have been presented out to the Internet, many are disappointed that the Metro interface is here to stay. Windows Blue looks a lot like Windows 8, and the start button is currently not integrated, although it wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft finally added a way to allow use of the classic start menu once again. Others say that adding the option to allow the old style of start menu allows users to not get used to the Metro interface, which is the interface that many applications are now being written to cater to, and that Microsoft more fully supports.
One great feature that mobile users were especially in need of is the ability to open more than two things at once in the Metro interface. The split-screen feature was definitely a step in the right direction, however, it was very limited and perhaps annoying the way that it was previously setup. In Windows Blue, it seems the only limiting factor is the size of the display which you are using – As you can have up to seven windows open at a time on one screen in the Metro interface! It is obvious that with Windows Blue, Microsoft is still catering even more to the tablet, phone, and otherwise ultra-mobile device user. Windows Aero (7/vista interface) remains intact for business and productivity workers, however, I would not be surprised if the long-term goal was to get rid of aero completely to usher in the new interface. The Windows interface everyone has come to know and love is getting stale – And Microsoft knows it. Many competing Operating systems (Mac, Linux varieties) have been changing their user interface extensively in each version. The users love this change of scenery, however Windows users tend to hate it… for now!
Further into the design of the Metro interface: The buttons are now scalable to one more, mini size. This adds for increased possibilities in constructing your Metro Interface, as well as adding more potential icons in less screen space. This will be great for mobile computers and desktop computers alike. The settings to change the theme, color, background of the new start menu is also now located in the start screen’s settings page, rather than in the settings application. On top of that, the settings application now has a search box integrated into it, which is currently not fully functional, but by the release of Windows Blue, will hopefully help users to find the setting changes that they need to make much faster than sorting through the entire list.
One last feature that is obvious about Windows Blue – is Internet Explorer 11. IE11 does not change a whole lot about IE10, however, it does offer small improvements to HTML5 rendering, as well as it is likely to start picking up code similar to the way Firefox currently works. This may definitely continue to change the browser world in the way that IE10 already has. Internet Explorer appears to be an option, once again!
With the little information you have to go off of, it is clear that there will definitely be some big improvements to Windows 8 come Blue, however, there are still lots of questions yet to be answered.