On Tuesday, Microsoft gave us some Windows Blue news we all wanted to hear (alright, some of us): a release date. The follow-up to Windows 8, often called “Windows 8.1″ or simply “Blue”, is due out later this year and aims to correct all the wrongs of the company’s drastically redesigned OS. It should come as a surprise to no one that Windows 8 has had a tepid reception since launch, with a staggering number of people being put off by the Start screen and lack of a traditional Start button. Change can be a good thing, but only if it’s good change.
Back in March, a build of Windows Blue leaked, proving to us that some Start screen improvements will be making their way into the OS. At the very least, this includes customization enhancements, such as being able to scale tiles smaller and larger, and choose the exact color scheme you want; not choose from a small preset of Microsoft choices.
For its part, Microsoft isn’t ignorant of the fact that a lot of people don’t care for the changes introduced with Windows 8. Tami Reller, head of marketing for Microsoft’s Windows division, states, “Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely. She goes on to state that “There is a learning curve (to Windows 8) and we can work to address that.“
I can agree on both counts. As I mentioned in a quick look at ASUS Tutor a couple of months ago, had I not made use of this app while testing out some Ultrabooks, I still wouldn’t have known about the bottom left-hand corner + right-click shortcut to bring me to various parts of the OS fast. No one knows this until they’re told about it or happen to stumble-upon it by accident.
Here’s what’s currently up in the air: is Windows Blue going to be a free upgrade? I hate to jump to conclusions, but I believe it should be, unless the company at its upcoming June developer’s conference unveils new features that warrant an upgrade fee – and even then, it’s going to have to be modest to be justified given Windows 8 was released just last October.
What’s your speculation on this, and what do you hope Windows Blue fixes or adds?