Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) confirmed an upcoming Windows 8 update, code named Windows Blue, that will enable the touch-enabled operating system to run on more devices (including smaller tablets) and, according to the vendor, addresses some of the criticism levied at the software.
Microsoft also said that its count of Windows 8 licenses sold has reached 100 million, a 67 percent jump from where the figure stood in January, and spans licenses shipped with new tablets or PCs and upgrades.
With Windows Blue chatter building for months, Microsoft first mentioned in late March 2013 plans for an update. What’s expected in the Windows 8 update?
Right off the top, Windows Blue will run on more—as in smaller--devices.
“Windows Blue is a codename for an update that will be available later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PCs,” said Tami Reller, Microsoft chief marketing and chief financial officer, in a blog post. “It will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem.”
Translated, that means expect Windows Blue to be more suited to small screen format tablets, the building and not-yet-cresting-wave in mobile devices. The update also will include Microsoft’s response to critics of Windows 8, who’ve contended it is absent native applications and clunky on backward compatibility with earlier versions of the operating system.
“The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT,” said Reller. “From a company-wide perspective, Windows Blue is part of a broader effort to advance our devices and services for Microsoft.”
Along those lines, as for devices running Windows 8 and Windows RT, Reller said that it stands at some 2,400 devices, “and we’re seeing more and more touch devices in the mix.” That alone clues us in about where Microsoft is headed.
Reller also talked up PCs, addressing the much-discussed and well-documented decline in desktop and notebook sales, contending that the “PC is very much alive and increasingly mobile,” and, in Microsoft’s thinking, is “part of a much broader device market of tablets and PCs.”
So, in other words, PCs now should be considered as but one grove of trees on the IT hardware landscape, whereas once it spanned the entire horizon? Actually, yes. “The PC part of the market is rapidly evolving to include new convertible devices and amazing new touch laptops, and all-in-ones. These new PCs are hitting the market now and into the Back-to-School season, and they are more affordable than ever,” Reller said.
Here are some additional Reller nuggets:
- The number of apps in Microsoft’s Windows Store has increased 6x since launch.
- More than 250 million Store apps have been downloaded in the first six months of Windows 8, and almost 90 percent of Microsoft’s app catalog has been downloaded every month.
- Delivered major updates for Mail, People and Calendar and updated IE10 so that Flash works by default.
- SkyDrive users worldwide total some 250 million people.
- The Outlook.com integration with Skype, active in the U.K. now, will launch in the U.S. and Germany in a few weeks and worldwide in a few months.
- The Outlook.com update Hotmail users is done. The newly-Web enabled software now has some 400 million accounts.