Microsoft Buzz: Surface Mini and Windows Blue

Microsoft Buzz: Surface Mini and Windows Blue

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) seems poised to issue an update to Windows 8 later this year -- reports say summer or fall -- code-named Windows Blue. (Coincidence that Azure is a shade of the color Blue?) And there's been quite a buzz about it this week on the Web as the site MSFT Kitchen posted a video of a demo of some of the update's touch capabilities. But there's more going on here than just touch. In recent months there's also been talk of  the potential for Microsoft to release mini version of its Surface tablet, and there have also been reports of a Windows Blue server. What does it all mean, and are there any dots we can connect here?

Here are some of the details we've seen reported:

  • That Microsoft will release a smaller Surface tablet at a lower price point than the existing versions of Surface (some recent reports say $249) and at a form factor comparable to the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus and iPad Mini. (For comparison's sake, prices for these 7-inch tablets are Kindle Fire HD: $199, Google Nexus: $199, iPad Mini: $329.)
  • That the Microsoft Windows Blue operating system will be pitched as an update to Windows 8 rather than the next OS and that it will mark a change from a three-year OS cycle release to a yearly update release. (This dovetails with how software has shifted from a technology that resides on your computer into a something-as-a-service offering.)
  • More powerful email features will come to Surface, for instance Outlook drag and drop.
  • That Blue is about more than one operating system for one device. Instead it's about many devices and services such as Windows Phone, Microsoft SkyDrive and Windows Server, too. It sounds as though Windows Blue is part of a greater transition of Microsoft technology from on-premise to cloud.
Could a Microsoft Blue Server be the next step in the company's onward march from on-premise to the cloud for small business -- the one that may have led to the controversial decision to kill Windows Small Business Server last year? There are still plenty of unknowns here, but chances are partners will get some more clues if they brave the heat of Houston in July to attend Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference there. We'll also be covering any new details here.
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