Windows 8 launched to mixed reviews just over half a year ago, and Microsoft has dutifully pushed out nearly 740 tweaks and updates over the intervening months. Even so, rumblings of a sizable update (codenamed “Windows Blue”) have been making the rounds for months now, and we’ve finally got a firm idea of when to expect the first public preview.
Microsoft Windows chief Julie Larson-Green confirmed at the Wired Business Conference today that developers would be able to download and install the Windows Blue update preview in late June to coincide with the company’s BUILD developer conference.
The update will be “available to everyone that has Windows 8 in the Windows 8 store,” she noted to Wired senior editor Michael Copeland. “Just click on it like you would any app and it’ll update your system.” It’s hardly a shock considering that a June preview release date has been rumored for over a month now, but it’s likely welcome news for users who haven’t quite fallen with Windows 8 and its dramatic design changes.
At this point, many of Blue’s juiciest details are still shrouded in mystery — we don’t even know what the update will even be called. People are already bandying about the name Windows 8.1 and Larson-Green wouldn’t refer to it as anything the “update to Windows 8,” though she may have just been dodging the question as the onstage conversation was just about to wrap up. Microsoft seems content to keep most of Blue’s changelog under wraps for the time being too — CFO Tami Reller pointed to a slew of necessary (if vague) changes in a Q&A that was recently posted to Blogging Windows:
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. It will provide more options for businesses, and give consumers more options for work and play. 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.
That said, it seems very likely that at least two major Windows 8 sticking points will be addressed in the coming update. According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, the traditional Windows start button is expected to make its triumphant return, as is the ability to boot directly into the Desktop view rather than having to futz around with the UI-formerly-known-as-Metro.
As it happens, June is going to be a pretty busy month for Microsoft and its hardware partners –Larson-Green noted that the era of smaller Windows 8 devices is nearly upon us, and that portability mavens will be able to get their hands on the first such device in June as well.