Ahead Of Build, Tastes Of Microsoft’s Coming Platform Changes

Microsoft’s Build developer conference kicks off in a month, making it not surprising that we’re seeing increasing leaks and noise regarding platform changes the company is working on that may be unveiled at the shindig.

Over the past few days, the Windows Phone app emulator has caused chatter due to an uncovered reference to Windows Phone 8.5. Well, of course Microsoft is working on new and later editions of its smartphone platform, right? But the 8.5 numerical indicator is interesting as it implies that there is another numbered release after Windows Phone 8.1 — which we should get in the next few weeks — that is not the fused Windows RT-Windows Phone platform.

So, the reduction of ‘Windows’ from three to two platforms is perhaps not as close as you might have hoped. What did the emulator disclose? A minor user interface change to Live Tiles. There isn’t much dreg to dredge for in that.

On the other side of the pane, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is collecting reviews over on Neowin, where users who snagged the code after Microsoft accidentally started sending a build of the new edition to the public via Windows Update are sharing their experiences.

That site’s John Callaham collated a few responses, which varied from the positive to the less so. Two, for flavor:

“You know, I’m really enjoying this update. Feels very smooth with nice little improvements across the board. Once again a step in the right direction, as far as I’m concerned.” (Source)

“This update is a step in the right direction but it certainly doesn’t eliminate the quagmire that is the Metro-Desktop integration.” (Source)

The gist from that is that Microsoft is, as expected, smoothing Windows 8.1 from a keyboard-mouse perspective, and continuing work to make the Metro-desktop divide less cavernous. Users who wanted that mix of changes will be happy, while folks who just want Windows 7 will continue to be disappointed.

The takeaway from the above is that we have spent quite a lot of time thinking about what Microsoft will build and release in the short term, and too little time asking what comes after that. We’ll correct that between now, Build, and the ensuing months.