Hot on the heels of of Microsoft confirming Windows Blue's existence in a quickly-deleted job posting
, fresh rumours have emerged suggesting that the next-generation operating system may get a release as soon as August - less than a year after the launch of Windows 8.
If you're confused as to why Microsoft would replace Windows 8 so quickly, rumours suggest that the company is giving up on its traditional release cycle in order to be more competitive in the fast-moving world of operating systems. Today's Windows releases typically last for five years or more - Windows XP launched in 2001 and was replaced by Windows Vista in 2006, which was in turn replaced by Windows 7 in 2009 then Windows 8 in 2012 - but that isn't exactly common across the industry: while Apple's OS X is approaching 12 years old, the company releases annual paid-for upgrades; open-source software specialist Canonical, meanwhile, updates its Ubuntu Linux software for free every six months, releasing a long-term support (LTS) version every two years for those who prefer a more sedate upgrade path.
That leaves Microsoft as the odd-one out: while it has done more rapid releases in the past, bringing out Windows XP just one year after Windows Millennium Edition (ME) failed to set the world on fire, it has traditionally stuck with a longer release cycle with free minor upgrades being released as Service Packs.
Windows Blue, the rumours claim, will change all that. The first in a series of rapid-release operating systems, Windows Blue will mark the start of an annual upgrade cycle similar to that offered by Apple. Like Apple, each Windows upgrade will be made available cheaply to those only a version or two out, and like Apple each will include more incremental changes than the jumps seen from Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 8.
So far, so common knowledge: Microsoft's previously-leaked job description for a Windows Blue engineer already confirmed that the next-generation operating system will feature an improved version of the tile-based Modern UI with few changes to its underlying functionality - but it was silent on a launch schedule, and with good reason: Windows Blue may be released as early as August.
According to an unnamed source speaking to Win8China
, Windows Blue will hit Release To Manufacturing (RTM) status in June and then be released to the public in August following a period of developer-centric testing and roll-outs. If you think that's a little soon to be splashing out on a new operating system, there's good news coming with it: an upgrade to Windows Blue will be provided to Windows 8 owners free of charge, as with previous Service Pack releases.
The full details of the changes wrought by Windows Blue are not yet clear, but the site's source claims that the Modern UI will be tweaked with improved functionality offered by the 'Charms,' a new kernel version will bring performance improvements and enhanced battery life, and Modern UI applications will be better able to scale to different display resolutions.
Microsoft, naturally, has refused to comment on the rumours, but with Windows Blue confirmed as an impending product it's looking like Windows 8 users might be upgrading sooner rather than later.