Windows Blue: Screenshots, whispers, and the promise of a fresher OS

Don't confuse Windows Blue with Windows 9. Still, the OS upgrade may pack some worthwhile goodies, including Internet Explorer 11. 

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shows a Surface tablet before the launch of Windows 8 operating system in New York. Windows Blue, an updated version of Windows 8, could hit computers later this year.

Although Microsoft has declined to talk about it, Windows Blue – an upgrade to Windows 8 – almost certainly exists, and will most likely be hitting computers and mobile devices sometime this year. The latest Windows Blue leaks arrived over the weekend, with a series of screenshots and videos of Windows Blue, including an in-depth, hands-on WinBeta clip

It's worth noting that Windows Blue isn't Windows 9. Nor is it an overhauled version of Windows 8. Instead, it's a rejiggering, a tweaking, a refining of the original Windows 8 OS. Among the updates: More color options and the ability to better organize, resize, and customize tiles. Multitasking will be easier with Windows Blue, says WinBeta, as will managing gads of desktop traffic. 

"The biggest changes are really in the settings part of the Start Screen," Tom Warren of The Verge recently wrote. "Users can now access new networking and apps sections that provide access to additional options not available in Windows 8. Networking lets you switch connections on and off, and there's a quick way to add VPN settings too. In the new Apps section you can view how much storage apps are taking up and also take control of when notifications are shown thanks to a new quiet mode." 

Windows 8 sales were steady if slightly underwhelming through the holiday shopping season – more recently, Information Week reported that Windows 8 sales seemed to be "stalled." Will Windows Blue bring attention back to the platform in the longterm? Unclear. But over at Beta News, Joe Wilcox argues that at the very least, Blue represents a positive development for Microsoft, which is finally speeding up its OS development cycle. 

"[The] situation is this: Google cranks out new Android, Chrome and Chrome OS updates at frenetic pace, along with a plethora of supporting services," Wilcox writes. "Meanwhile, Microsoft development, by comparison, is more like IBM at the end of the mainframe era set against the PC. Microsoft really, really, really needs to pick up the pace." 

Interestingly, WebProNews believes Windows Blue will ship with Internet Explorer 11 – a good reason, in of itself, to upgrade. Launch date of Windows Blue is unclear, but we'd put our money on the early fall – more or less a full year after the initial release of Windows 8. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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