While Windows 8 has underwhelmed, the upcoming update for Microsoft’s flagship unified OS, codenamed Blue, has generated a lot of buzz online. Will Microsoft back away from its mobile-first, touch screen focus? Will it bring back the start button? Will Blue be a substantive change, or just Windows 8.1?
We’ll know for sure when Microsoft releases Windows Blue in public preview by the end of June. Until then, here are some of the top Blue rumours circulating on the Internet’s pipes and tubes.
One of the biggest gripes about Windows 8 has been the lack of the traditional Windows Start button, and it’s also the focus of many of the Blue rumours.
Many users are utilizing third-party add-ons that seek to replicate the functionality.
Microsoft has signaled it may bring back a Start button, but probably without the traditional program menu. Rather, it will probably be a way to access the Windows 8 Start Screen.
Another regular Windows 8 gripe is that Microsoft won’t let you boot straight to the desktop, instead bringing you to that tiled start menu first. Fine for tablet users, but a bit annoying for deskop business users.
While anything can change until the update is launched, there are now rumours that this could change in 8.1. An examination of leaked code for an early 8.1 build shows the ability to skip past the screen, although it’s not turned on yet.
According to a rumour roundup from Tech Radar, with Windows 8.1 Microsoft will allow you to run apps side-by-side on a smaller device, such as a tablet, with usable resolution.
It will also introduce Snap Views, so you can share your screen 50/50 and across multiple monitors, and not just 70:30 as today.
Along with Windows Blue, we’ll also get version 11 of Microsoft’s flagship web browser, Internet Explorer? What can we expect in IE11? According to Geek.com, SkyDrive-powered browser synchronization will support your active tabs, similar to Chrome and Firefox, so you can take your browsing from device to device.
The download manager has been tweaked, and WebGL support is also expected.
While there’s something cute about the name Windows Blue – and it would fit in with Microsoft’s annoying habit of regularly changing its Windows naming regime (See 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 7, et al.), this won’t be the official name when the offering is eventually released. Instead, the word is to expect it to be called Windows 8.1.
It fits in with the current naming structure, and signals this is an incremental update, not an overhaul. This is supported by the leaked image from winforum.eu.