Don't like Windows now? Wait a few months for the upgrade

Rumors about Windows 8.1 updates and Windows 9 indicate Microsoft is serious about stepping up its development pace

If rumors can be believed -- and absent clear communications out of Redmond, rumors will be parsed and passed on at a feverish rate -- Microsoft is serious about stepping up the pace of Windows development. It's yet another sign that the new Microsoft is finally getting with the times.

Recent leaks from Russian blogger Wzor and Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft sources indicate that the company's nine-month-old unified Operating System Group is gunning for a Windows update every four or five months. To a world accustomed to waiting three or four years between OSes, this is dizzying stuff. Foley says:

The powers-that-be are encouraging the Windows development team to see how much they can get done within a much shorter timeframe and then plan to deliver whatever is baked in the next few months. That's a much different way of operating from the carefully (overly?) orchestrated plan/build/test/deliver schedule the team followed in building Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Wzor claims that a second update to Windows 8.1 will drop in September (Foley's sources say August, but at any rate, just in time for back-to-school and holiday sales) and will include the version of a new Start menu that Microsoft showed off at its Build conference this month. This second update -- speculation over what it will be called ranges from Windows 8.2 or Windows 8.1 Update 2 to (Windows 8.1 Update) Update or 81UpUp -- is "unlikely to include the ability to run Metro-Style apps in floating windows on the desktop." Stay tuned for Windows 9, reportedly coming in the spring of 2015, for that feature.

WinSuperSite's Paul Thurrott believes the reason Microsoft is being "cagey and vague" with Windows details is because "Microsoft doesn't want to commit to releasing these and other updates at a specific time and in a specific update. And not because they might be late. Because they might be early.... Microsoft [is] decoupling these new features from major product revisions. Instead, they will deliver them as soon as they can."

One factor spurring the new development pace is undoubtedly the need to fix Windows 8 and drive up adoption. As InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard observes, "The term 'Windows 8' is anathema in the market. Everybody, from CEOs to 7-11 clerks, from Tallahassee to Timbuktu 'knows' that there are problems with Windows 8."

There's also recognition in Redmond that the times, they are a-changin'. As Thurrott says, "In this age of cloud computing and the 'evergreening' of the services we use every day, Windows needs to be quicker. And [Executive VP] Terry Myerson is making it happen."

With Windows now being used in just about every major consumer product that Microsoft makes, GottaBeMobile points out that "the OSG has to keep enabling software features on different products quickly or risk getting left in the dust by iOS and Android."

Another sign of the changing times: Microsoft will reportedly debut a free, cloud-based version of Windows this fall. By giving away a basic version of Windows and requiring a subscription to add a fuller set of capabilities and features, Microsoft would be carrying its new business model for Office over to Windows Cloud. Microsoft's recently released Office on iPad requires users to have an Office 365 subscription to add features.

Whatever the motivation, the accelerating pace of upgrades is good news for Windows diehards.

This story, "Don't like Windows now? Wait a few months for the upgrade," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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