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Microsoft Opens Up About Windows 'Blue,' Plans Beta for June

The final release of Windows "Blue," the code name for Microsoft's ill-defined operating system update, will arrive in time for this year's holiday shopping season, according to a press account.

That approximate release timespan for Windows Blue was noted in an Associated Press story published on Tuesday. The story sometimes quotes Tami Reller, chief marketing officer and chief financial officer at Microsoft's Windows Division, who has given interviews to various press outlets this week. However, it's not clear if that holiday season release date information comes from Reller. She has only stated that Windows Blue will be available "later this year."

Microsoft did confirm that a public preview of Windows Blue will arrive in late June, to coincide with the Microsoft Build conference. Microsoft plans to talk more about Windows Blue before Build starts, according to Reller, per the AP's account.

Microsoft also plans to change the Windows Blue code name to something else when that product is released.

Microsoft also disclosed on Tuesday that it has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses, up from 60 million announced in January, in an announcement attributed to Reller. The AP story quotes Reller as saying that this 100 million Windows 8 sales figure "is in the same general ballpark" compared with Windows 7 six months out.

Reller clarified that the new Windows 8 sales count is based on the number of tablets or PCs shipped, plus Windows 8 upgrades. That number may include stockpiled devices that haven't been sold, but that clarification wasn't made by Reller. Windows 8 adoption has already been observed as faring worse than Windows Vista four months from release, per measurements performed by Net Applications, tapping Web traffic.

According to Reller, Windows Blue will be Microsoft's attempt "to respond to the customer feedback that we've been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT." She told CNNMoney that Microsoft is working to make Windows 8 easier to use.

"We need to work to address a real learning curve with Windows 8. That's a big challenge for us," Reller stated, according to a CNNMoney story.

Reller refused to say whether Microsoft would charge for Windows Blue, per the AP interview. Windows Blue will add improvements to Windows 8 for smaller tablets, supporting screen sizes of seven or eight inches in width, Reller told the AP. Peter Klein, Microsoft's outgoing chief financial officer for Microsoft Corporate, previously described Microsoft's plans to support smaller device sizes with Windows 8. The new devices, coming in the second half of this year, may feature new power-saving processors from Intel, such as Haswell or Bay Trail, possibly at lower prices.

On a side note, a Washington Post story is indicating that Reller is being considered for Microsoft's corporate chief financial officer position being vacated by Klein. Other contenders for the position listed in that story include with Amy Hood of Microsoft Finance and Rik van der Kooi, chief operating officer at Microsoft Online Services.

Microsoft dished out various progress statistics on Tuesday, in addition to delivering its oblique Windows Blue news. The company reports that there are now 2,400 Windows 8 and Windows RT certified devices. The company claims that its Windows Store has delivered more than 250 million app downloads in its first six months and that the number of apps in the Windows Store has increased six times since its launch. Reller told the AP that the Windows Store has "more than 60,000" Windows 8 apps. The AP story suggested that Microsoft is competing with more than 800,000 apps apiece that are available for Apple and Android devices.

Microsoft account users now total more than "700 million active accounts." Skype integration with the Outlook.com e-mail service will be expanding worldwide in "the coming months." Microsoft also has "more than 250 million" users of its SkyDrive cloud-based storage service, according to Microsoft's announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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