Rumor: Microsoft to start releasing new versions of Windows annually

Microsoft may be preparing to take a page out of Apple’s playbook for its next major operating system update. The Verge reports that in mid-2013 Microsoft will launch the next version of Windows, code-named Windows Blue. But it won’t be the same kind of major event we’ve seen every few years from Microsoft.

Instead, Microsoft will make the update available to all existing Windows 8 users for free or for a low cost. New updates will be released about once a year using the same system.

Windows 8 logo

In other words, Windows upgrades will be a lot more like OS X upgrades, which typically bring new features and improvements without dramatically shaking up the operating system for around $30.

According to The Verge, Blue is just a code-name, and the operating system will continue to be called Windows 8. Apps designed for Windows 8 will also be able to run on the next version.

But Microsoft will reportedly launch an updated software developer kit and the company will stop accepting apps into the Windows Store if they’re written for older versions of Windows once a new version is available.

That, along with the low or no-price upgrades sound like a good way to ensure that users keep their computers up to date.

You can find more details at The Verge… but nothing has been confirmed by Microsoft yet.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    Hmm. Several thoughts…

    1) They are perhaps bowing to the inevitable. Desktop OS’s have evolved to the point where major upgrades every few years aren’t really necessary anymore (I’m on a computer with WinXP and have no plans to upgrade it to a newer OS).

    2) The vast majority of people only upgrade when they get a new computer anyway, so most of the profit from OS sales are tied to hardware sales anyway and going to a yearly upgrade model won’t hurt them.

    3) Indeed, depending on the price, MS may stand to gain billions though some kind of subscription model (a la Office) or yearly upgrade fee from customers who would otherwise not be interested in switching to a new OS version.

    4) Incremental updates should be a darn-sight easier to manage and debug than major new releases, and thus lower operating costs.

    5) It evens out the boom/bust cycle that tends to see a large drop in hardware sales in the months running up to a new version of Windows. The h/w manufacturers will like it, as will Wall Street probably.

    6) Finally, I would be shocked if this change doesn’t end up with the customer paying more to MS in the end. That seems to be the way things go with most corporations these days, bowing to pressure from their Wall Street overlords. The new MS Office subscription plan is a perfect example — you can now pay yearly for something you used to pay for once every five to ten years or so.

    One key question is, will you have to pay for the new yearly versions to get service updates to fix bugs in the current version — if you do then this really is mostly a money grab by MS in the face of the beginning of the end for their tradition OS business model.

    • Guest008

      7) It’s also a way to put Windows cost directly on customers. OEMs will definitely like it. We can imagine new machines sold with a Windows that has yet to be activated.

      OEMs will still support the cost of implementation but not the license’s one.

      8) Will MS keep on launching NEW OSes (not only these yearly upgrades) at similar prices than today every 3 years or so?
      If it’s the case, Windows will definitely be more expensive from now on.

      9) Will MS force customers to upgrade to newer version by refusing access to its app store to previous Windows version? Like Apple did with iOS 6 (but keeping in mind that iOS upgrades are ‘free’.)
      This:
      “the company will stop accepting apps into the Windows Store if they’re written for older versions of Windows once a new version is available.”
      seems to be a sneaky way to do just that.

    • Guest008

      PS:

      “will you have to pay for the new yearly versions to get service updates to fix bugs in the current version ”

      I don’t think MS will let bugs and security issues unattended for a year. Or they just as well create bugs on purpose and make you pay to fix something that shouldn’t even be there in the first place.

      This thing can go far, really.

      BUT it means that incremental updates (and not bug/security fixes) will now be of the paying sort. No more free apps (not only MS’ones but all of tose being in the App store it seems) upgrades.

      This will be a double layer of upgrade fee. Onewhen we pay the app to its designer (MS or any developper) and one for MS for us to have access to the upgraded app in the App store.

      And to be sure we pay double, MS won’t even allow apps designed for previous version in the App store.

      If MS also takes a percentage or a fee from devs (to be in the app store), this will be a 3 layer fee.

      Fantastic business model! Thanks MS.

  • dibob

    another disaster in the making

    • Guest008

      It may be the perfect time for Google to improve ChromeOS and distribute it for free or even at low cost with less restrictions.

  • Darko

    How the pessimist in me reads this:

    MS will no longer be issuing Service Packs for free, instead they’ve changed the name and will charge a “nominal fee” for the same thing. They will force you into updating by making new/updated Metro apps incompatible with systems that been haven’t updated.

    Windows 8 costs $40 but over it’s lifetime could cost more than $100. Hardly a bargain.

    • http://nortonpeabody.blogspot.com/ Norton Peabody

      Wow, your inner pessimist and my inner pessimist must be identical twins separated @ birth… something tells me that they could be triplets or possibly even quintuplets……

      • Darko

        I’ve always suspected that MS would move away from a 1 time license fee to a subscription fee. This looks like the first step. Security updates weren’t so much of an issue until the turn of the century and it’s been a drain on resources ever since.

        However, disabling support for legacy apps won’t appeal to Enterprises. Win32 will remain the API of choice if they do decide to move forward with this. A subscription based model should incentivize MS to continue support for legacy OSes and is why I question the legitimacy of this portion of the rumor.

        P.S. so maybe it wasn’t the pessimist but the realist. ;-)

      • Paul

        The rumor doesn’t mention they’re disabling legacy apps. The article says existing apps on Windows 8 will work on later versions of the OS.

  • http://nortonpeabody.blogspot.com/ Norton Peabody

    The current MS app scheme is already fragmented with the phone, RT and Win8 situation and now we’re possibly adding an app surcharge for OS upgrades….nice… My hopes were that they might charge once for an app and allow the purchaser the opportunity to download the appropriate version to each of their various MS devices but that’s dreaming, somebody just slap me back into reality….

  • Jeff

    I only upgrade Windows when I buy a new PC. If it costs me more than the original cost of the hardware then Linux here I come.

  • Art Cancro

    This sounds like Microsoft is desperate to grab as much revenue as possible before their “pay money for an operating system” scam finally collapses.

  • ARXD

    Another reason to stick to my Ubuntu!!! It is WAY BETTER and FREE!

  • optimismprime

    There are 2 Things that prevented Linux from taking over a significant chunk of the Desktop Market for years now.

    1.) Lack of out-of-the-Box Support for many Pro Apps
    2.) Lack of out-of-the-Box Support for Mainstream Gaming

    With Steam for Linux in Beta right now and a Release in early 2013, all that stands in the way of total Windows irrelevancy is something like an Announcement by Adobe to have the next Creative Suit being released in a native Linux Version.

    Windows needs to just die already. Win8 was a good start, Annual Windows Updates for a pseudo-subscription payment model are another step in the right direction.