Microsoft will have Windows 8.1 out the door shortly, but what will follow the update? Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet has heard from sources that the Windows team will release a small Spring 2014 update alongside the release of Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue". That pushes back the Windows Phone 8.1 expectations back by a few months, as it was previously hinted to be early 2014 instead of the Spring.
Not only that, but sources suggest we could well be looking at the Windows Phone OS being used for hardware with larger displays, superseding Windows RT.
The idea is to deliver a "major" release of Windows in the Spring of 2015, forgoing an earlier rumored Fall 2014 update. The source reveals that this release will be a hybrid to further unify the Windows and Windows Phone operating systems. Foley writes:
"Right now, Microsoft has two ARM-based Windows operating systems: The Windows Phone OS and the Windows RT OS. The thinking is these will be one by Spring 2015. Because it tends to be easier to take a "smaller" OS and add to it than to take a larger one and remove features from it, it's likely that the Windows Phone OS is the one on top of which the new operating systems group will build."
- Spring 2014 - Windows 8 update (small)
- Spring 2014 - Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue"
- Spring 2015 - Windows 8.x update (major); unified Windows RT/Windows Phone core
Of course, it's safe to assume that between those releases we will continue to have smaller, general-distribution releases (GDRs) to patch up and improve things as well.
Recently, rumours have come to light about the Windows Phone OS being modified to support 7 to 10-inch hardware. This follows talk about Microsoft looking to relax the OEM requirement of the capacitive buttons on hardware running Windows Phone. Both make it plausible that we could well see tablets running Windows Phone in the future instead of Windows RT.
Remember, folks; this is all rumour. While we strongly urge you (as always) to take this with a grain of salt, Mary Jo Foley is generally spot on when it comes to Microsoft and Windows rumours.