Microsoft's bolt from the Blue: How Redmond expects to keep Windows and Windows Phone fresh

We've known for a while that Microsoft will be working on its first set of updates for Windows 8, codenamed "Blue". But now, according to ZDNet, Microsoft is said to be expanding the coverage of said update to reach beyond the realm of Windows. Blue is also referring to Windows Phone, cloud services (SkyDrive,, etc.) and Windows Server. It's a wave of upgrades which are not believed to be arriving on the very same day, but very close to one another.

The set of refreshes under the Blue umbrella will arrive after a constant stream of minor fixes, firmware updates, as well as new features and functionality. Portico is serving as the first minor update since Windows Phone 8 launched late last year and is not part of "Blue". As we covered in our previous report, Microsoft is looking to release timely updates.

This is a change from how the company generally operates, releasing upgrades for products every handful of years. The goal is to hit a yearly target for releases to be pushed out to customers. This will start with Blue. As well as the more frequent quantity, Microsoft is also said to be looking at ways to fire out major updates to its Windows desktop operating system to consumers quicker - Windows Store is a possibility.

What's coming in Blue?


Unfortunately, while details are coming to light about frequency of updates, as well as Microsoft's plan on how to go about refreshing a number of products and services, we're still none the wise on just what's included in Blue. That said, ZDNet's source does note that tweaks to the user experience, new developer platform related bits and pieces, as well as new versions of Internet Explorer, Mail, Calendar, Bing and other system apps are to be expected.

Blue will also include kernel and driver-level improvements, which are planned to affect battery life and overall performance, but backward compatibility with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is priority. Lastly, instead of Windows 9, 10, 11 as successors after Blue, Microsoft will be looking at releasing upgrades in favour of new versions of Windows to help prolong the life of Windows 8.

Update: We can now add our own confirmation (via an inside source) to "Blue" as the codename for a future OS update for Windows Phone. Alas, it's not right around the corner so think more long term here.

Source: ZDNet

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Now you shall witness the firepower of a fully operational battlestar.
  • "Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!"  Sorry, but this is Star Wars we are quoting...
  • Both versions sounds good and describes the situation. :D
  • Make it so number one.
  • that's the new disney version.
  • lol
  • Fire at will, commander!
  • It's a TRAP!
  • Come on everyone, stay on target... stay on target...
  • "Engage!"
  • One can only hope....
  • Hopefully. Their pace of updates for the last 18 months has been more like a rusty hamster wheel.
  • Really? I feel like their pace of updates has definitly pickup with this generation of products. Microsoft of yesteryear was at a snails pace. 
  • Don't worry, we're getting Ron Jeremy up to ramming speed!
  • Really? Didn't WP8 get released October 2012 and the first update called "Portico" came in the latter part of December 2012?!! Wow, didn't realize the release and first update were separated by 18 months!
  • You would prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system!
  • as if millions of apples cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced
  • Isn't he great folks!  And he's here all week!
  • I have a bad feeling about this
  • ENGAGE! (in my Capt. Picard voice)
  • This is a good model. Especially as everyone is always desperate for more more more.
  • I especially liked the sentence near the end saying instead of Windows 9, 10, 11 they are looking at prolonging the life of Win8. I very much like this approach. Don't re-invent the wheel every two years, give me a better wheel, one with a better tread, or strengthen the material.
  • I'm blue in the face, waiting for my Grandpa Focus Wp7.8 update...
  • So manually update it..
  • Update it.  Don't fear it.  Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.  Do you want to suffer?  No, you say.  Well then use the seventy eighter and just do it.
  • couldn't agree more. used it last night after waiting and waiting for Tmobile to update my Lumia 710. Couldn't be happier, my phone got a new lease of life and can even wait till WP9 is out ;) Good thing is all data, photo, texts etc were preserved during the upgrade.
  • Seventy eighter is a nice program. I used it to upgrade to WP7.8
  • So many Star Wars references! Did the Fighting 501st pass out white 920s or something?
  • If you are on rogers, just do the disconnect trick. My Rogers focus got the update thruogh Zune that way...It's great to have the varied tile sizes!
  • Blue in the face? I think you mean balls
  • {{crickets}}
  • I don't know about his "getting laid" habits, but I think here he means he's been "holding his breath".
  • The title of the article really grabbed me. iOS/iPhone use to be where it was at. Problem with it now (its really only kink in its armor)? Its complacency. It has just become bland old and boring. It is truly being driven by the large amount of apps and that alone. Windows Phone looks light years ahead if you put your biasness aside and look at the actually structure and aesthetics behind them both. Nice to hear that Microsoft already knows it is behind and not going to fall trap to the one glaring issue the markets leader has fallen to.
  • I totally agree wit I have an old iPhone4 that I use as a second phone to my daily drive, Lumia 920. I only keep my iphone around because there's a lot of apps I ha e on there that aren't on windows phone yet :/ jf I could just get more of those apps like Hulu instagram Nike running and training apps and some local bank apps. I would gladly get ride of my boring iphone for good
  • true that.. I moved from iphone 3gs to lumia 920.. first it was Bank of America and then Chase app trickled in.. few of my fav games are on WP8 (not temple run though).. so its getting there..
    That said, some of the apps are darn awesome like Nokia Drive, City Lense and off late "Blink" from Microsoft Research.. 16 pictures in a second.. thats is something..
    Microsoft did kill it and really need their 2.9% to go up.. really do
  • +1 on the OS comparisons.
  • Well, I can't really agree. I have an iPhone 4, and I currently use a Lumia 800 (force-updated to 7.8), but I think iOS just feels more mature. I love the UI of the Windows Phone, and I like its "content-first" concept, but after switching from iPhone to L800, I just felt something is lacking. I miss the unified search, which search among messages, I miss the independent headphone volume, and last but not least I don't like the whole "vibrate THEN ring" thing. And of course, there are a handful of apps I miss, but this factor is beyond MS - these things are not.
  • That's great. Now fix the F***ing battery issue on Lumia 920.
  • lol
  • Haven't seen any battery issues here in a long time, neither on my friends' phones, so I suggest you try to get rid of some apps (especially the ones allowed to run on the background). I don't know, but it may also be some crap installed by your operator... so uninstall them. 
  • The battery life is pretty good on Lumia 920. I turn screen to low brightness all the time and no NFC. With the latest baconit update, I can use my phone actively for about a day now.
  • I find battery issues only when I keep WiFi on. I assumed it was related to the wap at work, since it requires authentication but haven't played around with testing. Aside from disabling WiFi and no more battery death after 2hours. And I'm not talking about "keep connection alive."
  • Hmmm... That's interesting. I have great battery life on my Lumia. It usually lasts through a day easy with life to spare. Try keeping WiFi on. That makes it even better.
  • My battery is great.
  • Mine lasts a day and a half after music for 1 hour in gym, music for about another 2 hours at work, emails, browsing, 5 or so calls a day lasting an average of 15 minutes each and loads of texts. The occasional game. So there is definitely something wrong with your lumia 920.
  • How do you work out in gym with the tank in your pocket? I stopped paying for gym since I do my weights with Lumia 920 everyday now.
  • All. Good stuff.
  • i get 2 days outta my 920 with normal use. 
  • Rich, does this cover Apollo Plus? And if so do you know if it affects the release of the update? I think it was rumoured for Q1 2013.
  • Blue is separate from Portico and presumably Apollo+.
  • Why doesn't blue end with "O" are we done with that now?
  • Read my comment below... ;)
  • Nice this is just good news, now see what a handful of competitors such as apple and android can make the windows ecosystem bring its greatness in flying colours!
  • I think this is the first major attempt to really align the two systems, so yeah, more of a starting over.
  • AZULO!! :D
  • "blue-o"
  • Was his name-o
  • Blo
  • Maybe "Indigo"
  • I'm blue ((Dah bah dee dah bah die Dah bah dee dah bah di......................... anybody? Don't lie, you liked it at the time. 
  • Haha...memories I keep trying to forget...thanks.
  • Terrible, terrible memories. I was 9 or 10 when the song came out... so I'm just going to go ahead and blame my young age on why I liked that terrible song.
  • to me it always sounded like he was saying "im blue, i would beat off a guy, i would beeat off a guy..." and so on   :/
  • I think that says more about you than the song. ;)
  • Lol
  • At the time?! Bump dat-- I still love that song!
  • I was supposed to see Eiffel 65 live today in Finland :D But they cancelled... As if they had something else to do. And it was part of an event, not just the band..
  • I was in high school when I heard that song. Sad part is I still have the CD somewhere and I used to love his Playstation song back when Sony didn't suck. We always thought he was was singing"If I was green I would die, if I was greeeen I would die..." :-]
  • in the article it says and i quote "The set of refreshes under the Blue
    umbrella will arrive after a constant
    stream of minor fixes, firmware
    updates, as well as new features and
    functionality." so this means first a stream of minor fixes will come and then blue ? if thats the case, when will the minor fixes start to come ? any idea ?
  • Portico...
  • its written in the article portico isn't part of this
  • Exactly. Portico isnt part of Blue, Portico will cointain the minor fixes before Blue, like it says in the article.
  • but where's the 'constant stream of fixes' with portico
  • I hope MS puts a desktop Start button like the Stardock company is doing. It will make desktop people happy and will not take anything away from the Windows 8 OS. For that minor thing some people have not upgraded. If MS puts the small desktop Start button, sales will rise and eveybody will be happy, having the best of both worlds. It is a no brainer and a Win-Win situation for MS. They just need to make the smart decision
  • Then what happens when you hit start key on keyboard? Start button is gone, please move on. New start screen shouldn't be that big a deal, everything is searchable anyways.
  • Seriously? Bringing back the start button when it was removed explicitly because the Modern UI needs to be a whole different experience? No one ever used it anymore except the people who don't know how to use Windows Search, like yourself. Forget it. The Start button is obsolete. Hence, the whole classic desktop as we know it will disappear in Windows 9, trust me. Get used to it and embrace change. Don't stay completely stuck in the past.
  • Man. Is. Obsolete... Erased. Extinct. Obsolete (Fear Factory)
  • Wait wait wait..... This whole time I thought people were complaining because there's no start button on the metro start screen. Turns out they're just wanting the button back for the desktop part only? That's sensible, why not let em have it? Make a metro-ish start button or something so it fits with the metro-ish desktop. I mean, they kept the desktop around, but they got rid of the button. Why? What did that accomplish?
  • Hmmm, bottom left corner of screen and, it is the start button!!
  • It really should be there on the desktop. I love Start8.
  • for all your information
    the start key on your keyboard or the window logo button on your keyboard WILL bring you to Metro screen on click or bring you to desktop screen on click
  • Oh get over it already.
  • Blue.. as in the blue wallpaper and then ... the Blue screen of death.... 
    We need a new code name Agent P 
  • The last time I had a bsod was with Windows 98.
  • Same.
  • I got a ton of BSODs trying to get Windows 8 running in EFI mode on my Mac.
  • Mine was a hardware issue on a work PC's Windows XP.
  • Are you kidding? MS try to keep windows phone fresh? If they treat their customers the way they did with WP7 users, the platform is dead within 2 years. I am giving one last chance to MS with the next wave of WP8 phones. I love the ecosystem, but i dont want to wait 6 months for an update just for my homescreen. I have a Titan II and officially it is't even delivered yet!
  • We are also getting apollo+ bro chill out.
  • When? in another 6 months? I think my next phone will be the Ubuntu Phone. Google it and watch the video presentation.
  • sorry we don't google it, We Bing it LOL
  • Prolong the life of Vista 2.0? Looks like Win 7 will be my last MS OS
  • You don't have to like it, just appreciate it.
  • :-/ why is it vista 2.0 cuz you said so?
  • You remind me of all the stories my wife has told me about her ex-husband....
  • That's quite funny actually.
  • Man, that comment was SO Windows XP! :|
  • +1
  • Funny thing is that I work in retail, and when I actually show customers how W8 works, they usually think it's pretty cool.
  • Yes battery issue I would like to see addressed ahead of any other wave of updates
  • As a fan of the University of Michigan and Microsoft, I give a resounding "Go Blue!"
  • The Blue updates will come to Verizon subscribers in mid-3047,
  • Lol
  • Lol.
  • Wow, your being bullish on Verizon!
  • If I'm not mistaken Verizon hasn't pushed out portico for the 8x right.
  • I like it! These are exciting times for microsoft, windows phone is growing steady. I think on the long run windowsphone will be an serious competator for iOS and android
  • Hope the update live calander soon.the other updates came last summer.......
  • I'm sick of hearing update, I want to see them. Get them out and let ATT sit on them. Its easy to hate ATT.
  • Windows 8 SP1 & Windows 8 RT SP1 are under the code name "Windows Blue" the first major service pack Microsoft used a code name for?
  • Gotta love it
  • Any chance they keep the names Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? and build a brand?
    Hope they stop this bs about 9,10,11... Just confusing when trying to get newbies change to WP... "oh, is that windows mobile phone rt pro 6, 7, 7 and a half, 8, 8 and a half...
  • They could just drop numbers altogether and simply call them Windows..? ;)
  • That would work also ;)
  • I knew that MS was good for the long run. I hope they give us a better sync option for Xbox music in the future and correct the codec issue with music files.
  • Does anyone else think it should be called Windows Marketplace rather than store?
  • No.
  • Indigo could be a great codename for the Blue Windows Phone update! Its a variant shade of blue and ends in the letter 'o' as most Windows Phone updates... =P
  • This is a bit obvious actually. MS spent the past couple of years changing everything over and unifying not only the experience but the underlying infrastructure of their OS's and applications and tying into the cloud. They can't just upgrade everything at different times putting things out of sync or breaking something, and can't upgrade everything at the same time every few years with large updates. Logically you update everything more often with smaller updates.
  • Awesome
  • Please include Flash in IE for both Win8 Metro and WP8!!!!
  • So I wonder are they still gonna do service packs like before. And one fix they need is to get 8, like wins phone 8 and automatically put capital letters and quotation's were they need to go like the phones do.
    once in a while it will it will put it at the beginning of a sentence but not always.
  • i'm blue dabadee dabadae dabadeee dabadae dabadeedabadae
  • Hate how "O" moments will be gone with blue :(
    Our threads on guess the next "O" are now only dreams!
  • Please get some apps!
  • so wp8.5 will be the Blue
  • I think you're right! And we won't see it till Halloween!
  • Great job of "reporting" that Microsoft is going to continue doing what it has been doing for more than a decade - releasing incemental fixes plus larger periodic updates.  What a shocking piece of news.  BTW, last I heard Windows 9 is still a scheduled product targeted for 2015, or just where it should be in Microsoft's traditional development cycle.  Giving code names is just the in vogue Apple and Google thing to do, The process, however, remains essentially unchanged and that is a good thing.  Oh, of course there will be a greater degree of "sync" between the Miceosoft platforms since they all share the same kernel.  I think that was sort of the point from the start.
  • I like the concept of of project "Blue" along with interim updates.  However, as a Win Phone 8 user, I fear that carriers/maunfacturers will continue to delay (Or not implement at all) future improvements to the OS.  Until Microsoft can implement updates like Apple, (Everybody get all updates at once) the WP8 experience is/will be a somewhat frustrating experience.
  • Can someone please answer me this. I am planning to buy Nokia 620. Will that phone be updateable to Blue and other future updates? Or will it be neglected as happened with WP7?
  • The whole Blue stuff is merely a service pack for the OSes and a refresh for the services. There's nothing to fear neither to overexcite about.
  • Someone please answer this too. My battery on 920 sucks. 12 hours average. And every morning I Have to do a soft reset to keep it from draining 15% in 2 hours idle.. Is it just me or are people having same issues? And the battery percentage will rise after the soft reset. Its driving me nuts, should I just get a new 920?