Windows Blue has been on the tech industry’s radar ever since the launch of Windows 8. That’s right: just days after Microsoft launched its latest operating system, news had already leaked about a new project called Windows Blue.
Back in those days, Windows Blue was just a blur on the horizon that we knew nothing about. Yesterday, things changed. Windows Blue details were leaked, including specific features and interface information.
So is Windows Blue right for you? Here are the coolest features we know about the operating system so far.
What is it?
First, we’ll explain what Windows Blue is. Windows Blue is a secretive operating system currently in development by Microsoft. At first glance, users would be forgiven for thinking Windows Blue was Windows 8. The two operating systems look incredibly similar.
So what’s the point of Windows Blue? Well, unlike any operating system ever built by Microsoft, Windows Blue should use a subscriber system. Windows Blue users pay an annual rate and receive updates to Windows Blue throughout the year – much like Mac OS. Another rumor states that Windows Blue users will only pay once and receive free lifetime updates for Windows Blue.
The pricing scheme hasn’t been confirmed as of yet, but expect more news and reviews to appear on the internet over the coming months leading up to the Windows Blue release date.
In March 2013, an early Alpha build of Windows Blue was leaked onto torrent sites. The leak was titled Windows Build 9364 and, unlike other Windows torrent leaks, this one appears to be authentic.
It’s been a frantic few hours as the tech community downloads Windows Blue and tries it out for the first time. Although the operating system is in its early Alpha stage, it still has some features that should make it into the final build.
A 50/50 snapping option
It’s sad that this wasn’t a Windows 8 feature from day one. For whatever reason, Windows 8 doesn’t let users snap apps to take up equal sides of the screen. Instead, one app takes up 75% of the screen while the other takes up 25%. Why, Microsoft?
Fortunately, Microsoft has amended its error with Windows Blue and allows 50/50 app snapping. For those weirdos who actually like the 75/25 split, that option is also available.
Unified system settings menu
One of the most painful parts about Windows 8 is the way it splits important PC settings into two different parts of the computer – the Charms menu and the Control Panel. Once again, this is a bizarre move by Microsoft.
But fortunately, Windows Blue solves this problem and unifies all of the important system settings into one easy-to-access menu. Jeez, how hard was that, Microsoft?
Internet Explorer 11
Internet Explorer 10 was only just released for Windows 8, but there’s already an Internet Explorer 11 button on the Windows Blue desktop. The new version of IE is very early and the functionality is nearly identical to Internet Explorer 10.
In fact, the only changes involve showing synced tabs (which could mean Windows Blue will allow tab syncing across multiple devices). Since IE10 recently added synced bookmarks and synced history, synced tabs would appear to be the next logical step.
New useful apps
On the Windows Blue desktop, users will see a few new useful apps, including an Alarms app, A Calculator app (creatively named ‘Calculate’) and a Sound Recorder app. There’s also a mysterious new app called Movie Moments which cannot be accessed at this time. So far, we can only judge these apps based on their tiles.
This was another bizarre move by Microsoft with Windows 8. For years, one of the biggest advantages Microsoft held over Apple was its customization options. On Apple devices, users generally can’t change more than the wallpaper. On Microsoft operating systems up to Windows 7, customization options were virtually unlimited.
With Windows 8, that changed. Users were locked into a chosen few background color schemes and could not customize the tiles interface as much as they would have liked. To make matters worse, the Personalization menu was hidden under layers of subheadings.
With Windows Blue, customization looks to be easier than ever. The Personalization menu now appears directly from the Settings charm, above the Tiles and Help options buttons.
Conclusion – Will Windows Blue be worth it?
If you look at all of the above features, you’ll notice a common theme: most of the features are designed to fix some boneheaded problem with Windows 8 – like the app screen splitting or the settings menu.
So if you avoided Windows 8 because of all these bizarre issues, then Windows Blue may be the operating system you want to buy. It will be interesting to see what kind of pricing scheme Microsoft releases with its newest OS – we don’t know whether it will be subscription based or a one-price payment type of deal at this point.
Of course, maybe the build that was leaked online wasn’t Windows Blue at all. Instead, maybe it was Windows 8 Service Pack 1. But we doubt it – it looks like the internet has had its first genuine sighting of Windows Blue in the wild.