Windows 8 Update Possible in March
Rumors also suggest Windows 8's successor may come next year.
Microsoft's more rapid release cycle could result in the next Windows update as early as March.
Microsoft isn't talking publicly yet about its next update to Windows 8.1, but a report published today suggests "Update 1" to the operating system could arrive on March 11.
That notion comes from veteran journalist and long-time Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, citing an unnamed but "accurate and trusted" source. She provided a few details in this article. The date is unconfirmed by Microsoft, though, so it's still at the rumor stage.
If Update 1 to Windows 8.1 does arrive at that time, it might be at the level of a minor OS update or a service pack. Microsoft late last year initiated a faster update release cadence across its product divisions. One of the consequences of that changed release cycle appears to be that service packs will not be as extensive as they have been in the past. Foley's source said that the Update 1 would mostly serve to make Windows 8.1 "more useful to business users."
Foley described some of the features to expect in Update 1. Her source told her that Windows 8.1's memory and resource capabilities would be improved with Update 1. Those improvements will allow the operating system to be bundled with less expensive and smaller tablet devices.
Leaked screenshots have suggested that Update 1 will allow Windows Store Apps (also known as "Metro" applications) to be pinned to Windows 8.1's "Desktop" side of the OS. In addition, Microsoft may add controls on Metro-style apps that will let users close them. Presently, those apps get closed by swiping your finger downward on the screen. Microsoft sort of made the case that resources don't get used when switching from app to app because inactive app resources get suspended by the OS. However, lots of people just like to close inactive apps.
Update 1's release on March 11 will correspond with Microsoft's March security update release, according to Foley's account. Microsoft releases its security updates on the second Tuesday of each month.
Foley also reiterated a rumor that the release-to-manufacturing version of Windows Phone 8.1 will arrive before Microsoft' Build developer event, which starts on April 2.
In addition, there's a rumored Windows 9 OS in the works, corresponding with a so-called "Threshold" Microsoft product wave release, which may appear in April 2015. A rumored "mini-Start menu" could be rolled out at that time, according to Foley's article. Many users complained that Windows 8 lacked a start menu, as seen in Windows 7. Windows 8.1 added a small concession in that regard. It allows users to configure the system to boot to the applications screen for a similar experience, if wanted.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.