Leaked 'Windows Blue' build has tweaked UI, new apps

Microsoft is hard at work on the next version of Windows, which is code-named Windows Blue and which may be released as early as this summer. We can now get a glimpse into Microsoft's work, thanks to the leak of a recent build of the operating system. The folks at Neowin have gathered more than a few screenshots from Windows Blue build 9364, showing the tweaks and new features already implemented.

The Modern UI environment has apparently gotten some notable refinements. Neowin's screenshots shows how users can now shrink tiles to an even smaller size (à la Windows Phone 8), multitask with applications each taking up exactly half the screen (which is inexplicably impossible in Windows 8), choose from a greater palette of background and "accent" colors, and take screenshots right from the Charms bar.

Tighter SkyDrive integration seems to be in the works, as well. So are new Calculator, Sound Recorder, and Alarm apps, along with a proper Modern UI file manager—although screenshots of the latter aren't available. The extra apps should help make Modern UI feel a little less barebones on Windows 8 tablets and convertibles.

According to ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley, Windows Blue may have reached the halfway point in its development last month. Foley says Windows Blue is "believed to be the first of a number of annual operating system updates to Windows 8."

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