Well, it looks like Microsoft might actually release the next version of Windows just a year after Windows 8. Quoting "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans," The Verge reports that the first public build of Windows Blue will be released in late June, at the company's Build developer conference.
Word is that Microsoft has already completed one milestone build of Windows Blue. Reportedly, the second milestone build is the one that will be made public, and Microsoft has no plans for subsequent public previews; it will move right on to shipping the operating system.
We already got a glimpse of Windows Blue from a build that leaked earlier this week. A number of new features and tweaks are in store, including changes to Snap View, which now works on lower-resolution displays and allows two apps to share the screen evenly. (The Windows 8 version of Snap View allows only an uneven split, with one app taking up more space than the other.) The Verge says the Snap View changes are to prepare Windows for smaller, 7- and 8-inch tablets—a fast-growing market from which Microsoft is currently absent.
In related news, DigiTimes reports that Microsoft "will no longer launch products under its Windows RT line." Instead, the software giant is expected to "merge the product line into the . . . next-generation Windows, codenamed Blue." It's not clear whether this integration will be a branding move or something more drastic. It's conceivable that Microsoft could include fat binaries with both x86 and ARM support in a single release of the OS. Considering Windows 8 already has a large storage footprint, though, I'm not sure how practical that kind of integration would be. Too bad DigiTimes doesn't go into more detail.