The update to the struggling Windows 8 operating system, known by the code name "Blue," will be called Windows 8.1, a naming convention that Microsoft has used for its software updates for years. Tami Reller, the chief marketing officer and chief financial officer of Microsoft's Windows division, disclosed the name during a speech at J.P. Morgan's Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Boston this morning.
During its Q3 2013 earnings call yesterday, Microsoft’s outgoing CFO Peter Klein noted that the company plans to bring Windows 8 to smaller devices. Until now, Windows 8 was mostly geared toward desktops and larger tablets, including Microsoft’s own Surface and RT machines. With the forthcoming Windows 8 Blue, rumor had it that Microsoft would enable its OEMs to run Windows 8 on smaller devices, too.
A Windows 8.1 option to boot to desktop? That seductive rumor has been making the rounds over the weekend. What could be a reflection of wishful thinking, a post at WinBeta (via Neowin), cites a Russian-language Web site as the source. Apparently, there is Windows 8.1 code that disables the Metro Start Screen and sends you "to the desktop automatically."
Microsoft has opened its Active Directory (AD) to general availability on Windows Azure, giving developers access to the single-sign-on service for access to the suite of Microsoft services, third-party apps and SaaS providers. Active Directory is the long-time single point of access to Microsoft Windows technologies. The Windows Azure AD compatibility means customers can provide similar controls online that had traditionally been integrated into servers managed by customers and their IT departments.
Microsoft began rolling out substantial updates to some core Windows 8 and Windows RT applications tonight. And while users of the Mail, People, and Calendar apps will see a laundry list of new features, they will also reportedly lose some functionality. Users of Mail, Calendar, and Contact apps have lost sync support via Google's Exchange ActiveSync, according to a report in The Verge.
More tidbits are leaking out about the kinds of changes to expect from
Windows Blue, the next big release of Microsoft's signature operating
system. In an alleged newly leaked build, the Windows 8 Start screen appears with both bigger and smaller Live Tile setups, an additional snap view, and new personalization options. It also shows a hint of IE 11.
As Microsoft marches toward its early April 2013 end-of-free-support deadline for Windows 7, the company is planning to update automatically some of those who still have yet to install the first (and seemingly only) Service Pack for the operating system. As announced yesterday on the Microsoft "Blogging Windows" blog, Microsoft plans to begin rolling out Windows 7 SP1 automatically, via Windows Update to Windows 7 users who still are running the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version without SP1 installed. This process will begin today.
In a surprise reversal, Microsoft has changed the default behavior of Flash content on websites viewed using Internet Explorer in Windows 8 or Windows RT. Previously, sites had to be on a whitelist before Flash would work. The new behavior effectively turns the Compatibility View list into an exclusive blacklist of badly behaved sites.
Six months after its initial launch, the preview of Outlook.com, Microsoft’s free webmail service that is meant to replace the aging Hotmail brand and design, now has over 60 million active users according to the company’s own data. Microsoft is officially taking Outlook.com out of preview and will start prompting its 360 million Hotmail users to switch to the new service (while keeping their old email addresses). Microsoft expects to switch all Hotmail users to the new interface and platform by the summer.