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Microsoft comes clean on Windows Blue plans ahead of Build 2013

Microsoft has thus far stayed mum on Windows Blue, the rumoured update to Windows 8 that leaked online recently (see screenshot, above). But that's now changed, with a blog post that discussed how the Redmond-based firm's plans to "advance" its products in the coming months.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft's vice president of corporate communications, acknowledged that Microsoft employees are "working together on plans to advance our devices and services, a set of plans referred to internally as 'Blue,'" though he stressed that the chances of the final product having that moniker are "slim to none."

Shaw said Microsoft is embracing a "continuous development cycle," pointing to this week's Windows 8 apps update, new gadgets, and performance improvements. This, he said, "is the new normal across Microsoft."

"Our product groups are also taking a unified planning approach so people get what they want – all of their devices, apps and services working together wherever they are and for whatever they are doing," Shaw said.

That is part of Microsoft's fundamental shift from a software company to a devices and services firm, as outlined by Steve Ballmer in October 2012.

The Windows Blue leak offered some hints about what we can expect from the next incremental update to Windows. That includes expanding the allowable size of tiles that one can place on Windows 8's Start Screen, and additional customisation options, among other things. Microsoft is also reportedly readying a Windows RT version of Windows Blue.

Shaw promised more updates on what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio, and more at its Build 2013 conference, set for 26-28 June in San Francisco.

"Build is the path to creating and implementing your great ideas, and then differentiating them in the market," Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's corporate vice president and chief evangelist, wrote in a separate blog post.

Registration for Build opens on 2 April via