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Windows Blue confirmed as Microsoft hints at yearly updates

Microsoft has come clean about Windows Blue, which it says is a codename for "a set of plans" across its devices and services.

Windows Blue, the heavily rumoured update to Windows 8, has been confirmed by Microsoft -- but the software behemoth says the "chances of products being named thusly are slim to none."

In a post on the corporate blog, Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications (none more corporate!), wrote, "product leaders across Microsoft are working together on plans to advance our devices and services, a set of plans referred to internally as 'Blue'."

What Microsoft hasn't yet announced -- and what Shaw heavily hints at here -- is that Windows will become a regularly updated service, instead of a major purchase once every three or four years. This would make it more like Mac OS X, which typically costs around £15 to upgrade to the newest version (going from Lion to Mountain Lion currently costs £14).

"Our customers have already experienced the ongoing rhythm of updates and innovations over the past six months, including new devices, new apps and services, better performance and new capabilities," Shaw explains. "This continuous development cycle is the new normal across Microsoft -- we'll tune everyday experiences as well as introduce bold, connected and exciting new scenarios."

Windows upgrades have typically been a big deal. Bouncing up a notch from Windows 7 will set you back £100, or £190 for the Pro version, after an introductory offer of £25 ended in February.

With take-up of Windows 8 so far below expectations, Microsoft may feel the time of the big-box upgrade has gone the way of the box itself. Smart phones have accustomed us to free, instant OS upgrades -- and we're mad as hell when we don't get them -- so paying £100 for new PC software is just archaic.

Windows Blue is expected to bring more subtle and detailed touchscreen control, as hinted at in a recent leaked demo video. It's due out in August, according to sources speaking to our sister site ZDNet.

Do you think Windows would be better for getting regular updates to its look and features? Or did you prefer it when everything stayed in the same place? Would you be more likely to upgrade to Windows 8 if it was getting yearly updates? Have you say down in the comments, or over on our regularly updated Facebook page.