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Windows Blue preview to hit in late June, Microsoft exec says

Corporate vice president for Windows says there won't be any major changes to Windows 8 with the forthcoming update.

Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows, speaks Tuesday at the Wired Business Conference in New York.
Dan Farber/CNET
NEW YORK--Users will get a preview of Windows Blue in late June, a Microsoft executive said Tuesday.

Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows, said a public preview of the update to the Windows 8 operating system will be available in time for Microsoft's developers' conference next month.

She declined to provide many details about Windows Blue,the codename for the update, but she said it will enable device makers to create products with smaller screen sizes. She added that despite some reports, Windows Blue won't have any major changes from Windows 8.

"We're working hard on enabling new kinds of hardware and new kinds of software and doing some innovations in the product," Larson-Green said at the Wired Business Conference in New York.

Microsoft in October launched Windows 8 with a radically redesigned user interface. Since that time, many users have grumbled about certain features, including the lack of a start button. The operating system was expected to boost PC sales, but International Data Corp. last month said Windows 8 actually is hurting the market.

PC sales have been weak for quite some time, but the first quarter marked one of the worst periods of all time. Shipments fell in the double digits on a percentage basis, which marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines, according to tech research firms Gartner and IDC. The sector is not only being hurt by the weak economy, but also by consumers opting for mobile devices instead of traditional PCs.

Late Monday, Microsoft said it hadsold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses in six months. The figure is comparable to the number of licenses sold for Windows 7.

Larson-Green also said during the Wired Conference that Microsoft is having "meaningful discussions" about bringing the start button back to Windows.

Meanwhile, Larson-Green acknowledged that Windows RT, the version of the operating system that runs on chips using ARM Holdings technology, hasn't been well received by the market largely because consumers don't understand it.

"We have some work to do in explaining it to people because it's different," she said.

Larson-Green added that she uses Surface RT as her main computing device and that Windows RT provides a "simpler experience" than Windows 8, which runs on X86 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

Update, 1:25 p.m. PT: Adds comments about Windows RT.