Microsoft begins to talk more openly about “Blue”

WindowsMary Jo Foley first started talking about Windows “Blue” as a refresh to Windows 8 and beyond, (incorporating refreshes to Windows Phone and Windows Server, too) way back last August, but it’s taken until today for Microsoft to begin talking about the refresh (or service pack, or feature pack, or update, or….).  In a blog post on The Windows Blog, and also in interviews with journalists including the previously blacklisted-by-Sinofsky Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft dropped a few more numbers and promised more to come with Windows Blue news.

In the Windows Blog post, Sr. Marketing Communications Manager (is that the right title, Brandon?)Brandon LeBlanc interviews Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller on Windows 8 at 6 months, who reveals that Microsoft has recently surpassed the sales of 100 million Windows 8 licenses (which by the way makes those SkyDrive numbers from this morning even more suspect), up from 60 million in January.

Reller also revealed some new Windows Store numbers:

Apps momentum has been steady as the number of apps in the Windows Store has increased 6x since launch. Comparatively, that’s already passed what iOS had in store, in its first year of app development. We’ve also surpassed 250 million Store apps downloaded in the first six months, and almost 90% of our app catalog has been downloaded every month.

Although Reller did not reveal the total apps in the blog post (maybe lobbing softball questions from Brandon LeBlanc isn’t the best way to disseminate information?), Microsoft confirmed to a number of journalists that there are “more than 60K Windows Store apps” in the store today.

As for Blue, Reller revealed that it will be available “later this year”, telling Mary Jo Foley that it will be ready in time for “holiday 2013”, and that “the Windows team will share pricing, packaging and go-to-market details about Blue in the next couple of weeks. Yes — that’s ahead of the upcoming Computex Taipei, Microsoft TechEd and Microsoft Build 2013 shows, all happening in June”, according to Foley.  Mary Jo has more details, be sure to check them out.

Reller described Blue as an “update”, one that will bring Windows 8 to more form factors, more consumers, and will “respond to customer feedback”:

Windows Blue is a codename for an update that will be available later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PCs. It will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem. It will provide more options for businesses, and give consumers more options for work and play. The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT.

As Mary Jo Foley notes, we’ll probably be hearing more from Julie Larson-Green about Blue and more when she speaks at the Wired Business Conference tomorrow (May 7th) at 1:45pm ET, and we’ll be hearing lots more in the days leading up to Build 2013 at the end of June.