Update 05/14: Tami Reller in Boston at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference has said that "Windows Blue is officially named as Windows 8.1, and it will be a free update and come from the Windows Store." In addition the 8.1 update will also be coming to Windows RT as well.
Reller stated the update will arrive by the end of the calendar year.
She also noted, that there are now more than 70,000 apps in the Windows Store (the online app store for Windows).
In addition to final releases, Reller also confirmed that the public preview build of 8.1 will be available for both Windows 8 and Windows RT, starting on June 26, timed with the Build developer conference in San Francisco.
Update 05/11: Larson-Green clarifying her statement made at the WIRED Business Conference said, "I announced we'd share the first public preview of what we are calling internally "Windows Blue" in late June timed with the Build conference."
And, that Windows Blue will be an update to Windows 8 which will build on Microsoft's vision of modern computing. "An OS that lets apps work seamlessly together and put the things you care most about right at your fingertips. We are excited to share the next steps in this vision soon," she added.
She also confirms that the public preview of Windows Blue will arrive alongside the BUILD 2013 conference in June.
Microsoft is set to bring back the Start button in the upcoming Windows 8.1 update for Windows 8, according to a Financial Times report, "by adding the Start button back, Microsoft is admitting its failures."
Microsoft started firing back at Windows 8 critics urging everyone to avoid sensational news reports and to "stay centered." In fact, Microsoft touts Windows 8 as "a good product" that is "getting better every day."
"Unlike a can of soda, a computer operating system offers different experiences to different customers to meet different needs, while still moving the entire industry toward an exciting future of touch, mobility, and seamless, cross-device experiences," Microsoft said.
Microsoft sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses in the product's first six months, announced Tami Reller at the Wired Business Conference.
She said the Windows team has delivered 739 updates for Windows 8 and Windows RT in since the operating systems were made generally available.
Adding, "there are more than 60,000 Windows Store/Metro Style apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT available now. And there have been more than 500 updates to the first-party (Microsoft-developed) Windows 8 and Windows RT apps in the Store since Windows 8 and Windows RT launched in late October 2012," Reller said.
"We've also seen the number of certified devices for Windows 8 and Window RT triple to 2,400 and we're seeing more and more touch devices come to retail," Larsen-Green added.
Microsoft also will be changing its incentive programs for retail stores so that salespeople will be compensated for touch, 100 percent, when it comes to consumer sales. Microsoft also will continue to build out more of its own Microsoft brick-and-mortar stores, but will be focusing more on smaller, storefront style spaces, she said.
Larson-Green also confirmed that the company will release a public preview of Windows 8.1 for anyone who has Windows 8 during BUILD 2013 in June. The preview of Windows 8.1 to the public, which will be delivered via the Windows Store.
When asked about the Start Button to Windows Blue, she neither confirmend nor ruled out this possibility stating:
"The Start Button might be helpful," Larson-Green acknowledged during her remarks at the conference, and provide users with more of a "comfort level." She did note that the team has had "meaningful discussions" about bringing back the Start Button, but users shouldn't interpret that as meaning the old Start Menu would be coming back.
She noted that the Start Button today is basically hidden. "Some would like it showing up on the screen all the time," she said.
She also emphasized that Microsoft plans to be "principled but not stubborn" with coming modifications to the Blue update.
Microsoft's Skype team has released a new resource for businesses dubbed Skype Manager, a Web-based tool for creating accounts and allocating credit and features so everyone gets the most out of Skype.
Skype Manager just beefed up its offerings for global customers with broader coverage and by allowing administrators to allocate Skype subscriptions from over 170 countries.
The video below steps you through how to use Skype Manager.
Also, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative announced a TV white spaces pilot project in collaboration with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and UhuruOne to provide affordable wireless broadband access to university students and faculty in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The collaboration will also enable UhuruOne, a local Internet service provider, to offer Windows 8 device and service packages to universities in Dar es Salaam.
SkyDrive has surpassed the 250 million users mark, the team announced a major milestone yesterday: "over 250 million people are now using SkyDrive - 50 million since October 2012 when Windows 8 launched."
Microsoft has also shipped Visual Studio 2012.3 (Update 3) "go-live"; CTP. In addition, Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2012.2 Power tools update is now available.
Yesterday we released our update to the TFS 2012 Power Tools to work with VS/TFS 2012.2 (Update 2).
You can download the refreshed Visual Studio 2012.3 RC of the CTP here, and TFS 2012.2 Power Tools using the links belwo: