Project Blue Takes a Bite Out of Apple's Style

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) has taken another page out of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  )  playbook. Code-named Project Blue, Microsoft is planning to release a lower-priced build of Windows each year, much like the OS X tradition. Although this stinks of iEnvy, the move could actually bode well for Microsoft investors.

Project Blue will be the first major update to Windows 8, which is expected to be available by mid-2013. This release schedule is certainly a divergence from Microsoft's typical timeline, but the intent behind the shift is to further unify the developer kits between the Windows platforms -- phone, RT, and desktop. Going forward, developers will have to only develop one Metro application and it will work across the different platforms. Longer-term, this should make developers happy, but it might upset the ones that have already invested into one segment of the ecosystem.

One (less) Window
The more Microsoft can unify the Windows experience for consumers and developers alike, the better its chances of regaining lost opportunities during the onset of mobile computing. It stands to reason that a component of Project Blue is for Windows Phone 8 to be replaced by Windows RT. The evidence supporting this claim lies within the Surface RT, which is powered by NVIDIA's (NASDAQ: NVDA  ) Tegra 3 mobile processor. Since smartphone processors can clearly handle the load of Windows RT, cutting Windows Phone 8 would ease buyer confusion between the three different versions of Windows 8. You'd be left with Windows 8/RT as the Microsoft version of Apple's OSX/iOS. If Apple's model provides any clues, consumers can easily understand the differences between two clearly defined platforms. Eliminating Windows Phone 8 would more clearly define Windows RT as Microsoft's mobile OS.

By changing the Windows release schedule to a yearly basis, Microsoft will be able to better compete against the latest offerings from Apple's OSX. The lower pricing structure could also be an indication that Microsoft wants to put more focus on producing high-margin hardware -- just like Apple. According to IHS, the Surface RT's bill of materials rang in at $287, including the keyboard case, and sells for $599. Project Blue could perhaps be a smaller part of a bigger plan to transform Microsoft into a company more similar to Apple than in the past. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and succeeding here could make all the difference for investors of Microsoft's lost decade.

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  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2013, at 9:47 PM, techy46 wrote:

    "Eliminating Windows Phone 8 would more clearly define Windows RT as Microsoft's mobile OS."

    That statement shows how little you really know about Microsoft's products. Windows RT is for ARM processors. Windiows 8 is for X86 processors. They'll be plenty of mobile devices running on Intel's Atom chips like the Z2760 as 2013 progresses and Atom 3D 22nm comes out.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2013, at 5:43 AM, H3D wrote:

    @Techy46

    "They'll be plenty of mobile devices running on Intel's Atom chips like the Z2760 as 2013 progresses and Atom 3D 22nm comes out."

    Stacked on shelves in warehouses they will remain irrelevant.

    Windows RT is, in any way that matters, Microsoft's Mobile OS.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2013, at 7:33 AM, lucasmonger wrote:

    @Techy46 and H3D

    I don't even think Microsoft knows what they're doing with their products. The average Joe on the streets thought that the Surface Tablet would run all of their Windows apps when in fact you needed to buy the more expensive Surface Pro in order to do so, plus the dual headed nature of Windows 8 (desktop vs. the new UI) really frustrates the world out of users. So many people I know hate how strange it feels to use Windows 8... but eventually they will get used to it and tolerate it.

    With Windows RT, the first time you touch a tablet or ultra book, you get stuck sometimes until someone shows you the magic swipes and the pressing of the logo on the bezel or the windows key on the keyboard. It certainly isn't the same experience as with IOS, but at least we're assured that Microsoft will probably not get sued for it, since it is so different.

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