Clarifying The Updates Coming To The Windows UI

It appears, judging by Twitter, that lots of people haven’t been following my tweets or reading the stories by Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott. So let’s clear up what is happening in the upcoming updates.

Windows 8.1 (and Windows Server 2012 R2) Update

On April 8th, via Windows Update, you will be receiving updates to:

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

These updates (6 in the package) will both prepare and update the UI of the OS. These updates are small UI changes to help non-touch users get a better experience. Instead of me wasting bandwidth, go read the comprehensive review by Paul Thurrott.

A less mentioned change is that this update will change how enterprise sideloading works. This feature allows you to push apps by bypassing the official Microsoft app store. I haven’t seen the specifics that I’ve been briefed on printed in the public so I won’t say much more, other than, it’s a great news story with cost reductions.

Windows vNext (Windows 9 or Windows 8.2)

The big changes are coming in the next version of Windows in 2015. These include the return of the Start MENU and the ability to run Universal Windows Apps in windows on the desktop.

What we know about licensing is that:

  • Windows IoT (Internet of Things): A new micro-device OS edition will be free.
  • Sub-9” devices: Windows for mobile devices will be free.

Both of these moves are to encourage OEMs to produce using Windows and to give you cost-competitive devices.

Nothing else is known. However, I continue to advise buying Software Assurance (in the biz) via EA (enterprise) or OVS (small/medium biz) for at least:

  • Server OS (it’s cheaper if you use virtualization, and license per host like you should be)
  • Any server CALs (Windows Server, RDS, etc)

Why? ….

Will The UI Updates Be Back-Ported To Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012?


Does any software business do this? You see Apple doing this? Does Google do this for Android? No.

Pay attention to licensing experts next time around, and get that Software Assurance if you don’t want to be left behind. Feeling screwed? Pity, because you probably screwed yourself by locking yourself into a single version of software.

4 thoughts on “Clarifying The Updates Coming To The Windows UI”

  1. @Aidan: Are you saying above that you think “Open Value Subscription” (OVS) is the better option for SMB vs. Open Value (perpetual) with continue Software Assurance renewals?

  2. To clarify, I think people are feeling screwed by Microsoft backpedaling heavily on the UI, and offering those UI fixes to people running Windows 8 for free. I’m not expecting them to back port updates to storage spaces or other OS enhancements. When your message to customers is, “yeah with Windows 8 we messed up the UI badly enough to offer fixes for free” but if you’re a RDS customer and that message is, “with Server 2012 we messed up the UI but we want you to pay for the fixes” you can understand why business owners can be a bit confused. I get it, they should have paid for SA.

    And Android updates are free, so are Chrome OS updates, and so are all Apple OS updates. The whole OS is a free upgrade in all of those cases…so a free UI update doesn’t matter since you get the full OS for free.

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