Windows Blue Renamed Windows 8.1: Can It Save Surface Pro, RT, And Windows 8 From Failure?

For a while it was unclear whether Windows Blue would be a simple update to Windows 8 or a full-fledged successor (Windows 9). Since all those Windows Blue leaks hit the Internet last week, it's become increasingly clear that it's going to be an upgrade, and the new name confirms it: Microsoft will rename Windows Blue to Windows 8.1.

What's more, Windows 8.1 is scheduled to be released this August. Windows 8.1 isn't quite as snazzy a name as Blue, but it does hold the benefit of being easier for Microsoft to explain.

This news isn't official yet, so you can probably mark it down as a rumor for now, but the information comes courtesy of ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, whose anonymous source confirmed the change from Windows Blue to Windows 8.1.

Corroborating Foley's account, though, is a leaked screenshot of Windows Blue that's been dubbed Windows 8.1. The image was posted to Twitter by @AngleWZR, and it seems like a legitimate capture at this point.

Microsoft doesn't plan to market Windows 8.1 as a separate entity; in fact, when it's released it will still go by the umbrella term of "Windows 8."

While Windows 8.1 looks like a very welcome improvement over the current Windows 8 (here are the features we're most excited about), the big question is whether or not it can boost the momentum of the new Surface Pro and RT tablet lines, as well as Windows 8 computers in general. Many analysts and tech watchers have expressed serious doubts abouut the new OS (and tablets), and the new numbers might not inspire much confidence.

According to Information Week, Windows 8's market share grew to 3.17 percent in February. That's up from 2.67 percent the month before, but the operating system's growth rate has plunged since launch.

"After launching at the end of October, Windows 8 adoption increased 57.8% between November and December, before dropping to 31.4% between December and January and 18.1% between January and February," writes Information Week. "March's growth rate of 18.7% will likely do little to silence the OS's critics but it at least stemmed what had been precipitous month-over-month declines in momentum."

Windows 7, meanwhile, owns 44.73 percent of the Windows market. That's actually increased slightly since the release of Windows 8.

Windows 8.1 should be able to help Microsoft sell more Surface Pro/RT tablets and computers, though. Combine its release with the rumors of 7-inch Windows 8.1-powered Surface tablets, as well as tablets from other computer makers, and it's likely that Windows 8 will see growth by the end of the year.  Whether or not it'll be enough to stave off concerns that Windows 8 is a failed platform, though: we'll have to wait and see.

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