Previous releases of Windows typically followed every three years or so, but now a rumor is making the rounds that Microsoft is planning to move Windows to an annual release cycle. The first move towards an annual Windows release cycle is "Windows Blue", a Windows 8 update that is expected to arrive in mid-2013.
The Verge reports Blue will include user interface (UI) changes and alterations to the entire platform and pricing. The update is anticipated to keep using the Windows 8 name, perhaps something along the lines of Windows 8.1, and will be be either low cost or even free to ensure that users upgrade.
One of the important changes that Microsoft will introduce with Blue is that it will stop accepting apps that are built specifically for the current version of Windows 8. Current apps will continue to run on Blue, but in order to avoid fragmentation of the platform, Windows Store app developers will always have to use the latest Windows SDK.
We understand that you will need a genuine copy of Windows to upgrade to Windows Blue. Built-in apps and the Windows Store will cease functioning if a copy is upgraded that is pirated. Sources tell us that Microsoft will likely keep the Windows 8 name for the foreseeable future, despite the Windows Blue update. A big part of Windows Blue is the push towards yearly updates for Microsoft’s OS. Microsoft will kick off an annual upgrade cycle for Windows that is designed to make it more competitive against rival platforms from Apple and Google.
Neowin adds that PC industry analysts see the shorter Windows release cycle as a good thing for consumers because they'll see more regular feature updates to the software that they're using. For enterprises on the other hand a yearly release cycle doesn't bode so well.
Fast release cycles typically hurt the enterprise as IT administrators need time to test updates before deploying them to vast networks. Some analysts believe the solution to this problem would be to split up the release cycle to cater for both consumers - who prefer shorter release cycles - and enterprise customers.