ExtremeTech heard from a source close to Microsoft that Windows Blue is not only a new strategy for the desktop version of Windows but also for most of Microsoft's other product lines. Windows Blue is rumored to be the introduction of an annual release cycle for Windows, and according to the ExtremeTech report this will also apply for Windows Phone, Windows Server, and online services such as Hotmail and SkyDrive. Historically, Microsoft operated on a release cycle of around 3 years, but today the company's competitors - Android, iOS and OS X - are on an annual-or-faster release schedule.
Historically, Microsoft’s major products have usually been on a 3ish-year release cycle. This is a fairly standard timeframe in the software development world, especially when it comes to operating systems and productivity suites that need to be rigorously tested before being deployed on hundreds of millions of computers. Fast forward to today, though, and three years is quite literally a technological lifetime. So much can happen in three years that it’s virtually impossible for Microsoft to release a contemporary OS. In the time that it took Microsoft to fix Vista and release Windows 7, Facebook went from a few thousand users to 300 million users, and Apple released the first — and two more iterations — of the iPhone. Windows 8 began development before the initial release of the iPad — before the tablet market even existed — and wasn’t launched until after the iPad 3, by which point Apple had already won.