Microsoft is transitioning, folks. While the “Windows” brand persists, it seems clear that the company is willing to make changes that would have seemed insane to anyone with an interest in the Redmond company even two years ago. Microsoft is planning to ship an update to Windows 8 with various UI tweaks and new features, as well as the traditional bug fixes, next year. That’s 2013 – typically, Windows updates come about three years after the previous version shipped. And, further breaking from tradition, it won’t be a service pack.
Because of the increased competition from Apple and Android, Microsoft is moving forward with a more aggressive cycle, and they hope that both consumers and their bottom line will benefit from this move. According to both ZDNet and The Verge, Microsoft will be shipping an update to Windows every year. While Windows releases have previously been expensive, the updates will be cheaper (rumored prices vary, though the consensus is that it will be cheaper than Windows 8 upgrades).
The details of this new strategy are sparse, and nothing has been officially confirmed by Microsoft, though both ZDNet and The Verge have historically excellent sources and are rarely incorrect. These confirmations also solidify the various rumors that were being whispered throughout the internet that Microsoft had similar plans.