Will Microsoft’s Windows Release Cadence Increase to Twice Per Year?

Yesterday we reported on new rumors regarding Windows 8.2 (or Windows 8.1 Update 2 or Autumn Update) and Windows 9. Russian leaker WZOR has asserted that Windows 8.2 is likely to be released this fall. Mary Jo Foley says she has independently heard it may be released as early as August (2014).

Previous to Windows 8.1, Microsoft typically took three years to release the next version of Windows. The exception to this was Windows Vista. It took nearly 5 years after the initial release of Windows XP until Windows Vista came out. Of course the issue is slightly more nuanced, Windows XP SP2 could have considered a new version of Windows and Project Longhorn was scrapped and Windows Vista was written in about 2.5 years. Between Windows Vista to Windows 7 to Windows 8 about three years passed between each OS. Windows 8.1 was released about one year after Windows 8.0. Windows 8.1 Update was released six months after the release of Windows 8.1. Windows 8.2 is currently rumored to be released about 6 months after the release of Windows 8.1 Update.

So the move from historically releasing Windows every 3 years to every year was quite significant (a 3x increase in shipping time). Given the trend with Windows 8.1 Update, we may now see Windows being released twice per year, or every six months. One update in the fall and one in the spring. This means Windows 9 could be released in the Spring of 2015, in a similar timeframe as Windows 8.1 Update.

If Windows starts to release at a faster cadence this could mean other parts of the organization may be forced to pick up the pace too. Windows Phone may not get the luxury of having 18 months before the next release. Terry Myerson has not officially commented on any of this, so only time will tell.