An early build of Windows Blue - the next major update to Windows 8 due out later this year - has leaked online with several changes and improvements.
The build that was leaked is from France in the form of a 32-bit edition as a 2.63GB ISO. Reports have noted it installs with no hassle on to a 32-bit machine, giving a clear indication of what features may arrive on the Windows platform in the coming months.
Like Windows Phone 8, Windows Blue includes the ability to customise the size of live tiles on the start screen. You can make tiles both smaller and larger and can change colours and make other personalisation changes. Furthermore, you can now swipe between the Start Screen and the Apps screen, as is featured on Windows Phone 8.
Microsoft has upgraded multitasking abilities in Windows Blue. You can now run two apps side by side at varying widths. This feature for desktop windows was first introduced in Windows 7, and now it is available for apps downloaded from the Windows Store. It can support a three or four app view as well.
The updates continue as Windows Blue brings changes to Charms. Users now have a "play" option under the Devices charm and a screenshot option under the Share charm. Lastly, Windows Blue brings Internet Explorer 11 to the platform. No new features within the new browser have been discovered as yet.
Reports have noted that Blue's intention is to bring Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 closer together, by including services from each platform. A Blue update is also expected for Windows Phone 8 later this year, with similar refinements.
Blue is rumoured to come at a cheaper price point than past Windows versions, much like Apple did with Mountain Lion and Lion. It should mark the start of yearly updates from Redmond.
Windows Blue is expected to be released later this year, with a developer preview build release in the coming months.