With Windows Phone 8 Apollo and Windows Phone 7.8 finally announced and revealed by Microsoft, one of the biggest questions that people wanted an answer about was how much, if anything, of Windows Phone 8 would make it over to existing Windows Phones.
As it happens the answer is…not much.
Of all the features announced for the new Windows Phone series, only the new start screen has been announced for existing phones. It will be called Windows Phone 7.8, which is a bit of a laugh when you consider it only contains one improvement over Windows Phone 7.5.
Well actually, that’s not quite true. Microsoft have so far released a ‘list’ of all the features coming to Windows Phone 7.8. It includes the start screen update, ‘awesome new features’ for Nokia Lumia owners and three new apps. Now, call me ungrateful but listing a new app as a ‘feature’ of a phone is frankly being completely disingenuous. And I’m not going to be impressed that other phones get exclusives while my Omnia 7 becomes even more obsolete. Releasing crap like this just makes the situation worse. Be honest, be up front, but don’t patronise people.
The obvious problem created here is that all existing phones, including ones bought right now, are already obsolete because once Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo is released, they’ll be completely out of date and won’t be able to use Windows Phone 8 apps. Worse still Microsoft have announced an intention to keep selling these phones even after the release of Windows Phone 8.
For the software to continue to have relevance it would need app developers to simultaneously release both Windows Phone 7 and 8 apps. This is not impossible, but it is rather unlikely.
For the record I understand why Microsoft have needed to cut the umbilical cord so to speak with Windows Phone 7.5. Windows Phone 8 will use a completely difference core code to Windows Phone 7, and therefore it’s inevitable that many of the features would not be compatible with older software.
There are three different hardware spec Windows Phones currently on the market, the low-end 256MB RAM phones, the mid-spec 1st gen (like mine) with 512MB RAM and 1ghz CPUs, and the high-spec (relative to Windows Phone) phones with 1.4ghz CPUs.
Even among the existing phones, I’d anticipate that what might be workable on a mid or high spec phone wouldn’t work on the low-end phones, further fragmenting the market.
Nonetheless, it’s totally unacceptable that Microsoft only plan on porting over the new start screen to existing handsets.
With that in mind, I’d urge you (presuming you use a Windows Phone) to sign this petition, which already has over
20,000 30,000 signatures, urging Microsoft to look again at the issue and port over as much software from Windows Phone 8 as possible to existing handsets.
I’ve no doubt that the planned Internet Explorer 10, which will arrive on Windows Phone 8, would need some significant re-coding to fit onto Windows Phone 7, but it’s a matter of basic fairness that Microsoft continue to support early adopters of Windows Phone for as long as possible, as without their early support Windows Phone would already be dead in the water.
So while I have no wish list of what I’d like to see come over from what’s been announced for Windows Phone 8, Microsoft do need to be clearer about what can make it over and do their utmost to continue to bring upgrades to the system.
Nokia has already suffered significant stock falls on the back of the Windows Phone 8 announcement, as it’s difficult to see how they will maintain sales expectations if customers know that the OS on existing Windows Phones is already obsolete.
It’s important Microsoft clear up this issue one way or another as the existing Windows Phone user base is far from happy.