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Windows Phone 8 may drop WP7-era phones entirely

updated 01:45 pm EST, Fri March 2, 2012

Windows Phone 8 may need new phones to work

Hopes that Windows Phone devices would get long term updates may have been dashed early through a combination of leaks and statements. Tips for the historically very accurate Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet have indicated that Apollo, informally known as Windows Phone 8, won't be handed out to any earlier devices. While Microsoft hadn't confirmed it, the company's Windows Phone Corporate VP Terry Myerson said in a Mobile World Congress event was elusive on updating existing phones and would only say that apps would switch over.

"We haven't announced Windows Phone 8, but in terms of [compatibility] I can show you our goal to [make sure] all Windows Phone 7 applications will run on Windows Phone 8," he said. "Application compatibility is always something, where there's always stuff on the fringe... the spirit is our goal that all Windows Phone applications today run on our next release."

The approach if authenticated could create a rocky transition for a platform that already has small market share. With devices released just months before Apollo possibly being denied an update, it would see the entire existing customer base going without new features other than those coming through apps. Details of the new OS are few but, in rumors, have suggested an at least partly unified code base with Windows 8 on the desktop as well as support for multi-core processors and NFC wireless.

Cutting off existing owners so soon would paradoxically undermine Microsoft's attempt to give Windows Phone owners the advantage of speedy, universal updates, as with the iPhone. While Google has often been criticized for letting companies drop Android update support too quickly, it would still leave many Android devices with a longer support lifespan than Windows Phone 7.

by MacNN Staff



  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No big deal

    If there were many millions of WP7 devices out there, then not being able to upgrade would be a huge problem. But there aren't, so it isn't.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    While Google has often been criticized for letting companies drop Android update support too quickly, it would still leave many Android devices with a longer support lifespan than Windows Phone 7.

    How is that? Since all we hear about is how so many phone makers don't ever update their Android OS.

    And isn't it making the assumption that there would be no updates to Windows 7 phone after 8 is released?

    Oh, right. You're also making the assumption that the fact they didn't announce it means it won't happen. Then again, if they did release it, we'd hear how WIndows 8 phone is being hampered by all its backward compatibility for the earlier hardware. Not that we won't hear how its being hampered by the backward compatibility for the earlier apps.

  1. jdonahoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: huh?

    I can almost guarantee from past experience that MS will not release any updates to Win7 phones once Win8 is released. They may say in the future that they will issue an update for a specific phone, but you'll be sadly disappointed if you expect an actual update.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I doubt most buyers of WP7

    smartphones will even care as long as WP7 OS gets maintenance updates. When they purchased those WP7 smartphones there was never any guarantee of them getting a WP8 OS. As was mentioned, since there were so few WP7 handsets sold, it won't affect that many users. Those WP7 smartphones will still work as intended for the term of the carrier contract. Not such a big deal. I think that WP8 should be released with updated hardware and let that be the starting point for Microsoft's mobile initiative from 2012 on.

  1. facebook_Jack

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2012


    I'm a big critic when it comes to my WP7 phones, b

    I am a strong critic when it comes to my welfare of gaining the features I need on my own Windows Phone. As a matter of fact, I’ve written emails to Steve Ballmer to criticize on their weaknesses, I will say that there may be a good reason behind releasing Windows Phone 8 only on new hardware.

    1. The OS has been rewritten based on Windows 8 kernel. To make it backwards compatible with existing hardware running Windows Phone 7, they would have to implement additional codes into the OS which can potentially and significantly slow down the performance of both new and older hardware.
    2. We’ve all seen newer versions of iOS deployed across older hardware platforms. They run extremely sluggish and have caused a lot of customers to complain. As a matter of fact, look at the iPhone 4S, it’s nothing but bugs and latency. I think it is best to learn from history and our competitors to ensure quality over quantity. MSFT do not need any more bad press while they still have trouble growing Windows Phone adoptions.
    3. We’ve also seen the evolution of Windows OS over the past decade or two. The more backward compatible we try to make the OS, the larger the codebase becomes. This not only requires more processing power but it is directly tied to power consumption and performance of your phone.
    4. In addition, incorporating old codes would simply open up a whole new can of worms. Not only the frequency of patches will increase, it would also cause the system to become slower over time. And you’ve seen how AT&T has delayed some patch deployments on post Mango updates already. This would decrease the potential negative impacts when we get new hardware.
    5. Keeping the OS as light weight as possible will only improve the hardware requirements down the line. I understand not everyone goes through new hardware like I do, every 6 months (or less) *sigh* But a light weight OS can also allow high quality (but cheaper) phones to be developed so a user can upgrade without costing them a fortune. Look at Android for example, with every OS upgrade, they require some type of memory, processor and speed upgrade. We actually want great performance with graphics and speed to be utilized for apps and games rather than the overhead of the OS itself.
    6. Last but not least, keeping a new OS kosher would only help developers to come up with less buggy apps and trim down the amount of time for testing and fixing bugs. It’s actually a nice incentive for more companies wanting to create apps on the Windows Phone platform.

    I don’t always agree with how Microsoft made their moves on their Phone and Windows OS developments. As a matter of fact, I probably have more criticisms such as their crappy marketing strategy and champagne and also customer support being relied on OEMs, etc. But with this particular decision, I believe we may or hoping that we can come to an agreement that it may be more beneficial for us down the road.

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