Apollo Plus: Is this Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8 update?

Apollo Plus: Is this Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8 update?

Summary: Could Microsoft add VPN support to the Windows Phone 8 operating system next year via an interim update codenamed 'Apollo Plus'?


It's been kind of odd that no codename for the successor to the Windows Phone 8 operating system had leaked ... until November 26 (if the rumors are right).


Here's a quick codename refresher. The Windows Phone team has been all about the O's. Windows Phone 7 OS was codenamed NoDo. Then there was Mango (Windows Phone 7.5). A minor interim update arrived next, codenamed Tango. And Windows Phone 8 OS was codenamed Apollo. Joe Belfiore(o), Manager of the Windows Phone Program, said a while back that the team was finished with codenames ending in "O."

So what was Windows Phone 8's successor going to be called?

Winsyde.com posted earlier today that the next release would be codenamed "Apollo +," and that it would be available in Q1 2013 -- citing the @Football4PDA Twitter account as the source. The Verge subsequently posted that the codename of Windows Phone OS 8's follow-on would be "Apollo Plus." (Maybe the ban on codenames ending with O doesn't start till Windows Phone 9 OS?)

The Verge's Tom Warren also reported that Microsoft would share details about the update at the Mobile World Congress show in February 2013. The Verge cited unnamed sources as providing the information, and said the coming update could include features like VPN support, a WiFi connectivity fix and audio improvements.

VPN support is an interesting one, given Microsoft officials said in June of this year that Microsoft had decided against including VPN functionality in the Windows Phone operating system (even though it had been included in Windows Phone OS' predecessor, Windows Mobile). A Microsoft official told me that Microsoft has decided instead to rely on things like Secure SSL to address this need... as they considered Secure SSL "a better, light-weight approach" to providing this kind of functionality in the new BYOD (bring your own device) world.

I've since heard from a number of business users that no VPN support was a deal breaker for their organizations in adopting Windows Phone. I've also heard from users in countries with governments that censor their citizens' Web-browsing that VPN is a much-desired feature for circumventing officially imposed firewalls.

I asked Microsoft whether the next version of the Windows Phone OS was codenamed "Apollo Plus" and whether VPN connectivity will be part of it. Not surprisingly, a spokesperson said only that the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.

If Microsoft does refer to the minor, interim update to Windows Phone 8 OS as "Apollo Plus," that might help dampen user expectations a bit. With Tango, many users were expecting a lot more, feature-wise, than ended up being part of that update because it had its own special codename.

Meanwhile, I also asked Microsoft about the whereabouts of the Windows Phone OS 7.8 update -- the one that is slated to allow existing Windows Phone 7 users to make use of resizable tiles on their phones. A Microsoft spokesperson said "More information on 7.8 will be available in the coming weeks.”

As to the rumors circulating that 7.8 might be available this week, I'm doubtful. I think Microsoft might announce the release to manufacturing of 7.8 this week, but I'm hearing the update may not be available from the carriers until early next year (maybe even as late as February 2013).

Topics: Smartphones, Networking, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • When you ask a Microsoft employee...

    When you call them and ask for informations regarding fixes and new stuff to come, they almost always the same thing. They are very positive about the fixes coming soon and many other features.

    Microsoft seems to be serious about this and it's good to see that they care about people's reviews, They don't ignore them like many people seems to believe since some clueless "pros" said so...

    When Sinofsky was fired there was more talk about a notification center for Windows phone 8 and also the return of the Start button on the desktop screen in Windows 8. Sinofsky seemed to be some sort of problem for Microsoft and now that he's gone, I believe Microsoft is a better company.
    Simon Tupper
    • Steven Sinofsky's departure

      Just because he left doesn't mean that's a good thing. Julie-Larsen Green seems to be exactly like him in her way of thinking of Windows 8. Just like Steven Sinofsky doesn't want the start button in Windows 8, neither does Julie-Larsen Green. She helped make Windows 8 what it is today.
    • Sinofsky was a scapegoat.

      No executive (including the CEO) has unlimited attribution to do and act freely. The sole exception was Steve Jobs.
      So, the (bad) strategy behind windows 8 and windows phone 8 wasn't 100% caused by Sinofsky but the whole "upper team", or more specifically Balmer.
      • That's a contridiction

        You said no executive (including the CEO) has unlimited attribution to do and act freely.
        then you said that the sole exception was Steve Jobs

        So your you first sentence was wrong, and maybe so is the second one then?
        NoMore MicrosoftEver
  • Q1 2013...

    If it ends up being a Tango-like update, I will be complaining for the next several months as I impatiently wait for it. The WAV file issue (playing Exchange voicemails) and the weird/random battery life issues (I'm 100% convinced it has nothing to do with background apps having experienced the issue in battery saver mode with all apps shutdown) need to be addressed QUICKLY, and their ability to OTA push means they SHOULD do it quickly.

    If it's a much bigger update that includes fixes AND features, then woohoo! Even though I'm anxious to get some of these fixes, there's no denying that WP8 is a nice improvement over WP7 with the new home screen, camera, and API changes. Right now, I'm just hoping that app developers get on the ball to release app updates that use those changes.
    • Why would you have to wait for it?

      Won't Windows Phone 8 do the "carrier free OTA" updates?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Nope..

        Windows Phone update still have to go through carrier approval as far as I know.
        • They need to do something about that

          The carriers really suck when it comes to actually letting people update.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • iPhone is made by Apple, WP phones are not made by MS

            This is an issue where you have a variety of phones with different hardware interfaces and carrier radios that need to be tested using different carriers networks. So, while the iPhone can be tested against different carrier networks, it is much harder to then test all the different phones and network combiniations. So, MS has the carriers do it. (I am not sure why the OEMs for the phones don't instead of the carriers since they must be able to test the phons in design and development.) So, I think that is why MS still goes through the carriers for final testing and firmware updates.
          • So tired of that excuse

            It's not like every update should do something to the radio anyway, so the whole carrier bit shouldn't be a problem. The hardware shouldn't be a problem either for the same reason Windows has been doing their own updates for a long time.

            Dell, Acer, HP, and so forth all use different hardware... yet Microsoft is still able to push whatever updates they want.

            No, this is simply them bowing down with the hopes that the carriers won't freeze them out.

            This shouldn't be an issue at all. If Microsoft can update Windows on the PC directly, they should be able to update Windows on a phone directly.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • You misunderstand

            Microsoft would be delighted if the carriers allowed them to do all the device testing & certification necessary to push a new OS release.

            Apple, too, has to certify its devices and OS upgrades with carriers before they're released into the wild.

            Sadly, the carriers are trying to flex their "muscles" and demand that they, and only they can certify devices and platform updates prior to permitting their use on their networks.
          • If you don't know, don't make stuff up.

            "Apple, too, has to certify its devices and OS upgrades with carriers before they're released into the wild."
            How come Apple can get their updates tested and deployed faster? Why do updates work across all networks? what is Microsoft doing wrong? If you can update an iPhone over WiFi, how come you can't do that with WP 7, 7.1, 7. w/Mango updates, 7.5 7.5 w/Mango updates, and 7.6?
            Troll Hunter J
          • nope

            Mostly in in USA.

            But others like USA carriers, still want money from every feature update. They give free updates for bug fixes and security fixes, but demanding few dollars per handset for feature update is just greedy.

            That after all carriers needs testing for their modifications from OEM what pays lot per handset model.

            The problem is that there is two greedy sides and both want money for their shareholders without them doing anything to help world.
          • Test Schmest

            The carrier network protocols etc are only rarely updated and it's big news when they do. Testing phone os updates to see if they still work with the carrier networks they previously worked with sounds like testing pc os updates to see if they still work with the ethernet switches and wireless networks they previously worked with (imagine a corporate IT dept saying you couldn't use your pc on the network after an MS Windows update until they tested it!). It's all BS. People don't really test os updates these days esp at the client end - it's an 'on the fly' world XD
          • nope

            Sorry, corporations IT does all testing before they push update to workers computers.
            They have own virtualization and testing environments to do it. All changes are run grouchy testing by good IT department. That is reason why you don't allow worker to install anything without permission or change anything without permission (well, wallpaper is allowed but some even lock it as well).

            OS update is definetely the one what needs to be tested (and I am talking about operating system, not that marketing BS what most people when they use "operating system" from software system like windows or OSX) As if OS crash every process affected by that OS function or all of them will crash. And even upper level updates to system programs or libraries can cause terrible risk for crash. Even every application needs to be tested again. You really don't want to push a update to 10 000 workers if it cause 20% change a single crash once a week.
          • WP updating

            Microsoft should push the updates themselves. They say its because of different hardware types but we have that with Windows and they still do it. With Windows Phone they only have a few different type of parts they can use except maybe the screen. The PC has hundreds of different combinations of motherboards, video cards, sound cards...etc.
  • When you hear the sentence

    more information on 7.8 will be available in the coming weeks when talking phones, I take that as: we are trying to get the carriers to allow this as they would rather have people just buy new Windows 8 phones.
    NoMore MicrosoftEver
    • RE:When you hear the sentence

      If that were true it wouldn't cost me 300 plus bucks to get a new L810 from T-Mobile. They say I am eligible in May 2013. Since I have to wait for a reasonable upgrade price then I shouldn't have to wait for 7.8
      Rick Spears
    • Carrier contract with Microsoft

      Supposedly this is an update the carriers can't block under the new contract with Microsoft. So they should have to bring it out. Even Sprint the carrier that doesn't have a Windows Phone 8 device.
      • I didn't know that

        I thought things where still the same
        NoMore MicrosoftEver