A popular question in yesterday's mailbox:
"I've been reading a lot today about the possibility that it won't be possible to upgrade current Windows Phone 7 handsets to the Windows Phone 8 operating system when it is released. There's even concern that the Nokia Lumia 900 won't support Windows Phone 8.
I've just bought a Nokia Lumia 900. Have I made a mistake? Do you think Microsoft should offer an upgrade?"
First things first, the report that existing Windows Phone 7 handsets will not support the much-anticipated Windows Phone 8 operating system is based on an "unnamed trusted source." The only comment from Microsoft on the subject so far has been to say that all apps in the Marketplace will run of the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, Microsoft has "nothing to share about future releases."
Have you made a mistake in buying a Lumia 900? Well, right now it's hard to tell. A better question to ask yourself is whether you're happy with your Lumia 900 running Windows Phone 7, or whether you bought it with an eye on a future upgrade? If you're happy with the handset and the operating system, then don't let the possible lack of an upgrade path to Windows Phone 8 worry you. If you were hoping to upgrade, then this news may be worrying.
Apple is good at supporting older iPhone models when it comes to iOS updates. The current iOS 5.x release is supported all the way back to iPhone 3GS, a device that was released back in June 2009. Three years of iOS upgrades gives users confidence in the platform and the longevity of their purchase, and takes the handset beyond the terms of most people's contract with their carrier, which is the time most people choose to upgrade.
Compare this to handsets running Google's Android platform. Upgrades from one release to another are sporadic and cannot be guaranteed. About the only Android-powered hardware you can buy where you're certain of seeing updates and upgrades is the company's own Google Nexus line. The lack of updates for Android handsets doesn't seem to be hurting sales, with the company activating over 850,000 new devices daily.
The Apple model is reassuring for consumers, but Apple is in a privileged position where it controls the hardware and the software. The diversity of hardware -- not to mention carrier hassles -- caused Microsoft all sorts of problems when it came to pushing updates to handsets in the past. Perhaps the company is looking to draw a line under the current hardware line-up with an eye to streamlining updates for newer handsets? This would make sense, but it offers no comfort to those who have already taken a chance on the Windows Phone platform.
Another possible reason for Microsoft dropping support for older hardware is that Windows Phone 8 has different hardware requirements to Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. This might mean that supporting existing hardware is either not possible, or at least complicated. However, each iteration of the iPhone has bought new hardware to the table, yet Apple continues to maintain excellent support for its older hardware going back several years. It takes effort, but it keeps customers happy. And happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers become repeat customers.
Personally, I hope that Microsoft does support older hardware with Windows Phone 8, but at this moment I'm not hopeful. I think the best that we can hope for is that there will be support for some of the current Windows Phone 7 hardware.
Maybe you'll be lucky and your Lumia 900 will end up being supported.
Image credit: Nokia.
- CNET: No Windows Phone 8 upgrade for you?
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