Should you be worried about Windows Phone 7 upgrades?

Should you be worried about Windows Phone 7 upgrades?

Summary: "I've just bought a Lumia 900. Have I made a mistake?"


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 creditNokia.


Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • IF

    Microsoft can't update current phones to WP8 (Apollo), than Windows Phone is sunk. Period.

    We're stuck on two-year contracts that eliminate the possibility of going out and constantly buying new phones like it's kosher. I fully expect to be supported for those two years. While I LOVE Windows Phone, I can't buy into an ecosystem that won't support me for that time period.

    Microsoft needs to put on their big boy shorts for Windows Phone and eliminate the middle man (carriers). It's bullshit enough that I have to sit here with the disappearing keyboard bug while AT&T continually mocks its subscribers by sitting on the fix. Carriers want money, and to do that, they pretty much force users into buying new sets.

    Don't go the Android route. Microsoft, if you want to start gaining in the mobile market you pretty much HAVE to match or beat iOS, which Apple has no problems supporting on last it's last two generation of phones/devices.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Agree completely...

      Microsoft has to piss or get off the pot and make the decision to be in that market or not. I just got a 900 and am very worried that it won't have an upgrade path to fact, I am thinkng about returning the phone (I'm inside the 30 day period) until the dust settles. Of course this sucks for Nokia as a lot of people are in my position and are either delayiong the purchase or returning like me.
      • Look at the features in 8 Vs. 7.8

        and ask yourself if you even need the update. You should be concerned about the features of the phone meeting your needs / wants. You shouldn't be concerned with the version number of the OS.
    • Absolutely right

      This is only one of several reasons why I abandoned Android and went back to iOS. When I bought my EvoShift it was *THE* latest and greatest hardware for Android. In less than 5 months I stopped receiving updates for it. No OS updates, no security updates, *nothing*. When updates that are compatible with my hardware are pushed, but I can't get them without rooting the phone, my confidence in the technology suffers.
    • Carrier Interference

      @Cylon We all know the carriers--not Microsoft--are to blame for the current delays in updates to Windows Phone devices. But how do you propose Microsoft fix that?

      They don't have the leverage Apple has, so they can't strong-arm the carriers.

      Can they theoretically bypass the carriers completely and sell direct to consumers? Yeah, but that would be awfully difficult. While building the brand name, they desperately need the carriers to help promote WP devices.

      So basically, Microsoft is screwed. They have to capitulate to the carriers for now. They were naive to have thought this wouldn't be the case.
      • How is Apple different

        Ok, so carriers are to blame and not Microsoft?

        Then, how does it all work for Apple?

        Come on, Microsoft are the greater company than Apple -- it is not possible that Apple can do something, that Microsoft cannot.

        Of course, there is always the chance that Microsoft never intended to support these older WP versions. For free, that is.
      • Apple was first to the table

        Apple is different--it has leverage--because it was the first to the table with a truly amazing smartphone. Nobody else made anything like the iPhone, so demand was huge and Apple could make tough demands. Apple is still, years later, enjoying the momentum created in those early days.

        Microsoft now brings a great platform to the table, but they're late and have done a crappy job of marketing; most people STILL haven't heard of Windows Phone. So the demand is modest, which gives Microsoft little leverage with carriers.

        Let me ask you... What specific actions would you suggest Microsoft take to force carriers to allow its updates?
    • I never purchased my WP7 with the thought that I could upgrade it

      to Windows 8, nor did I imagine that an old phone would upgrade to a new OS two years later. Even Android phones have encountered this.

      I do believe that Microsoft would support those with WP7 devices, just as they have with their server and desktop OS's.
      John Zern
    • I have the first motorola droid model...

      I am still on android 2.3. The sky hasn't fallen and droid isn't sunk... I guess Microsoft will be okay too.
  • The Answer to the Questions is

    Likely yes. Yes you made a mistake buying the Lumia. Would you have bought a new laptop without knowing it would upgrade to the next version of Windows due out in 6-8 months (OSX or Linux either)? If MSFT were to announce that the phones would upgrade to Win 8, sales would instantly increase at no additional cost to MSFT. That they have not made such an announcement tells you all you need to know.
    • Doubt it

      I don't think most people buy a phone with the primary question whether they can upgrade it later. There've been lots of things lately that we might have expected a statement on and nothing was said.
    • What fantastic logic

      "That they have not made such an announcement tells you all you need to know."

      Guess all iPhone 4S buyers made a mistake because Apple has not stated that iPhone 4S will be upgradeable to iOS 6.
    • Known story...

      Years ago, I brought an workstation class laptop from HP, running Windows XP. It had this famous "Vista ready" label on it... and, guess what? When Vista came out, it turned out to not be compatible. I had to hack it's bios to get Windows 7 on it eventually... shortly before it was no longer used. It never had official Vista support.
  • No

    You buy a phone you keep it for two years then you sign up for two more years and get another phone. Who says you have to have the new phone every 6 months when they come out? Get over it!
    • I don't understand this either

      You buy a subsidized phone for $200 because the carrier expects you to have it for 2 years. After 6 months, a nicer phone comes out. Your subsidized handset is worth $400 off contract. The new phone is $499 off contract. If you really have to have the latest greatest device, pay the price.
  • Get out of your cage in order to see the real world!

    Have fun :
  • Please,

    buy a phone to use, not to upgrade.

    Anyway, at the current phase of the technology, smartphones older than 12-18 months would be very old and not worth upgrading.

      iPhone 3GS is still a currently retailing entry level iPhone, and works a treat with IOS5.1.
  • Can I upgrade my Android to the next version of Android?

    Did I make a mistake buy buying it?
    William Farrel
    • Funny

      Because one of the major difference Microsoft marketing team pointed out early was how they are not going to be like Android, when it comes to upgrades.