Does Microsoft's end-of-life date for Windows Phone 8 mean 9 is near?

Does Microsoft's end-of-life date for Windows Phone 8 mean 9 is near?

Summary: Microsoft let users know just when it'll wrap up support for Windows Phone 8, suggesting - along with other hints - that Windows Phone 9 is not so far away.

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Could the end of Microsoft's the mainstream support for Windows Phone 8 on July 2014 suggest a release date for Windows Phone 9?

In an update to its support page published this week, Microsoft confirmed that support for Windows Phone 7.8, released in February 2013, will end on 9 September 2014, while support for Windows Phone 8, released in October 2012 but with a lifecycle start date of December, will come to end in July 2014.

As Microsoft notes, that means support for Windows Phone operating systems will last for a year and a half.

"Microsoft will make updates available for the Operating System on your phone, including security updates, for a period of 18 months after the lifecycle start date. Distribution of the updates may be controlled by the mobile operator or the phone manufacturer from which you purchased your phone. Update availability will also vary by country, region, and hardware capabilities," it says on the support page.

Responding to concern this could means Windows Phone 8 users could be stranded with non-supported devices, Microsoft's Windows Phone team tweeted: "As we've said, one benefit of moving to the Windows core is that Windows Phone is upgradeable."

The confirmation that the clock is ticking for Windows Phone 8 will spur speculation that the next iteration of Microsoft's mobile operating system is already in the works.

The first hints have begun to arrive to suggest that's the case: a number of reports have picked up on a Microsoft job posting looking for a "software test engineer in the Windows Phone Test Services Team currently testing Windows 9 OS on Nokia, HTC and Qualcomm devices" (thought to be a reference to Windows Phone 9, rather than the next desktop OS) and another for a SDET lead to help automate "the test of deployment of XAP/AAPX application from Microsoft Store to Windows Phone 9".

It would be far from a surprise if Microsoft was already in the testing stages of Windows Phone 9 given its once yearly cadence for major mobile OS releases: Windows Phone 7.5 Mango was released in September 2011, followed by Windows Phone 8 in October the following year. Should Microsoft follow the same schedule for the next release, Windows Phone 9 is likely to be six months away, over six months before support for Windows Phone 8 comes to a close.

Topics: Windows Phone, Microsoft, Mobility

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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22 comments
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  • Could Windows Blue be Windows 9?

    I've been speculating about this for a couple of weeks now... and, admittedly, it's just that--speculation. But since the kernel of Windows Blue is different than Windows 8, it warrants a new number--"9". That's how it's always worked in the past. Furthermore, if the changes are significant enough to the UI (and a lot of us hope they are), then bumping the number up to "9" would be a good way to rinse the bad taste of Windows 8 out of people's mouths (even though I don't think it's that bad), and give the OS a fresh start.

    We already know where Microsoft is headed. They want one OS that powers everything--desktop, laptop, tablet, phone & Xbox. They probably won't achieve that until late 2014... or "Windows 10" / "Windows X". Windows 9 could be the "missing link" between Windows 8 & Windows X--one OS to rule them all. The Holy Grail of tech.

    I can't wait to find out.
    newyorkcitymale
    • I guess I should've mentioned Windows Phone...

      The rumor is that Windows Phone Blue is running slightly behind Windows Blue (which I suspect is really Windows 9). If Windows Blue is to be released in August... and then Windows Phone Blue a few months later... then that would put us precisely where Liam Tang thinks Windows Phone 9 may be released (based on his calculations). So, again, this leads me to suspect that Windows Blue will be called "Windows 9." And Windows Phone Blue will be "Windows Phone 9"... and both will be out this year.

      Again, total speculation on my part. :)
      newyorkcitymale
      • Blue is a Service Pack to Windows 8.

        Due June 7th, 2013. Windows 9 = November, 2014.
        Microsoft is moving to annual updates to OSes like Apple.
        As a side-note, as U all may already know that on the other hand Canonical has said that 6-Month updates to Ubuntu have ben slowed down to bi-annual updates, the next being Ubuntu 13.0 Raring Ring-Tail, STUVWXYZ = Ubuntu naming sequence :D
        Anant Malik
        • What?

          Ubuntu isn't being "slowed down", it's possibly being made into a "rolling release".

          Big difference, since a rolling release is one that just keeps getting updated with the newest stuff. :|
          Michael Alan Goff
  • Win 9

    It seems like a poor marketing move to announce to current and potential buyers that support will end before their contract does.
    krossbow
    • Support is ending bcoz 8.5 updwill b issued to users bfore that. Simple. :D

      Support is ending bcoz 8.5 update will b issued to users bfore that. Simple. :D
      Anant Malik
      • The personal touch

        So kind of Microsoft to reach out to their concerned customers directly in blog comments. It is this personal touch that shows a new era of corporate communications is upon us. Just for the record though, your job title at Microsoft?
        symbolset
        • He doesn't need a title

          It's pure logic. Windows Phone 7 was released in 2010. If 7.8 refreshed that 18 month cycle, logic would mean that refreshing the version number for WP8 would also reset that 18 month counter... and the 18 month counter has been widely discussed on tech sites.

          Just because someone says something that isn't bashing Microsoft doesn't mean they work for them. Perhaps it means that they aren't filled with hatred for a company.
          ikissfutebol
      • Anant Malik announces this on behalf of MS?

        WP8 handsets being upgradeable to WP9 is a desirable and useful thing that would continue to drive adoption of WP8 handsets up to WP9 release. Rather than "WP8 is upgradeable" Microsoft could announce that "Models x,y,z" will run Windows 9 and alleviate people's fears - expecially after the W7.x debacle. But they don't. They don't explicitly say that these phones will be upgradeable to the new OS and that means they won't. What they do say is that it could be done - not that it will.

        From my experience that means they won't, no matter how much their reputation-management representatives tell you they will in the comments. We had that with Vista, WP7, and so on - people claiming to be in the know who it turns out, didn't.

        If Microsoft intended your WP8 handset to be compatible with their next version OS, don't you think they would brag that? It's a huge selling feature and a reason to not hold off purchasing. There can be only one reason why they don't make this claim under their own name: it ain't gonna happen.
        symbolset
  • Hmm,

    Haha, my old Win7 Phone works great and is off contract, maybe I should upgrade :). Looking for some cool models to come out from Nokia.
    seadoodle
    • You won't have to wait too long.....

      ;-)
      Zarniw00p
  • No. It means Windows Phone 8.5 Update is near.

    No. It means Windows Phone 8.5 Update is near. As a side-note, I'd like to say that having competition and choices in the Smart-Phone Market is in favour of consumers. :D
    Anant Malik
  • Lumia Series are good Smart-Phones.

    Apple vs Samsung vs Nokia ( vs Blackberry = Eliminated. ) :D
    Anant Malik
  • Only 1.5 years?

    I've got a iPhone 3GS and I'm still getting updates to an almost 4 year old phone.
    Maybe the current WP8 models can be updated to WP9, but previous experience makes me doubtful. I've had PocketPC/ Windows Mobile devices in the past, which is the main reason I don't buy mobile devices with a MS OS any more.
    Renting
    • Only 1.5 years?

      How long does apple continue providing updates to older versions of ios? From what I can tell, updates to older ios versions end the day the new ios version comes out (though if someone can provide links to the contrary, please do).

      "Maybe the current WP8 models can be updated to WP9, but previous experience makes me doubtful."

      Valid concern. It is crazy that MS decided to release half the message (we will be soon cutting support for WP8) without releasing the other half (but don't worry, your WP8 devices will all be upgradable so that your device support will continue for many years).

      The last thing prospective WP8 consumers need is more uncertainty.

      "which is the main reason I don't buy mobile devices with a MS OS any more."

      The big difference with those old OSs is that they were FAR more customizable with 3rd party solutions. With ios, you HAVE to wait until apple provides functionality for you. Don't like your keyboard? Tough. Don't like your home screen? Tough. With PocketPC / Windows Mobile, you got to pick and choose features from what today would be called a major OS update by installing 3rd party solutions.

      I only left Windows Mobile because developers left Windows Mobile. The devices and the OSs back then were great though, arguably far more advanced than what we have today. Problem was that the average user doesn't want advanced and that's okay, companies like apple have to sell to the dumbest users, not the smart ones.
      toddbottom3
      • Totally agree about MS leaving out part of the story...

        I totally agree that Microsoft should've made "but it will upgradable" to the next OS. I mean, seriously... who's running their PR? As a fan of Windows Phone, it's very frustrating when Microsoft makes such glaring mistakes.
        newyorkcitymale
      • The average consumer doesn't care

        They are buying the phone based upon the features the phone has TODAY, not what it is upgradeable to. I don't buy a car based upon what I could upgrade it to tomorrow (and its a $50,000 car) and I don't do it with my (sub $399) phone. Techies are so fickle sometimes. Only Tech zealots even make a big deal about this, which account for less than 1% of the consumer public. These blanket statements are just things that you hope make MS pay attention to the silliness of your thinking. Get it in your head, no, they don't care how the zealots feel about their marketing plan, no, they aren't soliciting feedback from you on how they should do it, and lastly, no, they don't care if tech zealots buy their phones. MS is about money and they money falls in from average consumers every day. All they have to do it continue to include every day features in the phones and its a done deal. Consumers like new features in their phones today, not some promise on what is to come. What marketing did you guys take in school??

        Just my .02, agreement not required. lol
        andrej770
    • Not quite

      First, your 3GS might be getting updates, but they aren't full updates. You don't have the same version of iOS 6 that is running on the iPhone 5.

      Second, Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 8 is going to get the update to Windows Phone "insert new unknown name here". Yes, Windows Phone 7.X is "fragmentation", but moving on from Windows 8 and up, it looks like they are making it more like iOS in which everyone get some kind of an update.

      I find it funny that people holding grudges from a time when mobile technology was still improving extremely rapidly are complaining that Windows Mobile was a bitter spot because it got dropped. Apple has more of a forced upgrade cycle than Microsoft across all products. There are plenty of with 10 year old equipment that could have upgraded to Windows 8 from XP. Apple controls the hardware on their Mac line and yet you can't upgrade something that from time frame to the most recent version of OS X. Similarly, you can't update all your iOS products (iPad, iPhone, iPod) with the full updates for the latest versions. Sure, Microsoft could have called Windows Phone 7.8 Windows Phone 8 and done like Apple, but they chose not to do so. Is it dishonest of Apple to not provide the entire update while calling it the same version? Most people don't know the difference anyway. Even now, most people don't know the difference between a phone number 7.8 or 8.
      ikissfutebol
    • @Renting

      Ha ha... Apple's lies. You bought iPhone 3GS. Ok. It is still getting updates. Ok. In that case is Siri available in your phone? Definitely No. And don't tell me it's because of Hardware. iPhone4 is perfectly capable of Siri. Still it doesn't have it. You are only getting partial updates buddy. Like some make up over the phone. More like my Lumia 900 got Wp7.8 update(even though it got more than just a make up). My Lumia 900 cannot replace a WP8 phone for sure.

      MS/Nokia told the truth even though it's bitter. And Apple still tells you sweet even though it's a half lie with a lie of omission.
      spicycheeks
  • Does Microsoft's end-of-life date for Windows Phone 8 mean 9 is near?

    I hope so only because I want the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Windows Phone. People shouldn't fear the end o life date for their current Microsoft Window Phone 8 phones though since a new version will be out before the EOL date. Most likely you will be eligible for an upgrade anyway.
    Loverock-Davidson