Don't be blue: About that Windows Phone 8's July 2014 end-of-life date

Don't be blue: About that Windows Phone 8's July 2014 end-of-life date

Summary: Microsoft has said Windows Phone 8 support ends in July 2014. There's a Blue lining to that cloud.


After Microsoft either wasn't able and/or willing to push its Windows Phone 8 operating system to existing Windows Phone users last year, there are understandably a lot of abandonment fears in the WinPhone community.

That's why the recent revelation (via Microsoft's own lifecycle support page) that Windows Phone is going to have an 18-month support window, going forward, has tongues wagging among more than a few Microsoft fans -- and plenty of Microsoft's critics.

(There was no such lifecycle support page for Windows Phone prior to the just-added Windows Phone 7.8.) 

What's the Windows Phone team saying about this latest revelation? The team tweeted on March 18: "As we've said before, one benefit of moving to the Windows core is that Windows Phone 8 is upgradeable."


(Microsoft officials made this point yet again during the recent Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.)

I asked the team if it had further comment about the Windows Phone 8 lifecycle cut-off date, and was told there'd be no further comment.

Back in June 2012, Windows Phone officials said the non-upgradeability of existing Windows Phone hardware wouldn't be a repeat situation with Windows Phone 8. Still, I'd feel better if we knew for sure that every existing Windows Phone 8 handset will get Windows Phone Blue, the next major successor to the Windows Phone 8 operating system. And that every Windows Phone carrier would deliver the Blue update before July of 2014. But the tweet above doesn't guarantee either of these things.

However, like my Windows Weekly cohost Paul Thurrott, I am more optimistic than not that the July 2014 support cut-off date isn't the doomsday scenario many are claiming it is. As I've blogged before, Microsoft is believed to be on track to release three minor Windows Phone updates, starting with the already-released "Portico," before it delivers Windows Phone Blue, which is a major update.

While some believe Blue will be out in time for this holiday season, I'm not 100 percent sure this will be the case. But it definitely will be out before July 2014, I am convinced.

And if it's not, Microsoft can always extend the lifecycle dates for Windows Phone 8. It wouldn't be the first time, as one of my contacts reminded me.

Topics: Windows Phone, Microsoft


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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  • It *can* be upgraded but *will it* happen?

    The funny thing is it says "upgradeable" but not "for free". :D
    Am I evil thinking about that?
    • You are simply trying to find something fishy...

      People do that with Microsoft all the time... everything is invalid if it comes from them, but it must be true if that unknown guy on a tech website say something different.
      Simon Tupper
      • I'm OK with MS charging for upgrades

        MS does, at this point, have some incentive not to gouge customers who can easily go elsewhere, and by not leaving it up to carriers or manufacturers to push upgrades out, MS helps to insure that upgrades actually happen.

        I figure about $30 for a new version of the OS (just about what Apple charges) is fair. That should make MS a tidy profit.

        And yes, I think Google should sell Android upgrades as well.
        John L. Ries
        • That said

          A support cutoff date of July 8, 2014 (less than 17 months away) does not bode well for the supposed commercial success of Windows 8. MS usually likes to take a lot more time than that to get a new Windows out the door.
          John L. Ries
          • Did you read the article?

            What does this have to do with Windows 8?
          • Yes, I did

            Windows Phone 8 was specifically mentioned.
            John L. Ries
      • Upgradable? maybe.

        But since the handset vendors have to upgrade the drivers...

        Not really.

        MS past history is against them for this.
      • Fishy indeed...

        like the 129 go Surface tablet, a more scarce specimen that a Zune (never saw one!). MS store is not taking orders, and on launch day they distributed around 1/2 units to local Bestbuy's across the country; I'm guessing but we can say around 2000 stores across NA, what's makes less than 5 thousands surface Pro 128 Go distributed (and we know the 128 is the real deal, 64 Go is barely enough to contain the massive OS it runs). Now, I think estimates are 1 million tablets manufactured (RT + Pro); if we do the math (4000 units at Bestbuy for launch day + 0 units from MS store + an undisclosed number sold direct at launch day) we can assume that the Flagship model of the line is distributed in very, very small numbers, in fact, the Pro 128 Go IS NOT BEING SOLD.

        And that for me is kind of fishy; unless my maths are way off!
    • Free?

      Mihi Nomen Est
    • Yes people were at one point called

      every version of Windows vaporware before they were released and yet every version was released. WP8 will be upgradable to WP9. After MS releases WP9 it will take a few weeks to a few months for carriers to finish testing it and making any final updates to firmware (for specific hardware and radios) that is needed to support the OS changes. Then the updates will be rolled out for a specific phone and network.

      Same thing happens for Android and iOS. But, I think MS is going to do a better job supporting older phones with upgrades. Just don't expect a 3 year old phone to be upgraded with most people on 1 or 2 year contracts. Not enough people would actually do the upgrade.
      • NOT every version was released.

        Remember longhorn? scaled back and totally dropped most features that would have made it desirable. Never released.

        Remember Cairo? Dropped. Never released.

        And there are others.
    • It *can* be upgraded but *will it* happen?

      This is a reasonable question... will this be a free upgrade? Has Microsoft announced how the upgrades will work? I honestly ask... I am a lumia 900 user, so I know that I will need a new phone anyway. For those who are on the Windows 8 platform can upgrade, but will it be free?
  • windows 8 and WP8 share the same core so it's fully upgradeable

    The only thing that isn't upgradeable is your hardware. And a 3 years contract can be a pain in the... when you phone didn't get any update in a year or two.
    Simon Tupper
    • I haven't heard of a 3 year contract

      What carrier is offering / requiring a 3 year contract for a WP8 phone?
      • Not sure about Windows or Android phones

        But I thought I read somewhere that you can get a 3 year contract with Blackberry phones, though not sure what carrier has that.
        William Farrel
      • Three year contracts exist in Canada

        They were the standard contract that included a subsidized phone the last time I looked (although that was several years ago).
        • Unfortunate it's still true.

          Hopefully things will change soon.

          Arm A. Geddon
        • 3 year contract

          Still is. Every one of my phone here in Canada is on three year contract an the latest I got was last Summer. It hasn't changed.
  • What else can Microsoft do to bury this platform?

    The last thing they need to do is causing uncertainty regarding the longevity of people's phones. Didn't they learn this from their previous releases? Microsoft should be taking the opposite approach and ensuring existing phones will be supported...even if it costs them more to do so. The name of the game is to drive adoption...uncertainty about the platform doesn't help.
    • Not much uncertainty really

      You've gotta notice the mobile crowds are a fickle bunch that always look for the latest cool gadgets. They are not inerested in anything more than 2 years old. I actually think it's good news as it shows WP team is on a pretty fast pace of shipping their OS.