Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.8 update to roll out to existing users by early 2013

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.8 update to roll out to existing users by early 2013

Summary: Existing Windows Phone users should begin seeing rollouts across 'as many devices as possible' of the new Windows Phone 7.8 operating system by early 2013.

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Windows Phone 7.8 -- the update for Windows Phone 7.x that adds tile multisizing support -- is going to roll out to "as many devices as possible" by early 2013.

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That's the latest timing I had heard from some of my contacts, and is now officially acknowledged by the Softies, as noted in a November 28 Windows Phone blog post.

The post, authored by Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson, noted that Windows Phone 7.8 is starting to roll out now on new, lower-priced phones in many countries around the world.

But it's the existing Windows Phone users who've been most eagerly awaiting news of the update since Microsoft first mentioned plans to offer 7.8 as an olive branch for those who would not be getting the Windows Phone 8 operating system on their phones. The loyal early adopters are going to have to wait a bit longer.

From Myerson's post:

"We know you’re eager to get the Windows Phone 7.8 update, and we want you to know that we’re working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013. As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we’re also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded services."

I've heard previously that it will be up to handset makers and carriers as to which phone models get the 7.8 update. I have not heard how these decisions will be made, however.

The Windows Phone OS 7.8 update is designed to allow users to choose among three sizes of tiles (small, medium and large) on their home screens. As far as I have heard, there are no other new features coming in the 7.8 update. If Microsoft has changed its stance on this and added other new features, officials have not stated that fact publicly. I stand corrected. There are a few other minor updates that are part of the 7.8 release, including double the number of available theme and accent colors; option to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day on the lock screen; and a PIN/password challenge to prevent accidental device wipes. (Thanks @Sergio_TheOne for pointing this out.)

In other Windows Phone news, Microsoft yesterday confirmed that it will be delivering a fix for the reported Windows Phone 8 random rebooting issue in December 2012. Microsoft is going to deliver the fix as an over-the-air update. I have asked whether there will be additional updates bundled with this and whether the fix will come directly to users from Microsoft or via carriers. So far, no word back on either question.

 

Topics: Smartphones, Microsoft, Windows

About

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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27 comments
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  • I think you missed these updates in addition to start screen

    "Windows Phone 7.8 also includes some other cool stuff. It doubles the number of theme and accent colors—to 20—so you can make your phone even more personal. There are also new lock screen features: the option to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day plus the ‘A1B2C3’ PIN/password challenge to prevent accidental device wipes on phones connected to Exchange accounts."

    I captured it from Terry's Blog Post.
    Ram U
    • +1

      It is a good idea for such product. Several years ago nobody wants to by the WP7. With the latest WP8 a previous one may get some sort of popularity. The WP7 gadgets costs less and may get the wide market share. Like the Nokia Lumia 510 http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_lumia_510_goes_official_brings_wp75_and_4inch_screen-news-4983.php
      Viktor Dmytrenko
  • Unfortunately, I think the carriers will work hard to screw this up...

    Outside of the Lumia 900, I don't see the carriers working to hard to push this out in a timely manner.
    kjb434
    • You could always

      Use cab sender. I never bother to wait for the carriers.
      sjaak327
  • Not holding my breath. WP8 sdk turned end of summer into Oct 26th

    Early 2013 could be Dec 30th. But seriously if I were an MS blogger I would ask by what criteria are the "as many as possible" determined. As far as I can tell there are little to no changes between 7.0 and 7.5 wp's hw wise and little to no hw dependencies in the new 7.8 features. So I'm betting that there's no technical reason 7.8 couldn't run on all pre WP8 devices. What else would it be besides lack of effort? I'm curious to know. And MS should make this available to all WP7.x devices outside of the carrier equasion because a lot of WP7.x owners will move to WP8 but want to keep their WP7.x devices as wifi only media and game players for their kids and they should be able to get 7.8 for that reason.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Too little... too late

    By that time, anybody who really cares about the feature set will have already bought a Windows Phone 8 device! You think this is part of Microsoft's strategy?

    btw, Johnny Vegas hit the nail square on the head. I will likely purchase a WP8 device in the next 30-60 days, but I'll definitely keep my WP7 devices as a Zune Media Player!
    Lawrence Garvin
    • Is it enough to keep WP7 phones relevant?

      WP7 was released in Oct 2010, meaning that it is now over 2 years old. Given that a very large proportion of all types of phone users are on 2 years contracts, there is good reason to believe that by the time this update arrives next year, the largest proportion of WP7 users will have contracts that have ended or which are close to ending. So, I suspect that the question is whether or not this WP7 update will keep WP7 relevant or whether users will simply go and get WP8 phones? If most go and WP8 phones, then it really is too little, too late.
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
      • WP7 must be kept relevant

        I am residing in India and there are not many carrier contracts here. Heck, Lumia 920 and 820 are yet to be introduced here.

        As a Lumia 900 owner, I definitely expect some update for my phones. Nokia is doing just the same - with the promise of bluetooth media transfer, tile resize, and a few more.
        http://conversations.nokia.com/2012/09/11/great-times-ahead-for-all-nokia-lumia-smartphones/

        This might be a differentiator for smart phones in India.
        spicycheeks
    • My thoughts exactly

      My contract is up in March 2013, and I was just planning on upgrading at that point.

      This is to keep the people with more time left on thier phones happy.
      William Farrel
  • Why bother?

    I tried WP 7 (WP 7.6 on a Nokia Lumia 900), and found it lacking. The purple hue was a big issue, as I only run the screen @ 60% brightness. This was after the first one had a structurally deficient screen. I find the claims of Nokia making the phone literally bulletproof, a load of B.S. I include the false claim you can drive nails with it also a load of B.S. when it falls over, and the screen breaks, I can't believe you could hammer nails with it. But there are fools that will buy the B.S., after all, there are fools that voted for a Socialist Arab, to be the President.
    Troll Hunter J
    • Re: Why bother?

      "I find the claims of Nokia making the phone literally bulletproof, a load of B.S. I include the false claim you can drive nails with it also a load of B.S. when it falls over, and the screen breaks, I can't believe you could hammer nails with it. "

      This link have videos that won't agree with your post,

      http://www.webpronews.com/you-must-go-to-great-lengths-to-destroy-a-nokia-lumia-920-2012-11
      dvm
    • I find your claims

      of owning a Nokia Windows phone BS.

      Last time you said it was the HTC Windows phone that had a hue in the screen. And THAT one fell over and the screen broke.

      Get your stories straight.
      William Farrel
    • Well, there is no WP 7.6

      It is WP 7.5. Mango, Mango Refresh and Tango share the same version number.
      Ram U
  • 7.8 might alright ... just saying

    I currently own a Lumia 920, and while 7.8 cannot in anyway supplant the WP8 experience, it does give you some great selling features. To me, the new start screen and (I hope) the email "preview" you'd see on a double/wide mail tile is an attractive sight. Honestly, losing that would kill like a quarter of the WP8 experience for me, so gaining that in 7.8 is good. The new accent colours (I love steel and taupe) too add some genuine value. It also seems as if mobile Office 2013 and Xbox Music-Videos will supplant Zune and Office.

    If you're on Nokia, you'll get BT file transfer, updated navigation (Drive, Maps, Transit, City Lens), camera lens-app updates, etc. There isn't a whole lot on WP8 (software wise) that I can use right now besides BT transfer, the new mail tiles and Skype in the background.

    A lot of what is new on WP8 has to do with the hardware, e.g. high-res screens, NFC, etc, and while all that enhances the WP experience, it's kind of irrelevant to 7.8 since the only thing current phones can get is a software update! Besides the integrated VoIP functionality, there's quite a bit of WP8 coming to WP7.x in these new updates.
    saqrkh
  • probably more features will be there...

    along with the small tile size addition. Otherwise, there is no need for this much time to test and get it approved. "As many devices as possible" !!! Hmmm So there will be some devices left out of this?

    we’re working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013.
    >> "As many devices as possible" !!! Hmmm So there will be some devices left out of this? So OEMs and Carriers will have a say on which models will get the update!!!

    As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we’re also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure >> a smooth transition for our widely expanded services
    sreesiv
    • high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded

      services... so probably there will be more features in line with WP8 that take advantage of the new services/probably backend ones which will bring some WP8 features to WP7.8.
      sreesiv
    • Low end phones will be left out

      I dont know checking this link,

      http://conversations.nokia.com/2012/09/11/great-times-ahead-for-all-nokia-lumia-smartphones/

      I can say that Lumia 510 is not in the list. They may miss the lowest models?
      spicycheeks
      • Lumia 510

        I believe the Lumia 510 will ship with 7.8 preinstalled.
        Saxwulf
  • No one mentiones user experinece.

    When WP7 came out the users who actually owned it overwhelmingly voiced thier fondness for the UI and overall UX.

    When Mango came out users of the upgraded devices were even more happy, this is not in question. Most people who express themselves here in a negative fashion at MS and WP is over the fact that the device doesn't have the market share of Android or iPhone. Sometimes they mention the lack of apps, which is not accurate, its more like there are fewer apps that do the same things.

    3G speeds are on par with the competition.

    Ease and speed of connecting to WiFi networks is fantastic.

    The market place works very well, is easy and safe.

    The major apps that most people want are very nicely designed, and WP adds that unique Metro style to make navigating with in well written apps fast and pleasant.

    Voice search works awesome, I have never had a problem.

    Pairs up with my blue tooth perfectly.

    Skype with video works beautifully.

    Adding multiple languages to the virtual KB is easy (my phone has a vertical physical KB and the virtual when retracted, I like having other languages available at a single touch).

    Mail client works flawlessly with Hotmail, Gmail, and other POP and IMAP servers (even better than my desktop, never any errors with Gmail....)

    Since I use Hotmail/live, my contacts, email and calendar is sync'd across all of my desktops, laptops and my phone, no effort, no configuration, no planning - just automagically.

    Lost in all of the venom being spewed by MS bashers is the fact that those that did buy a WP7 device, and especially those that upgraded to Mango, are overwhelmingly satisfied.

    Compared to the one SII and two SIIIs I bought for my family, the WP7 (with mango of course) is hands down, by far, the easiest phone to use. Its amazingly stable and mine runs butter smooth on a 1st gen 1Ghz single core.

    If you want to rip the older WP7 devices for having inferior cameras, I cannot argue to the contrary. But as for overall UX, they are great devices.

    As for the 7.8 upgrade, oh yeah, I'm looking forward to it. May just buy enough time for me to hold on and see if other WP8 options come out. As a TMobile customer I an not happy that the 920 isn't an option. HTC 8x looks good, but the low light capabilities of the 920 is a bit of a deal breaker for me, I want that quality.
    Raid60
  • I'm Done!

    First off... I have a Windows 7 phone and an iphone 4 series. I will say that I have always thought the live tiles made perfect sense on a smartphone. Updates at a glance make it useful without having to launch an app to see something like temps and emails, calendar notifications. I dont mind the iphone style of notifications, but they're too much when listed in a screen. I also must admit the photo album tile is currently a comfort to me after losing one of the most important lives in my life recently, I've liked being able to glance and see a random photo go by on my tile.

    But this delay with Microsfot shows their lack of caring about a phone platform that is only 2 years old. Dead a long time ago by their own admission, but you still show an interest. By announcing it's imminent death a looong time ago, MS scared off developers, and killed the phone without even giving it a chance to live up to it's potential almost out of the gate. The phone is fast and intuitive, light years beyond iphone and android in intuitiveness. We were told all WP7 phones were built to go through an entire life cycle with all updates able to run on any of the WP7 phones from the lowest to the high end. That was the whole idea behind the minimum specs required by MS to have the WP7 software. So, now in the end the manufacturers get to call the final shot(s). Why? I hear mine won't get it anyway - thanks LG as usual. I think MS strung the WP7 people along and used us to continue to promote the phone until they knew if WP8 would be a success (appears so), and now that it is, decided to slack off. My Optimus 7 is less than a year old, no contract, but I still expect what was "promised". I can't trust them anymore, and am leaning towards the iphone now in my attempt to choose which one to keep. At least I know where I stand with that phone - as much as I am hate to admit it.

    I'm not waiting any longer for an update that may or may not come. I dont want to go into a contract, so a WP8 won't be in the future for a long time, if ever. Yes the WP8 phone is awesome, but I'm wondering now what negative impact this 7.8 news may have on people considering a WP8 once they hear the familiar broken promise machine is at it again. The word of mouth may tell the end story.
    mlbslugger