No upgrades to Windows Phone 7

No upgrades to Windows Phone 7

Summary: As we predicted, you won't be able to upgrade existing Windows Mobile 6.5 devices to run Windows Phone 7 - because they don't meet the list of criteria.

TOPICS: Windows

As we predicted, you won't be able to upgrade existing Windows Mobile 6.5 devices to run Windows Phone 7 - because they don't meet the list of criteria. Natasha Kwan, General Manager for Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business in the Asia-Pacific region, told the APC blog that "Because we have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series the current phones we have right now will not be upgradable”.

The main problem is that while the HTC HD2 has a capacitive screen, it doesn't have the four points of contact Microsoft is mandating for the new devices to make for a smooth experience; if it's relying on those for gestures and (utter speculation) multi-player games, upgrading older devices wouldn't give a good enough experience. And when we see the official spec later this month, there may be other differences (perhaps more built-in memory or specific graphics acceleration to make XNA and Silverlight look good?)

The HTC doesn't have the three standard buttons on the front either and the five it has don't correspond to the 'back', 'start' and 'search' buttons well enough (there's a different discussion to have about whether getting rid of the physical 'dial' and 'hang up' buttons is actually a good thing, but they're gone and you can't easily make 'home', 'start' and 'back' into 'back, 'start' and 'search' without confusing everyone). If this seems like nit-picking, get used to the fact that Windows Phone 7 Series devices aren't the 'anything goes' Windows Mobile you're used to and will be much closer to an iPhone -style experience where there's less to customise - and less to confuse.

There are unhappy reactions online to the news; cynically speaking given how low Windows Mobile marketshare has fallen (7% in western Europe compared to 4% for Android, 12% for BlackBerry, 18% for iPhone and 59% for Symbian as of November 2009) and the fact that Microsoft must be hoping for far more users for Windows Phone 7, this will make more new users happy than it upsets old fans. Some of that is down to unrealistic expectations - and some of those will have been raised by seeing Microsoft employees running the pre-production version of Windows Phone 7 on their own upgraded devices; that's no way to judge what the experience for actual end users will be. -Mary

Topic: Windows

Simon Bisson

About Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.

Mary Branscombe

About Mary Branscombe

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

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  • No upgrades to Windows Phone 7

    By not allowing upgrades, Microsoft has basically told everyone not to purchase a Windows Phone this year. We know that every Windows Phone on the market is obsolete, and won't be upgradeable in the future.

    This news makes Android and iPhone very appealing.
    Market Strategist
  • No upgrades to Windows Phone 7

    No, Microsoft is saying 'don't buy Windows Mobile/Windows Phone Classic if you want Windows Phone 7'. Windows Phone Classic continues - the question is whether it survives but 7% isn't worth a lot of effort. By not allowing upgrades what they're really saying is 'we noticed that experience matters'.

    iPhone has a good record of letting you upgrade, but you don't have any choice in form factor (or app providers, but we don't know if WinPho will be locked in the same way). And Android is falling into the same trap as WinMo where you can choose between plain Android and get updates or Android with a skin that makes it nicer to use and few updates. You can't update Motorola's Dext to Android 2.1 and I can't find an official announcement saying when/if I can update my Magic to 2.1 - and even if I can, there will be features I won't get because of the hardware (no live backgrounds).
    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe
  • No upgrades to Windows Phone 7

    And of course the whole thing is going to be a red rag for the bull that's XDA Developers...

    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe
  • No upgrades to Windows Phone 7

    Sugar-coat it any way you want, but the fact remains that the original comment is exactly correct. Trying to put a positive spin on this debacle by stealing Coca-Cola's "Classic" renaming is not only not going to work, it is just plain silly, to put it kindly.