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

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.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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.

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