The Windows Phone upgrade model is so broken, even Android makes it look bad

While Microsoft once again breaks promises made to Windows Phone users, Apple manages to support iOS devices that are five years old. Even Android users get better upgrade support than Windows Phone users get.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

It seems that Microsoft has, once again, broken promises made to Lumia owners. If you've got a Lumia 1020 or Lumia 920 -- devices released in July 2013 and November 2012 respectively -- then you're not going to be seeing an upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile despite previously being promised the very same upgrade.

But it's not like Windows Phone users aren't used to disappointment and being let down by Microsoft. Those who put their faith in Windows Phone 7 devices never saw an upgrade to Windows Phone 8 either.

Compare this to Apple. The company is preparing to release iOS 9.3 to a whole raft of devices, and some of those devices are getting seriously long in the tooth. For example, take the iPhone 4S, which was released back in October 2011 and has supported five major iOS releases so far (iOS 5.0 to iOS 9.3).

Or what about the iPad 2, which was released in March 2011 and has seen six major iOS releases (iOS 4.2.1 to iOS 9.3).

[Update: Some are claiming that while the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 will both run iOS 9, the update makes them slow. I'd have to agree that these devices are slower than newer hardware running iOS 9 (what universe are we living in if we expect anything different?), but they seem perfectly usable.]

Now that's how you support mobile devices, and properly foster an ecosystem.

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I get that Windows Phone is dead. Any indications to the contrary are down to the fact that Microsoft has strung the corpse up marionette-style and is feverishly puppeting it to make it look like it still has life in it. I also get that most of the user base is made up of fiercely loyal supporters who are in denial about the state of the platform. But what I don't understand is why Microsoft feels that it's OK to continue to disappoint those users, doubly so when promises were made.

Now I know that some of you are going to point out that older iOS devices don't get all the features of their newer counterparts despite getting what appears to be the same iOS upgrade, and you'd be right, but the fact remains that these users are still getting regular software updates, and that those updates are keeping their devices current and secure.

When you buy an iOS device from Apple, you're buying a device that you can rely on to receive major updates and remain current for at least three years, and usually a few years more. Buy a Lumia and no one -- not your Magic 8 Ball, not even Microsoft it seems -- knows for sure whether it'll ever see a major update.

Even for a platform with a 2 percent market share, this is an extremely shoddy way to treat consumers.

It's a sad fact, but Android users have a better chance of getting upgrades than Windows Phone users do. Yes, the Android upgrade model is a nightmarish mess, but customers who buy their devices from Google receive far better support. The Nexus 5, which was released back in October 2013 and first shipped with Android 4.4 Kitkat, can be upgraded to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Yes, the Windows Phone upgrade model is so broken, even Android makes it look bad.

Despite billions of dollars of investment, Microsoft rushed a promising -- and, to be perfectly honest, pretty solid -- platform into an early grave over the course of a few years. While some things just can't be helped -- breaking into a market that was dominated by iOS and Android was always going to be difficult -- Microsoft's approach to the smartphone business more often than not seemed confused and half-hearted. Though the Lumia hardware was first-rate -- and I wouldn't have expected anything less given its Nokia heritage -- the way Microsoft has handled the Windows Phone operating system always appeared haphazard and slipshod.

My advice to anyone thinking of buying a Windows Phone device is simple -- don't. If you're already a Windows Phone users, it's long past time to jump ship.

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