There’s a good deal of frustration swirling over Microsoft’s ongoing refusal to reveal when Windows Phone 8 will officially launch. For those with no strong allegiance to any particular mobile platform, it makes it difficult to seriously consider a Windows Phone 8 handset right now, especially with the new iPhone due in the next fortnight, and capable Android devices like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III readily available to buy.
But for existing Windows Phone owners, there is a much greater source of frustration. Microsoft has already confirmed that any existing Windows Phone, including those currently on sale, will not be eligible for upgrade to Windows Phone 8. But the company did offer an olive branch to those users whose devices won’t be upgradable, promising that it would not abandon those handsets, and would provide a ‘Windows Phone 7.8’ update to them instead. However, its only specific commitment for the 7.8 update so far has been that it will bring the new Windows Phone 8-style Start Screen to those older handsets.
In the official Windows Phone User Voice discussion, there have been thousands of comments and votes from users requesting features that they believe the Windows Phone 7.8 update should bring to their handsets. Suggestions range from integrated Skype support to Internet Explorer 10, Office 2013 and even little things like the ability to capture screenshots.
A member of the Windows Phone team has now posted on that site, to reassure users that their voices are being heard:
As you know, Windows Phone 8 is a generational shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware.
BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and would like to know SPECIFICALLY what features you would like to see on 7.8 and vote INDIVIDUALLY for the one that you want most (vs. one large grab bag of features).”
This is, finally, an exciting step in the right direction, a clear indication of both Microsoft’s commitment to the 7.8 update, and that it values the opinions of its users. But the fact that Microsoft is only now canvassing opinions on what should go into the update unfortunately implies that work on Windows Phone 7.8 is far from complete.
It could be some time yet before the update is ready to be delivered to handsets. The frustration, it seems, may be far from over.
Which one feature would YOU value most in Windows Phone 7.8? Share your thoughts with us below... but don't forget to share them with Microsoft too!