What are the real reasons behind no Windows Phone 8 updates?

There was a bit of a dust up earlier this week when a Portuguese employee of Microsoft said in a video interview that all current Windows Phone devices would be able to be updated to Windows Phone 8. That quickly got the Internet speculation engine going but unfortunately, that same person later admitted he had made a mistake. He now claims that he meant to say that all current Windows Phone software would run on Windows Phone 8 when it comes out later this year.

So what's really going on? Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows claims that he finally got some real information on the Windows Phone 8 upgrade story via anonymous sources at Microsoft (officially, Microsoft is still not talking about their Windows Phone 8 plans).

In short, Thurrott says that according to his sources, a Windows Phone 8 upgrade for current Windows Phone 7.x devices, including the just released and very popular Nokia Lumia 900, won't happen for a number of reasons. One is pure economics; there are simply not enough Windows Phone devices out there to justify a very expensive software upgrade.

Another reason is technological; Windows Phone 8 will be based on the Windows 8 kernel and the story claims it will have much higher system requirements than Windows Phone 7.x devices.

Smartphone makers and wireless carriers also both want to sell new phones, not support older devices with a new upgrade, according to the story's sources. Finally, the wireless carriers won't ever support releasing such a software update on their networks.

So when you decide to buy that new Lumia 900, keep in mind that it's more than likely that you may be stuck with Windows Phone 7.x upgrades rather than Windows Phone 8.

Thanks to Stoffel for the tip

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I like Paul, but this seems a silly thing...

No update for 1º generation of WP's? Ok I will eat that...

2º Generation WP's won't have? I won't bite that, that' silly and I don't believe until the day Microsoft knowledge's that officially...

The only thing all these Apollo rumors are doing for me is making me more nervous as to whether my device will get the update or not. Plus, as far as I've seen, rumors tend to be wrong more often than not. And even if I did believe these rumors, there have been reports that Microsoft nay be testing Apollo builds on devices as weak as the Lumia 610, and if it (supposedly) ran well on that, then I see no reason to leave 1st and 2nd gen devices out. 1st gen Windows Phones aren't even two years old yet, so i don't think they should/would stop supporting those devices. Maybe if they do get Apollo they will leave some features out, but MS would be foolish to abandon those devices before they're even two years old or have received at least two major updates.
In any case, I'll wait until Microsoft gives an official statement as to whether current devices will be supported or not.

I have a very strong suspicion that all of these rumors by unnamed "sources" on this subject and the subsequent reporting of them is nothing more than an attempt to get MSFT to go on the record on way or the other, which they won't do until they are ready. And, in the end, the net effect of all of this rumor mongering is to actually hurt the platform the purport to "support". Irony.

I wish everyone would stop coming out with I heard this and that from my super duper inside sources and quit complaining, if they get wp8 then good if not then buy a new phone if you want wp8. Nobody bitches about android with there 5 months between new handsets with different versions of the OS, why bitch about windows phone, just a bunch a of crap coming from everyone and at the end of the day none of them know ****. Be happy with the phone you have.


Was at AT&T store, and yes, they do have the white L900. However, you will have to wait until 22nd to get it.
On other note: While I was at the AT&T store, there were 5 people buying the Cyan L900, and some talking to the salesperson on the Windows Phone.
I also went to Microsoft Store, and there were 7 people at the bar buying and activating the Cyan & Black L900. The atmosphere was awesome!
Good to know that Windows + Nokia L900 are doing well (very well indeed)

Svggarden said,
Good to know that Windows + Nokia L900 are doing well (very well indeed)
I preordered my Lumia and have loved it. Fantastic device, and zippier than my Samsung Focus (which is now functioning in a manner similar to an iPod Touch since the SIM was removed). The Creative Studio app is quite nice too - love the panorama feature ^_^

I'm going to say an educated NO on current WP7 devices getting an OS upgrade. I'm going to say yes that apps targeted at the 7.5 framework will function well on both current and WP8 devices. The new kernel that's going to be a part of Win RT and WP8 just isn't going to run on the old hardware.

At least I'm not going to be locked into a Lumia 900 for the 18 months that follow the WP8 release. That's the real reason they're not being forth coming about it. Why kill current sales if you can just say nothing?

DJ Dark said,
Why don't thy just do the updates like apple and be done with it?
Be nice, but I strongly suspect the carriers chafe at Apple doing that, and certainly don't want any else to follow in Apple's footsteps if at all possible. Plus, honestly, Android doesn't force them to do anything they don't want to, so MS has an uphill battle if they want to act like Apple in this regard

Sam not Spam said,
Be nice, but I strongly suspect the carriers chafe at Apple doing that, and certainly don't want any else to follow in Apple's footsteps if at all possible. Plus, honestly, Android doesn't force them to do anything they don't want to, so MS has an uphill battle if they want to act like Apple in this regard
yes but now look at the fragmentation the carriers cause.

Its interesting because I can see reasons for both cases (getting and not getting it). That said, even if the hardware could support WP8, they might not release it officially for older handsets. I doubt its due to system requirements, though. Allegedly Nokia was the driving force behind Tango and its lower system requirements (800mhz vs 1ghz, 256ram vs 512ram) in order to make more inexpensive WP7 devices. I doubt their desire for lower-cost handsets will change with WP8. Likewise, I'm sure other handset makers would like to have more flexibility in creating devices. Imagine how happy they'd be if they could have 800mhz, 1ghz and 1.4ghz devices, or 800mhz, 1.4ghz and 1ghz dual-cores as options (low-end, normal entry level, premium).

Likewise, the lack of success MS has had with WP7 gives OEMs and carriers more leverage to force changes they want on it. I share Thurott's cynacism here - even if is technically possible to run WP8 on WP7 hardware, I suspect carriers and OEMs would rather it wasn't an option. While Android can be upgraded by a savvy user, I think its safe to say most users aren't savvy enough to do it themselves (or shouldn't try). The general public isn't the same as a power-user!

About Android: given it has true multitasking, it needs RAM more than WP7 devices do (task switching, tombstoning, dehydrating, etc). If Android didn't have that, it wouldn't need as much (but, honestly, that is one of the appealing system features it has, so I'd rather have it than not).

On fragmentation: since, allegedly, WP7 apps will run on WP8 devices, one could simply write WP7 and still address the entire market if the app doesn't need WP8 features. Or, the app could recognize which version of the OS its running on and enable features as appropriate. The marketplace should (or rather, had better) recognize what you have, and only present what you can run OR let you know that can't run an app fully. In a way, its similar to Windows XP and Windows 7 - write for the LCD and go from there. Android's fragmentation is a combination of OS fragmentation and extreme hardware diversity. WP at least has that baseline you can shoot for/rely on, relatively speaking.

Thurrot was wrong on Mango. Said it would be delayed until 2012 and he will be proven wrong on this.

Paul's technical excuse is complete BS. WP7.5 devices can handle W8.

Microsoft had full Windows 7 running on devices weaker than current WP7 devices back in 2010 or earlier. Windows 8 has better memory management than Windows 7: http://www.maximumpc.com/artic...7_running_arm_two_years_ago

Microsoft demoed Windows 8 last summer on a Single core 1.2Ghz Qualcomm CPU, so WP7.5 could easily support a scaled down Windows 8.:
http://www.windows8release.com...s-which-supports-windows-8/

I think MS is waiting for the OEMs to come up with compelling hardware. If they are going to have generic anemic hardware who will really care about the OS? There has to be some device that will make people not care about what they have to do to get this new phone. Like the new iPhone and the Galaxy phones now from Samsung. If they come out with a bland black box it will not matter how much better the OS has become.

DUH!


Smartphone makers and wireless carriers also both want to sell new phones, not support older devices with a new upgrade, according to the story's sources. Finally, the wireless carriers won't ever support releasing such a software update on their networks.

Anyone with more than a couple of functioning brain cells could have worked out that there's ZERO chance the phone carriers would allow existing models to upgrade. That would prevent them from selling you a new phone.

The nearly choked on their pocketbooks when MS wanted to control the updates for WP7, and why do you think many Android phones never get official updates?

Ok, let's start with no longer referencing Paul Thurrott...

In a recent exchange one of our researchers had with Mr. Thurrott over technical information in one of his articles, he admitted that his source on a particular subject about the architecture of Windows NT was from Intel.

He then went on to incriminate his credibility by stating that he 'still' believed the Intel sources were more accurate than Dave Cutler of Microsoft on how the NT kernel was designed.

(Which was a 'Holy crazy man' moment that was posted on our intranet, that was both sadly stupid and a roll on the floor laughing moment, especially with the added details to the correspondence that we are still debating on whether to post publicly by one of our technical bloggers.)

So if you want to 'trust' his understanding of technology and his 'sources', at least know what you are dealing with.


The conversation with him and the researcher was over a simplistic fact about the HAL of NT and how it inter-operates with the NT kernel. He 'insisted' that NT was 'hard' to port to other architectures because of the NT HAL and Microsoft would never be able to make NT available on anything but a limited number of architectures. Again using his 'Intel' source as his basis of reasoning, even though the HAL of NT is the exact reason it is 'easy' to port to other architectures.

Even more egregious he followed up defending his viewpoint and his 'Intel' source that NT on ARM would require highly customized rewrites of NT for each variation of ARM processor. (Which is FLIPPING insane.)

So, as to why or how WP8 will or will not allow what, he is he last person I would trust to have 'good' sources, because even when he does, he doesn't always pick the 'best' source, nor has the understanding to comprehend technically what the source is telling him.

Anyone that trust's an Intel source about how NT over Dave Cutler needs to be ignored or laughed out of the industry.


Our Research Group immediately added a policy to no longer provide Mr. Thrurrot with any future 'inside' information or 'technical' explanations, which he has relied on in the past since he 'admittedly' has little 'technical' understanding.

PS In regard to Mr. Thurrot's claims about WP8, the economic reason is laughable, as the update is not much more than a 'recompile' for current WP7 devices, again something he does not understand.

The only 'real' reason for WP8 to NOT be supported on WP7 devices would be a new and specific hardware feature that WP7 devices do not have. (Mango for example added a new Gyro requirement, but it was emulated in software so that phones without it could still reference it as a 'real' device and use the internal code so Apps could do motion API (aka movement/tilt) without the inherent 'jitter'. (Microsoft has R&D videos on how 'jitter' is reduced that came from this emulation that is in Mango.)

So if WP8 is not available for WP7 device it will be a very 'specific' and 'needed' device level feature that cannot be software emulated.


WP7 devices are being used by Microsoft in testing Windows 8 RT (NT kernel on ARM), and they are running the full version of NT with the desktop and Office on a 1ghz first generation WP7. So it isn't about 'performance' or some technical issue in OS Core functionality changes. If they can run a full Desktop OS on a WP7 device, and WP8 is not made available for WP7 devices, it means there will be a specific new hardware feature that will be 'necessary' and used in WP8.


PS If anyone at Neowin talks to Paul, tell him we are still laughing about his correspondence, and may yet publish it online for the world share in on the laugh.

Meanwhile, a certain competitor is supporting three year old phones with the latest updates and is laughing all the way to the bank. I wonder how Microsoft's business model with the Windows Phone platform is taking lack of confidence in their products due to lacking updates into account? Why would one buy a phone if it's not getting major updates? I guess they're catering to the crowd of users being impressed by security fixes.

Gee, I thought Windows-8 was just Phone-8 tricked out to work on tablets and other touch-screen devices with an ARM processor. Microsoft is really confusing consumers--not a good strategy by any company.

Microsoft will support these devices, and the reason is simple: Platform market share. They cannot drop support for these phones, because doing so would mean they're immediately resetting their app market back to zero. That would make no sense from a business prospective. The problem so far with Windows Phone has been the small size of users to download applications, this has made it not worth the cost of major players from developing for the platform. Just as soon as they release a phone that gets positive reviews and reception from users, they make it so they cannot download and use new applications for WP8? Don't think so.

bitslasher said,
Microsoft will support these devices, and the reason is simple: Platform market share. They cannot drop support for these phones, because doing so would mean they're immediately resetting their app market back to zero. That would make no sense from a business prospective. The problem so far with Windows Phone has been the small size of users to download applications, this has made it not worth the cost of major players from developing for the platform. Just as soon as they release a phone that gets positive reviews and reception from users, they make it so they cannot download and use new applications for WP8? Don't think so.

Agreed. Though with the use of their frameworks, the underlying OS doesn't matter. I do think we'll see an update though.

They'd be shooting themselves in the foot. Users like me, who won't touch Android due to fragmentation and delayed updates would stay clear. Are they going to use the same philosophy with tablets?

I have my eye on on a Windows Phone, really like the Lumia 900. Been an iPhone user since 07 and to be honest I'm tired of iPhones, but unless they provide a upgrade path that won't leave my OS completely out of date in a year forget it.

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