When Microsoft revealed that Windows Phone 8 wouldnt be made available as an update for older handsets, it offered an olive branch to owners of those devices in the form of the 7.8 update. Over seven months after it was first promised, 7.8 has finally started rolling out to users.
But alas, its not quite as clear-cut as that. Some Windows Phone 7 handsets - such as those from LG - wont be getting the update at all. Samsung promised that all of their WP7 devices will be updated, and the same is true for Nokia, but as Microsoft and its OEM partners have stated, the distribution of the update will be carrier-dependent. In other words, if you bought your Windows Phone 7 handset from a carrier who decides not to go to the trouble of testing and approving the 7.8 update, youre out of luck.
Sadly, that appears to be the case for customers of T-Mobile in the United States who purchased a Nokia Lumia 710. As WPCentral reports, Nokia itself has revealed, in an email to a customer, that T-Mo US wont be making the 7.8 update available for the 710:
...We understand that you want to confirm if the Windows Phone 7.8 [sic] will be available for Nokia Lumia 710 from T-Mobile. We are sorry to inform you that there are a small number of operators that have chosen not to offer the update to their users. It is important to recognize that this decision was made solely by the operator and these include the T-Mobile network in the United States."
For customers patiently waiting for months for the update to be made available - only to get a middle finger at the final hurdle from the operator that sold them the device - this will certainly be a bitter pill to swallow. Unfortunately, with carriers needing to test and approve updates - and to support them after distribution - the decision to simply deny updates to end users is far easier than the effort required to push them to devices.
Of course, users will still have the option to update their devices through unofficial channels, but operators, retailers and OEMs are unlikely to support your handset if anything goes wrong after that.