Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Phone 8 platform will run at least 95% of apps available for Windows Phone 7, but owners of WP7 devices may not be upgraded to WP8 when it becomes available, a Microsoft executive said.
Speaking to financial analysts, Microsoft VP Terry Myerson declined to directly answer a question about whether current Windows Phone 7 owners would be offered an upgrade to Apollo (Microsoft's code name for WP8) but implied that such a move would create significant logistical issues between the company and its hardware and carrier partners.
"Even if we were to say all phones can be updated, then you get into the--you know, our business model implies layers of supply chain to get it out to them, and there are certain incentives to get it out to them that have to be talked through, so there's nothing to announce there," said Myerson.
[ What can you expect from the Windows 8 Phone? Read the latest at Windows Phone 8 Details Leak. ]
Myerson was speaking at a Feb. 29 briefing to financial analysts at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The briefing was closed to the press, but Microsoft last week posted a transcript of Myerson's remarks on its Web site.
Myerson took issue with a questioner's implication that the company would have to provide an upgrade path from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8 in order to match Apple, which allows iPhone users to upgrade from one version of iOS to the next. Myerson said such upgrades generally work so poorly that users are forced to buy the latest-generation iPhone.
"In the case of Apple, they've shipped OS updates to hardware that make it unusable," said Myerson. "It's a great hardware sales tool, as far as I can tell." Myerson also said that "no Android phones get upgraded, none, ever."
Myerson did say that Windows Phone 8, which is expected by many observers to be available later this year, would run virtually all apps that were developed for Windows Phone 7. "Our goal is for all apps to run. That's our goal. Someone [who's] a very creative person is going to find a way to create an app that doesn't do it, and I'm going to make that app work. That's our goal."
Microsoft badly trails rivals Apple and Google Android in smartphone market share. In an effort to catch up, the company plans to put more dollars behind marketing the Windows Phone platform to consumers, Myerson said. "I think that we need to rebuild Windows, or Windows Phone brand with consumers, and drive demand up there," said Myerson.
Microsoft's share of the U.S. mobile OS market stood at just 4.4% as of January, according to the latest numbers from market watcher Comscore. Apple held a 29.5% share, while market leader Google captured 48.6%.
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