A series of reports published about Microsoft's Windows Phone over the past few days contradict one another, and the lack of clarity coming from Microsoft may wind up hurting the company.
Earlier this week a Portuguese website called Zwame interviewed Microsoft developer evangelist Nuno Silva. During the course of the interview, Silva said that the current installed base of Windows Phone smartphones--most of which are running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango--would be updated to the "next major version" of Microsoft's mobile platform. Zwame assumed that meant Windows Phone 8 (or whatever official name Microsoft decides to bestow upon the future OS).
Looking to verify that report, The Verge reached out to its own sources, and came up with the opposite answer. The Verge's Dieter Bohn reported, "A trusted source close to Microsoft tells us that is absolutely not the case, that instead there will be no upgrade path from Mango to Apollo." The Verge points out that its information aligns with information previously published by ZDNet writer and Microsoft expert Mary Jo Foley.
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When reached for comment, all Microsoft would cop to was, "We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases."
This is about what I got from Microsoft spokesperson Greg Sullivan last month during the Nokia Lumia 900 launch. When I queried him about Apollo, which is the codename for Windows Phone 8, he said, "I can neither confirm nor deny anything about that."
Why is this a big deal? It leaves customers in a lurch, that's why.
Think about it in terms of Android. If you bought the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 in December 2011, you'd expect that when Android 5.0 arrives a year later your device would receive the update, right? That's not how it is going to play out for Microsoft Phone owners, if we believe The Verge's source. If devices such as the brand-new Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II, both of which are for sale via AT&T, can't update to the next version of Windows Phone, Microsoft is going to have a customer service problem on its hands.
Microsoft is set to launch Windows 8 computers and tablets later this year. Many in the mobile world expect that Windows Phone 8 will launch at about the same time. This massive launch will culminate a year's worth of work on Microsoft's part to align its desktop and mobile platforms. It's truly exciting stuff.
If there's one thing Microsoft absolutely should not do, it is to forsake the customers who've actually bought into Windows Phone 7. Do I expect Microsoft will? That's a hard question to answer, though I have doubts that Nokia, which updates almost every device in its arsenal, will be comfortable leaving its Windows Phone 7 adopters out of the Windows Phone 8 party.
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